I was extremely excited to find out today that MUJI, the Japanese “no-brand” brand, which sells a wide variety of minimalist designed consumer products has just launched four iPad / iPhone apps – a calendar, notebook, travel companion, and an apparel catalogue.
I immediately downloaded them all (except the catalogue which is only available in Japanese) and below are my first impressions:
MUJI Calendar (free)
A simple calendar which can sync with your Google Calendar for easy access. Includes pinch-in and pinch-out gestures take you to the schedule items you want to look at in more detail with daily to-do lists.
I’m not entirely sure if you would want to use this over the inbuilt calendar app, which is almost exactly the same, but the touch gestures do make it easier to navigate. The only downside I found is that it doesn’t offer a landscape view but this shouldn’t be a big disadvantage to most.
MUJI to GO (free)
Provides a number of information widgets focused on travel and mobility such as a world clock, weather, currency calculator, and international power plugs and sockets. The app highlights related products at the top but these can be hidden.
I can see this being really helpful for people who are often on the move although some of the interface interactions like adding a new widget are a bit confusing. Aside from this, it’s a useful replacement for the missing apps which Apple mysteriously choose not to port from the iPhone to the iPad. For free you can’t go far wrong with it!
MUJI Notebook ($3.99 US)
MUJI is well-known for its simple user-friendly stationery so a notepad app seems like a logical extension of this. Advanced features such as handwriting recognition and predictive text input allow you to take notes and to sketch at will.
- Combination of handwriting recognition and predictive text input
- Thickness and colour can be chosen for lines and characters
- Four different page types can be selected: ruled, gridded, quadrant, and plain
- You can import photos and PDF files from iPad and iTunes
- You can email your notebook to your friends and colleagues
While the handwriting recognition is a novel idea in practice it’s a lot slower to enter text this way than just to type it in with the keyboard (although this may be different if you’re using Asian languages with complex characters). Other than this it’s a great app and I can see it being especially helpful for annotating imported pictures and doing quick sketches.
It’s nice to see MUJI extending its design philosophy into the digital environment without just trying to plug its physical products but all the apps have shortcomings which need to be addressed in later versions. MUJI Notebook is definitely the best and the most useful of the bunch, hence the price-tag, but it will be interesting to see how it fares against similar apps already in the iTunes App Store. Hopefully, they will continue to improve them and make an English version of the catalogue app.