Ex-Facebook CTO Bret Taylor and former Google engineer Kevin Gibbs have introduced Quip, a "modern word processor" that enables users to create and share documents on any device.
The pair argue that since the 1984 introduction of Apple's MacWrite, not much has changed in word processing—though plenty has changed in the way we work and collaborate.
"We think it's a shame that the apps we use at work are old, poorly designed and bear the legacy of 30 years of feature creep and clutter," the pair wrote in the mission statement in their introductory July 30 blog post. "We think your time at work should be composed of the same delightful, beautiful experiences you've come to expect from modern mobile apps."
Or, that was the mission—they're not personally still using old, poorly designed apps. "Our entire company already runs on [Quip]," they added.
Quip works across desktops, tablets and smartphones. It's particularly suited for iPhones and iPads. A preview version for Android is available for testing purposes only, for those users game to experiment around the hiccups, said Quip.
Signing up for Quip is as simple as supplying your email address and allowing Quip to access your contacts. If you're cool with that, you're up and running. You can create documents that can include tables and photos, or numbered or bulleted lists, and loop in other Quip users in a way that feels and looks like a text message thread.
Quip shows an example of a press release in progress, in which various coworkers can make edits to the document and comment to the group, and a visible thread shows who's accessed the document. In addition to speeding up the process, Quip ideally also helps to reduce the number of emails exchanged.
Users can create folders and share them with different people, and
documents can even be accessed offline.
In another example, roommates keep a shared grocery list that each can access from their iPhones. Should Roommate A add an item to the list after Roommate B has left for the store, B would receive an alert, saying that the list has been updated.
Quip is free for individuals. A free trial offer is available for companies, but the Quip Business is $12 per user per month and includes features such as remove device management and a user-admin console. An Enterprise version, with enhanced security features, is in the works.
Fiddling with the desktop version, I found the formatting aspect of it to be not super easy. It's simple, in that there are few options, but it takes a little getting used to. Presumably, everything is being automatically saved—because the app has no obvious way to save, which is likely to make anyone used to writing more than tweets nervous.
You can print documents and turn them into PDFs. While it works on desktops, Taylor and Gibbs add, Quip "really shines" on phones and tablets.
The pair also say there's more to come.
"We are starting with the word processor," they wrote, "but our mission is to eventually build the productivity suite for the mobile era."