North has evolved quite a bit since launch and I guess someone out there might find it useful to get a preview of what’s new.
Note apps come in all shapes and sizes, serving different needs while having their fair share of idiosyncrasies. North Notes is just one interpretation of the universal problem of capturing your thoughts somewhere safe and easy to access. North has a few overarching themes that guide most of its feature choices and design language. Most notably, it attempts to be restrained in its choice of visual styling, often blending into the OS of your device. It also puts data and data functionality at the centre of all product decisions.
North treats the note as its most singular element and everything else built into North is designed to serve the empowerment of the note. If notes most often mirror thoughts, it implies that like thoughts, the vast majority of notes do not sit in a vacuum but are instead snapshots in a hierarchy of information, streams of reasoning and trees of greater concepts. As such, each note in North is designed to form a node, think a branching point, in a potential forest of concepts that sit as trees, which are formed by thousands of branches.
To achieve this level of universality, North is unapologetically bare in its features and design. This makes it extremely robust in handling the demands of a secondary data store for your thoughts. Thoughts are cheap, and they flow at an intense pace. North is designed to live in a user story that spans over 100,000 notes. Perhaps even a million.
North builds relationships between notes in two powerful ways. Let’s start with tagging.
Tagging in North is probably the most efficient system to organize information by labels ever implemented in a mobile app, or any app for that matter. You have a search bar, you type into it, if you have already added a tag with your intended keyword, you see it, tap, and it’s added. If you haven’t added a similar tag already, you still see the tag that you just searched for, tap, and it’s added. More importantly, tagging in North is embraced in every function of the app. Want to tag multiple notes at once? – Try a batch action. Want to drag and drop… and tag? – There’s a gesture for that too.
Tags form the grouping and collecting functions of your notes. Your main screen presents you with your most active tags as launch-off points to sublists of your content. You could take a step further and combine multiple tags to narrow your lists down even more. North doesn’t restrict the number of filters that you could add to comb your data.
The second important way that North builds relationships between your notes is Spatial Ordering. Each note cell in North is a movable block that could sit at any level of a tree of notes. Simply drag a note and drop it at a level of your choice. The primary gesture to get things going is to drag a note cell into another note cell. This is the formation of a parent to child relationship.
Many concepts and thoughts live in a complex web of connection some of which are simple parent-child relationships and others more similar to a peer-to-peer network. North supports both these types of branching and nesting. And it likes to do it visually, through interactive gestures that simulate the formation of these relationships more intuitively. You, like most other people, probably want to see things form connections. North lets you see and, through the magic of haptics, feel this event like never before.
Note apps don’t have to do much more than facilitating a seamless input and output of integrated information – think notes with relationships – between you and your device. But it helps to have a few extensions to help improve the depth of your note’s content – think media and files, some rich-text – and in some limited unobtrusive way, make your note a little more time-and-space-aware – think reminders, location coordinates and geofences.
North extends the humble tag from the realms of being a simple label to a new domain of smart functionality: Some tags in North carry functionality. Or in other words, you could add functions to your note by simply tagging it.
North supports a few families of “smart” tags at present. Add “Wednesday” from your tag bar to have your note show up at the top of your list, and ping you midday every Wednesday. Stack a time and date tag to this note to fine-tune at which time every Wednesday you would prefer to be notified. Add a geofence tag to have another notification whenever you pass a location of interest to a note. Notes like thoughts may have links to a particular point in time and place in, well, I guess earth.
North also supports universal attachments. It could preview almost any common file type and carry every other format under the sun. This freedom lets you store data within notes that you would normally have saved elsewhere in an obscure folder path. North bridges this note-to-file disconnect with the added bonus of now letting you link your files as you would a note.
So that’s a slice of some of the more important developments in North lately. We are constantly using and loving the app in our day-to-day and hope you would too. It’s important for us to hear your thoughts and feedback with your experience with North so far and would encourage you to please reach out to us over at https://northnotes.app/support or on our Twitter page at https://twitter.com/northnotes.
Insh at North.