Napkin Genius

Just about everyone has scrawled something on a cocktail napkin at some point… phone numbers, brilliant ideas, crude drawings of various body parts… and that seems to be the inspiration behind Napkin Genius and its “be ready when genius strikes!” tagline.

The “napkin” theme here is really just a metaphor that suggests how you could use this sketching/brainstorming app. You’re out running around and an idea suddenly hits you, so instead of scribbling on a napkin that will inevitably wind up lost in a seat cushion, you can scribble on your iPhone instead.

Clearly there’s no shortage of apps that let you draw lines on your iPhone, so what makes Napkin Genius different? Well, for starters, you can draw on a canvas that looks like a napkin! Haha, yeah I know, it’s cute but not really a selling point.

The area where Napkin Genius differentiates itself is in how your work gets edited. Each line you draw can be individually selected with back/forward arrow keys, and when something is highlighted in yellow you can delete that line only and leave the rest of your work intact. I’ve used a few drawing apps in my time and so far this is the only one that offers this nice little feature. Drawing with your fingertips is hard enough as it is without having to recreate stuff you’ve accidentally erased with an errant swipe.

Another nice touch is that you can exit the app and then resume your work later… the sketch you were working on will still be editable.

Otherwise, though, the feature set in this app is pretty light. You can import a photo to draw on which is great, and of course your masterpieces can be saved to the camera roll, but the only tool options are line width (thin, medium, thick) and line color (black, red, white).

Even though it feels like this should be classified as a drawing app, Atomic Powered has placed Napkin Genius in the Business category which suggests that their target market isn’t interested in making “art” with brushes and erasers and every color in the rainbow. They just want to capture ideas in the same quick & dirty way they normally would on an actual napkin with a ballpoint pen. Simplicity is always underrated, but at the same time I feel like this app could use something more.

Keeping the business user in mind, I think Atomic may want to consider incorporating some of the features found in the undisputed king of creative business software: Microsoft Powerpoint.

I’m not saying a full-blown slideshow creator is called for (dare to dream…?), but I think some of these Powerpoint-ish features would go a long way towards extending the usefulness of Napkin Genius:

  • A text tool… writing with fingertips is soooo hard
  • Basic shapes, ie: oval, square, triangle
  • Arrows and connectors
  • Callouts (similar to speech bubbles)
  • More color options

I have no idea if this is really the direction that the developer wants to go with this app, but if I were a business user I’d probably be more inclined to give Napkin Genius a spot on my iPhone if it were just a little more… “businessy”.

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