Review: Quotebook for iOS


“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
– Carl Sagan

Sometimes when I’m browsing the web, or reading a book or article somewhere, I happen across a quote that strikes me in some way, and I feel compelled to save it somewhere for later. The reasons vary of course, but the most common one is simple: inspiration.

I’m not talking about the fluff you’d find on cheesy motivational posters, but rather genuine insight given to us by the great minds of the world. The kinds of teachings that show us how to be more than we are; that inspire us to achieve greatness.

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.”
– Tom Stoppard

Of course, a quote doesn’t have to be inspirational. It could be an awesome song lyric, or maybe a funny line from a movie. Whatever it is, I just like to make sure I’ve got it saved somewhere.

Being the nerd I am, I used to keep a list of these quotes in an Evernote note but unfortunately that note became a little unwieldy as I added more quotes over time. I thought about splitting them all up into separate notes, which might not have been too bad a system, but luckily I found an even better (and more specialized) solution: Quotebook.

Quotebook is an app that acts as a repository for all those nuggets of wisdom you might want to keep around for later reference. It’s more than just a simple list, though; it helps you keep everything neatly organized and searchable, it syncs between iPad and iPhone via iCloud, and it lets you easily share quotes with other people.

The main list view can be sorted either by date-added or by star rating (1–5). You can also go back to find things in the database via:

  • A search bar, with live results as you type
  • The list of tags you’ve created
  • The names of all people you’ve attributed quotes to
  • Sources for each quote (URLs, books, songs, poems, speeches…whatever the case may be)

“If you need one of a dozen reference books at any given time, your desk is no more beautiful or “minimalist” for having them tucked neatly away in an unusable way; in fact, I think it loses much of its beauty as it becomes dishonest, a clean modernist caricature of what it really should be.”
– Chris Sauve

To be fair, there is nothing here that you couldn’t accomplish with something like Evernote if you really wanted to, but let’s be honest, it just wouldn’t be as good of a system.

The tags used for quotes (for example, “Inspiration”) would almost definitely overlap with notes containing web clippings from blog posts or other inspiring things you’ve found on the web. At least, this would be the case for me, and I would rather keep standalone quotes separated from that other stuff.

I suppose I could always come up with quote-specific tags such as:

Quote - Inspiration


Quote - Humor

to keep them from getting mixed in with other notes, but why go through all that trouble when an app like Quotebook exists specifically for this purpose?

There’s also something to be said about how easy it can be to add quotes into Quotebook, provided you’re on an iOS device (unfortunately, there's still no web bookmarklet available that I'm aware of). Let’s say you’re reading an article on your iPad, and the article contains a quote, like so:

“Write drunk; edit sober.”
– Ernest Hemingway

Leave aside the fact that this quote may not actually be attributable to Hemingway. The point is, you can copy the quote and its author to your clipboard, head over to, and it will auto-detect what you’ve copied. If the text is decently formatted, the app can often figure out which part is the quote and which part is the author, then place those bits of text into the appropriate fields. Pretty cool, huh?

Once a quote has been added to your list, you can tag it and rate it from 1–5 stars. I personally don’t save a lot of crappy quotes[1], so almost all of mine are rated 3 stars or higher. Your mileage may vary.

“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”
– Buddha

Now, I’d like to discuss the respective designs of the iPad and iPhone versions of Quotebook. While the iPad app is quite beautiful, the iPhone app leaves a little to be desired. Compare them for yourself:

Notice the differences? You almost can’t even tell that they’re the same app.

For one thing, they share none of the same typography. I’m not enough of a font guru to know at first glance what each app uses, but clearly the iPad app’s serif typeface is different from – and in my opinion, much prettier than – the iPhone app’s blocky text.

[Just for fun though, I’d like to take a crack at each font: I’m guessing the iPhone version uses Helvetica, and the iPad version uses Linux Libertine (the font used in the Wikipedia logo)? If someone knows either way, let me know. Moving on…]

Their toolbars are also nothing alike. One might look at the iPad app’s leather accents and complain about skeuomorphism or whatever, but I think it looks rather lovely and I wish the iPhone version would match it.

This is purely an aesthetic opinion though, and maybe I’m silly or shallow for even caring. From a usability standpoint, both versions get the job done perfectly. It’s just that…I would enjoy using the iPhone version so much more if it took some design cues from the iPad app. Surely I’m not the only one who thinks this way, right? …Right? *voice echoes into the void forever*

“Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
– William Morris

Design differences aside, I really love this app and would recommend it to anyone. If you want the best possible app for storing quotes, you need to get Quotebook. It’s only $3, so check it out and share some of your favorite quotes with me! I’m always looking for more to add to my collection.

  1. I mean, why would I do that to myself unless my name is John Gruber and I’m saving “claim chowder” for later?  ↩