If you’re sending a text message or chatting on a work chat app such as Slack, you have a limited number of ways to express yourself.
You can use plain text, of course, or emoji, or drop in a meme, or a Bitmoji, or a GIF from a TV show. And if you’re artistically inclined and have the time and software, you can devise your own memes or GIFs, but that’s a lot of work for most everyday communications.
A new app called HiNote, currently available for iOS, helps bridge that gap. It lets you use easily customizable, stationery-like templates for all kinds of greetings and messages, from work meeting invitations and thank you notes to informal wedding party planning messages and even grocery lists.
“I just thought it would be amazing to just have another stylish, expressive option,” says CEO and founder Alexis Traina.
The app is designed so that it’s easy to tweak its existing templates with a few taps, then share the resulting images in any messaging or social media app installed on iOS, including Apple’s Messages. Traina says she looked at how people were using emoji and Bitmoji, as well as older-school e-card services such as Paperless Post. She also drew inspiration from communications from brands like upscale fashion houses.
Generally speaking, she found that people wanted a less cumbersome way to send classy-looking messages from their phones on the apps they’re already using to communicate with people.
“They didn’t want it to take 11 steps to do this,” she says.
So far, HiNote has about 350 templates designed for different types of messages and different tones, and Traina says she’s seen the messages take off for an ever-growing assortment of event and activity types.
“We’re finding that people are sending out office communications for meetings, garage sales, trunk shows, little gatherings,” she says. “It’s incredible to see the mushroom effect.”
The app is currently entirely free, and Traina says the company is working with some commercial clients and events to develop custom notes for particular events. Holidays are also a big draw—”We really went hard on Valentine’s Day,” she says—with users more recently requesting templates for Mardi Gras and even Lent.
Traina says she imagines the app essentially becoming a digital “stationery box” for users that they can reach to for a wide variety of purposes, from messages around events to holiday greetings, without senders or recipients having to leave the texting apps that so many of our digital lives revolve around.
“The idea of texting in 2022 wanted an upgrade,” she says.