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What Android Developers can learn from ColorNote, a beautiful Mobile App

August 16, 2011

By Matt Mombrea

I’m an Android user. I have a love / hate relationship with the platform. On one hand, I love the ability to have full control over every aspect of my phone and customize it to suite my preferences (see root access). On the other hand, there is serious disparity between the quality of apps written for the platform, and similar disparity between handsets and OS versions. This commonly leads to an unstable platform with freezes, reboots, and battery drains. Not to mention the whole mess of navigating the Android Market.

It’s rare that I come across an app that I am completely stunned by, outside of the Google suite of apps.

My infatuation with ColorNote has grown out of a simple need that could not be adequately satisfied by other apps. I want to be able to take notes. I want an app that considers notes the way I do. I want the app to know what I’m going to do with the note through its lifecycle.

At long last, ColorNote is that app.

The developer of this program, Notes, has taken incredible care to make sure every action you take is tailored to make the experience helpful and efficient.

Home Screen

Launch ColorNote and you’re greeted with minimalist perfection.

  • Dashboard Button
  • New Note Button
  • Search Button
  • Sort Option
  • Your Notes, color coded

Sounds like a lot, but it’s laid out masterfully. There are no gimmicky elements, no flashy graphics, just subtle colors and considerate element sizing. Too many Android apps have terrible, inconsiderate User Interfaces.

Notice the care taken when displaying your notes. Items which are To-Do lists are shown by having a checkmark. To-Do lists that are complete are grayed and striked out.

Note Types and Features

  • Simple. Just two types: Checklist and Text note.
  • Easily set the note color
  • Add a calendar reminder to a note
  • Archive Notes
  • Send Notes
  • Add sticky note widget to home screens

This short list of features enables you to do everything you need regarding your note. It is all easily accessible.

Optimized Workflow

This is where the developer really helps out the user. They took the time to consider your next logical action with each step of the note process. Start a new checklist, you are immediately greeted with a pop over awaiting your first item. This pop over has a handy “Next”  button that will save your entry and start a fresh one in just a press.

Need to move items around, just hold and drag to the new location. Finished with the note for now? There is no save button, just back out of the note edit screen and you’re taken care of. You can now get busy checking off your to-do items by clicking each once.

If your note is time sensitive, or if you need to add to it frequently, set a reminder on it. The options are brief and perfect.

  • Remind me everyday
  • Remind me today
  • Remind me in 15 Minutes
  • Remind me in 30 Minutes
  • Pin to status bar

Pinning to status bar will place the note in your phone’s status bar and give you one click access to it from anywhere on your phone.

What Developers Can Learn

  • Know your audience
  • Know your problem
  • Keep it simple
  • Anticipate your users
  • Avoid adding useless features for the sake of having more features

It would have been easy for the developer to add GPS integration into your notes just to say they have it, but the result of added complexity is often instability. This app does what it promises and nothing else. It doesn’t crash, it doesn’t hog memory, it doesn’t try to steal your data. When in doubt, stick to the platform standards and best practices.

ColorNote is an example for all Android developers to follow. If we all took so much care in crafting our software, the market would be a much better place, and the Android platform would have yet another advantage over the iPhone. With over 10 million downloads, this apps quality has not gone unnoticed.


Matt Mombrea

Matt Mombrea

Matt is a longtime entrepreneur and software engineer. He also sits on the board of Computer Science at SUNY Fredonia. Born and raised in Buffalo, Matt is passionate about building and maintaining great businesses in Buffalo. Apart from leading Cypress North, Matt architects our company’s datacenter, engineers dozens of custom applications, and directs the rest of the development team.

See Matt's Most Recent Posts

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ScubaSkier October 26, 2011Reply

I agree with your assessment of ColoNote. However, it would be nice if it could sync with my Mac. I don’t see on any site that they offer a Mac version, as does EverNote, which is more cumbersome.

Victor Guilloty September 10, 2016Reply

I also agree with your evaluation. One nice improvement will be to add autonumber functionality to the checklist mode.

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