The New Paper



A little while back, I posted a full review of Paper by 53, which has been my favorite drawing app for years.

Recently, 53 released Version 3 of Paper, and the app has undergone drastic changes, so it’s due for an all new review.

First of all, Paper used to be an iPad-only app. The update makes it compatible with both iPhone and iPad, which is great. I prefer to use Paper on iPad because of the bigger screen, obviously, but it’s definitely nice to have it on your iPhone if you ever need to jot something down or sketch something quick.

Fifty Three added some new features. The original tools and Think Kit are all still there, but now the toolbar has three little tabs. The first tab is an all new text feature, which I love. You can make checklists, take notes, add captions to your drawings, and easily talk to other artists. You can swipe to change the style from regular, title, subtitle, checklist bullet, and regular bullet. You can also double-tap a section of text to change the style to italic, bold, underline, or strikethrough.

The second tab is photo upload. Like other users of the app, I have mixed feelings about this feature. There are some benefits:  you can annotate and spotlight parts of an image, add your drawings to photos, etc. The problem with photo upload is that it could potentially add a lot of spam to Mix, and it blurs the line between what people drew in Paper and what they just uploaded. (In case you were wondering, the third tab is the old tools.)

That brings me to Mix. Mix has been around for a little over a year now, and it has always been fun and easy to use. If you don’t know what Mix is, this is the summary I wrote in my previous Paper review:

“In September 2014, 53 added a new service called Mix that works within the Paper app. It has over 1 million creators as of March 2015. You can sign up and share your creations made in Paper, as well as see what other artists are making and follow them. Not only that, but you can “remix” their work. You can draw on it and add to it, color it, change it, whatever you want.”

53 has completely changed how Mix works, including getting rid of the name! What used to be the Mix section is simply “People You Follow.” They removed some of the best features it had (such as the popular replay button) and it is considerably more difficult to navigate. 53 doesn’t seem to be featuring art from the community anymore, which is really unfortunate. That was one of my favorite parts of being on Mix. Despite having over one million creators, Mix really did feel like a community. It doesn’t feel like that anymore. The changes were unnecessary and disappointing. (My profile is still there though! I am now Ray of Light on Paper instead Ray of Light on Mix.)

The notebook interface has been replaced with “spaces.” These spaces are like folders, where, if you click on them, you see all of your ideas laid out. It’s kind of like a collage or a mood board, and if you watch their new intro video you will get the idea.

As far as changes to the drawing mode, they modified the way the rewind and zoom features work, which I am not too happy about. There are a few other kinks too right now, but I’m sure the little bugs will be gone in future updates.

I still love Paper. I used to love everything about it, and now I love almost everything. I’m unhappy about the demise of Mix, but otherwise, I’m okay with the update. It’s going to take some getting used to, but in the long run, I think I’m going to get a lot of use out of the new features.


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