The Moleskine Journal is designed to bring the full aesthetic experience of using a traditional Moleskine notebook to the digital screen of the iPad, a task which the app performs well.
Unfortunately, the format of a traditional notebook with no other features does not work out well on the iPad when there are so many other fantastic, fully-featured note taking apps available, like Penultimate and Notability.
The app itself is visually appealing, opening with the traditional pebbled Moleskine cover. Tapping the cover reveals a bookshelf, which is filled with different Moleskine notebooks. You can choose plain, ruled, squared, weekly planner, storyboard, or recipe.
Each notebook takes a few seconds to load, and initially opens up with a set of instructions. You’ve got your toolset at the top of the app, which gives you access to pencils and pens. You can also access a text tool, choose a color, and use undo and redo functions.
While the pens, pencils, and brushes are well designed, writing and sketching with them is not as fluid as it is in other apps. There is some noticeable lag, which makes it feel like there’s a significant amount of drag when writing.
There are also issues with latency when performing actions like using the undo button and when erasing, which to be honest, makes this app almost unusable.
Some features, such as the scissors that allow you to select and cut any part of the image or the variable eraser tool are brilliantly done, but it’s hard to get over that delay when actually using the app.
The notebooks look nice, but when it comes down to usability, it’s just not quite there yet. For example, the lined notebook has small lines, and even when zooming in, it’s still difficult to write within the margin. I should note here that there is no way to do zoomed in writing, as you can with notebook apps like Notability. You can also only zoom in when using the app in landscape mode, which is limiting.
You can add pictures to your notebooks, and there’s a neat feature called the inner pocket that allows you to store both images and tidbits of text to enter into your notes. This is handy when you need to repeat something often, and to use the pocket, you simply drag from the box to the page.
As I mentioned with the lined entries, many of these pages are simply too small to comfortably use, due to both the size of the pages and the inadequacy of the tools (response wise).
This is an app that has the potential to be a great journaling tool, with plenty of paper and pen choices, an intuitive UI, and a lot of nifty extras, but it is in desperate need of an update to improve both latency times and responsiveness before it is usable.
What I liked: This app is nicely designed. I liked the tools and I liked all of the different page options.
What I didn’t like: The Moleskine Journal is light in functionality, though the app description says that’s soon to change. What made the app unusable for me, however, was the significant lag when writing anything. Quick feedback is the number one most important element of a stylus or finger-based journaling app.
To buy or not to buy: This app is free, so you should give it a look and keep it on your iPad. At some point, there will be an update to increase usability, and it may go from a mediocre app to a great app.
- App Name: Moleskine Journal
- Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
- Category: Productivity
- Developer: Moleskine
- Price: Free