Review: Elements Text Editor for iOS

Elements is a writing app that syncs its text files with your Dropbox (link is to my referral account, if you don’t like me go to account giving you full access on your computer. When it came out I downloaded it immediately I am a sucker for any new app that may make my life easier and this sounded like it might. The thing is I already had Simplenote and it was syncing via Dropbox and Simplenote Sync already, so Elements would have to be better.

It isn’t better, it isn’t even close.

The Flaw(s)

I hate to give a bad review of anything because I know a lot of time and effort went into making this app, but it really isn’t worth the money. The UI is ugly, and icon is ugly – even on the larger screened iPad it still is ugly. Oh and did I mention that you can only sync it with the ‘Elements’ folder that it creates in your Dropbox account? Well you can only sync it with that folder, what a waste.

Elements would be useful for a lot of people if it was just a text editor for Dropbox files, allowing you to edit and save back, any text files that you store in your Dropbox folder. Instead it forces me to create yet another folder, where I will promptly forget what I am storing in this new folder.

Perhaps I am just spoiled by the recent Simplenote 3 update, but this really is not a great text editor. I am hard pressed to see any benefit it offers over Simplenote and that is reason enough alone for me to not use it.

Why You May Like It

Now that we have the bad stuff out the the way there is a subset of people that I can see really liking this app: those that don’t like to tinker. If you have Dropbox already and use a program like TextEdit or TextMate (and so on) then this is a dead simple method of syncing. Whatever is in the Elements folder is synced and accessible in the app, dead simple.

Simplenote requires that you start syncing with its service (free) and then if like me you use Notational Velocity (with text file storage) enabled, placing the folder for Notational Velocity files in Dropbox accomplishes the same thing as Elements. It is a bit more complicated.

Two Other Nifty Features

Emailing as an attachment is a really nice feature. Simplenote can email a note, but it cannot email it as a text file attachment (though it has several other sharing options). Being able to attach a text file to an email brings me a step closer to a full computing experience.

The second neat feature is the scratchpad, hit a button and you can jot a note, while you write another note. This feature is limited in its usefulness, but a great addition anyways.

Bottom Line

There is a very niche market for this app, and at a price of $4.99 that niche better be willing to pay up. Most are better off getting the free Simplenote.