Craft is made for the Apple universe. It is the best note-taking app for the iPad if you don’t need handwriting as a must-have feature. Although it supports the Apple Pencil and lets you create sketches or write typed text with the integrated Scribble feature, it is not made for the Apple Pencil. If handwritten notes are a must, then you should rather look for alternatives such as GoodNotes5, Notability or Noteshelf. However, Craft allows you to structure and nest documents using backlinks. Something that we cannot do with Notability and co. and we only know from tools like Notion or RoamResearch. Craft also makes it a breeze to add media such as video, GIFs, or photos into my notes.
As Craft provides deep linking it is easy to share my notes on other platforms and easily open specific notes inside Craft using. Talking about sharing notes, Craft was also built with collaboration in mind. This means you can work in real-time on documents in GDoc style if you like to.
Read on to find out if the new app on the block Craft is the answer to all your note-taking dreams!
Craft is only available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. This is great news for Apple universe inhabitants as it means it is optimized for your devices and allows seamless synchronization between devices… But not so great for all other users. This being said, you can still share notes on the web for anyone to read.
When opening Craft for the first time my initial impression is that it feels very intuitive, the tutorial is great and at this stage, Craft feels complete in comparison with other similar tools. With nested pages and backlinking Craft has positioned itself well as a competitor to Notion and Roam Research.
So, let’s look at the key features that differentiate Craft from other note/document apps you may use:
- Content: The documents and pages allow you to create structures similar to chapters in a book. There are unlimited documents on both packages, blocks are limited to 1,000 on the personal package but are unlimited for Pro subscribers.
- Viewing documents: You can view multiple documents in this app, again an improvement on Notion where you would have to open a second document in your browser.
- Styling text: You can select text and edit and style it, highlight it, create headings. All of these functions can be actioned using a mouse, or touch so you will not need your laptop to edit. If you are using Craft on an iPad it is easy to use with touch or if you prefer you can use your keyboard and mouse.
- Visual Content: Craft integrates media beautifully, even more so with a higher quality option for the premium package.
- Linked notes and Back links: You can create your own structure by nesting notes within notes which helps with grouping and organisation. It is possible to create connections and links between pages. These links also behave like backlinks (only three backlinks per page for the personal package, unlimited for the professional). Like Roam Research, you can see the content of the back link in Craft, which is better functionality than Notion where you can only see that there is a backlink.
- Deep link: If you share a page from Craft by selecting ‘Deep Link’ it will share a link that can be pasted into Safari and it will open craft. This means the link can be added anywhere; Evernote, in an email anywhere you like!
- Markdown: Craft supports a number of markdown style shortcuts, great for those who prefer these to make editing and writing faster!
- Export – Exporting content is easy and can be done in a number of formats such as PDF, Markdown, TextBundle and Email. I can even export a document from the Craft app on my iPad to my MacBook using Airdrop.
- Frictionless Sharing: If you tap on the three dots you can get a secret link that you can share with anybody. This will allow you to share your contact using a link. You can also collaborate with others in real-time with shared content. To remove the logo from this link you must upgrade, but this is one of the few restrictions seen on this first look at Craft. It is also possible to control if people can see comments and comments, hide comments, in shared links. It is also possible to allow people to view linked pages if enabled from the shared link. You just click a button and people can actually access everything linked from this page and nothing else. Another great feature that is not currently possible with Notion where you have to manually give them access to linked content.
Switching devices and working online or offline.
When switching between your Apple devices Craft looks almost identical and the real-time updates when switching between devices is very impressive. When you are working offline Craft stores the updates and once you are able to connect to the internet these changes are uploaded.
The big gap for me is that there is no database functionality, so for now I will continue to use Notion for the database connection.
When I’m writing books or articles or scripts Craft adds lots of value, it looks and works better than Notion for me in these areas. The added bonus of links, backlinks and sharing make it a beautiful way of building up my documents. I’ve already signed up for the Pro version, I am definitely a Craft fan!