My wife and I are planning a dinner party. There are countless apps to make grocery lists and discover recipes, and I can make to-do lists in Reminders while following every task through a spreadsheet in Google Docs. But there’s no great way to do that elusive task on my phone–to really brainstorm–while putting the plan together.
Catch (also called Catch Notes) is a free cloud-based list app for iOS, Android, and web. It’s not the newest app on the market, but in the past year or so of refinement, I think it’s become one of the best collaborative apps around.
It starts with your Spaces. They’re basically lists that you can keep to yourself or share with others. You may make one space “work” and another “home decorating.” With a button press, you can share any space with a friend.
Together, you can add items with the app’s sizable plus button, which expands into a fantastic radial menu. From here, it’s just a quick tap to add a photo, a voice message, a list, a reminder or a to-do list. It’s an interesting UX approach: Rather than starting with the message, then considering the media as an attachment, Catch starts with the media, then makes the message the attachment. It’s a simple flip of conventions, but in use, it’s a more logical way to streamline idea sharing. Because really, an idea on any digital device usually centers around shared media.
Assuming you’re not so great about clearing out your messages, Spaces will eventually be full of your ideas. To parse the data, Catch supports hashtagging, so every update you make can be funneled into a simple search parameter. You can even search hashtags across all of the spaces you belong to, meaning your ideas needn’t be confined to a stupid organization decision that you made five months ago.
Ultimately, I’m not sure exactly how to classify Catch. I’m left with the aftertaste of a 37signals product in my mouth, as if I’m using Basecamp with its power tools stripped away, sprinkled with a touch of Path’s quick geotagged, media-sharing philosophy. There are certainly changes I’d make–the media previews could be bigger, the typography inside messages could be more beautiful, and the iPad app feels like a clunky, rusty station wagon compared to the zippy, single-frame iPhone app (an irony to be sure). But given that Catch is free to use until I want to share documents or I break the 35 spaces mark, well, it just seems downright ungrateful to complain.