I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.


Three friends of mine — John Gruber, Dave Wiskus, and Brent Simmons — secretly got together to build an app, and today they released the first version to the public.

You’ve probably heard about Vesper by now. I’ve been testing it for a while, and I think of it as a note shoebox with optional tagging. Many other apps, most of them for less money, allow you to write and store notes and photos, so it’s perfectly reasonable to ask why you should use Vesper over your existing text-notes app of choice.

Even for a 1.0, it’s pretty light on marketable features by 2013’s standards. It’ll lose a feature checklist comparison to almost every other popular text-notes app. Notably, Vesper can attach a photo to each note, or have photos that are notes without additional effort, which most Dropbox-syncing text-note apps can’t do. But Vesper can’t even sync to Dropbox.

From the outside, then, it’s easy to be dismissive or even resentful: How can these guys launch a relatively expensive text-note app that’s missing so many features of competing text-note apps?


It takes balls to release an iOS app in 2013 for $4.99.

It takes balls to enter this extremely crowded category.

It takes balls to release a note-shoebox app in 2013 that has no sync, import, or export.

It takes balls to name your note-shoebox app after a cocktail nobody has heard of, then to age-rate the app “12+ for mild alcohol references” just so the cocktail’s recipe can be included in the Credits screen.

It takes balls to give your note-shoebox app a nondescript, abstract icon to match its cocktail name so nobody who sees just the name and icon will have any idea what it does or likely be enticed to find out.

And it takes balls for these three high-profile people, whose collaboration naturally earns extremely high expectations and polarizing reactions, to build and release anything together.

The best thing I can tell you about Vesper is that the app reflects its creators. I imagine they’ll add sync in time because it’s critical and very useful — otherwise, I don’t expect Vesper to get many more features.

But every feature in the app is extremely deliberate and thought-out: every mechanic, every restriction, every interaction, every animation. Every detail.

It’s a nuanced, polished app that’s pleasant to use and exudes craftsmanship. Simple flavors, executed extremely well. A vesper.