One year ago, a pair of Boeing engineers decided to revive the spirit of a dead Microsoft project called Courier, but as an iPad app. They named this project “Taposé,” and began a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for development.
This week, Taposé launched in the iOS App Store for $2.99.
Courier was supposed to be a dual-screen digital journal–the content creator’s rebuttal to Apple’s consumption-minded iPad. Users would combine notes, sketches, pictures, web links and other content into elaborate documents to capture their ideas. Using two screens, people could load websites, maps or other media on one virtual page, then drag the content into their notes on the other page. Microsoft never commented on the Courier, except in April 2010 to announce that the project had been cancelled.
So can a couple of new developers do justice to the Courier concept by turning it into an iPad app? Maybe some day, but in playing around with the app, it’s clear that Taposé still needs a lot of work.
During my hour using the app on the new iPad, it crashed five times. Stability is crucial for apps that deal with content creation, because a crash can mean work lost. Fixing critical bugs needs to be a top priority for the Taposé team.
Taposé also suffers from some questionable user interface decisions. To name a few:
- When viewing half your document alongside a web page, map or other content, it’s not clear how to flip forward and back through the pages. To do so, you must swipe left or right in a tiny area near the top corner of the page.
- Much of the app’s functionality is centered around a vertical bar where you select tools for typing, drawing, painting, cutting and pasting. But actions you’d expect to find on this bar, such as undo, search and zoom are hidden elsewhere in the app.
- Tapping a dot at the bottom of the vertical bar takes you back to your document list–a rarely important task that takes you out of whatever you’re currently doing. More useful options, such as opening a web page, are hidden in a menu that you conjure by dragging a finger upwards along the vertical bar.
- Taposé’s scissor tool is clever, letting you copy and paste a portion of any on-screen element, but it needs more accurate selection options, such as rectangular or circular selection tools. Also, when you copy an element, there’s no way to delete it from the action bar without dragging it onto your page first.
Taposé is still an interesting idea, just as Courier was. As a writer, I can imagine using an app like this to take notes or organize story ideas, especially once the team releases a Web version for accessing notes on a PC. But until the bugs get squashed and the interface gets cleaned up, Taposé is tough to recommend.