Napkin Review: A New Way to Explore Your Thoughts and Ideas

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By Gareth Henry   |   Last Updated 1 May 2023

In the ever-growing world of productivity apps, Napkin stands out as an AI-driven program that aims to enhance the notetaking user experience through building digital associations. With a unique approach to organising thoughts and ideas, Napkin presents itself as an intriguing option for those looking to explore their ideas in a different way. In this review, we will dive into the features of Napkin and discuss whether this form of digital notetaking is worth the price.

A Thought-Provoking Journey Through Associations

Suppose your notetaking involves lots of sticky notes, and it looks like you're trying to solve a true crime mystery. In that case, Napkin can help you transfer your thoughts and ideas into the digital world through smart tagging and resurfacing. In addition, Napkin enables you to organise your library of notes and make meaningful connections between thoughts you may have forgotten.

Pepe Silvia also has a special way of showing associations
Pepe Silvia also has a special way of showing associations

Napkin prides itself on its AI-powered ability to create connections and associations among a user's notes. The program is designed to give users a more organic way to explore their thoughts and ideas, allowing them to discover surprising connections between seemingly unrelated notes.

To begin using Napkin, users must sign up for a minimum monthly plan, though you receive a 30-day free trial. After that, the basic plan costs $10 per month, the middle plan costs $100 per year, and the biggest plan costs $300 for lifetime access.

Monthly to Lifetime Pricing Options for Napkin

Napkin - Beta Pricing

The account creation process is simple, and users are guided through the process of loading "key thoughts" into the software.

Each thought is written on a napkin, and the AI machine will suggest tags related to your note. As you revisit a note, other related notes also appear, prompting you to explore connections between notes. Not all associated notes resurface, leading to a more mindful and less cluttered experience.

The Simple Experience of Taking Notes and Tagging

Napkin - Example Notes

Furthermore, you can arrange a collection of your notes into different stacks. Whether drafting a blog post, mapping out a new product, or simply writing a long email, a stack can help you organise your thoughts more visually. This is particularly useful if you prefer to break an enormous task down into bite-size pieces or work in a non-linear fashion. For example, maybe you like to write your main arguments before writing the introduction.

You can enter a new note directly into the program, using the iPhone app, Chrome extension, and Readwise. However, to see all your notes and use them meaningfully, you do so by logging in on a web browser. So, you would only get full use of the software using a larger device such as a laptop or desktop.


Napkin's unique approach to notetaking allows users to uncover connections and relevant ideas that resonate with their thought processes. Many users find this aspect of the app to be calming and relaxing, as it provides an organic way to explore their thoughts and ideas.

This app could be handy in problem-solving and decision-making. The ability to connect thoughts you've had at different times and places to conclude a particularly tricky task is a great outcome that you may not have had on your own.


While the calming nature of the app may be appealing, it can also be a drawback for users who need to stay focused on the task at hand. The app's design encourages reading and exploring, which can lead to procrastination and a lack of productivity.

Napkin's focus on associations and self-discovery can become a distraction in itself. The constant exploration of ideas can lead to daydreaming and ideating, making it difficult for users to focus on their work or other tasks.


Napkin - Mobile Experience

The main drawback of Napkin (at the time of writing) is its lack of accessibility on mobile. This means you can't access your notes on the go (or on the toilet) unless you have a desktop device on you. The app is currently in Beta, so we do expect this to change in the future. However, most people do expect to be able to access all their notes across devices to get any meaningful use out of a notes app. 

Many large and well-established apps, such as Apple Notes, Microsoft OneNote, Google Keep, Evernote, Notion, and Obsidian, dominate the market. So, does the world need another notetaking app? 

When looking at Napkin's unique selling proposition, Napkin can: 

  • Auto-tag your notes; and 
  • Resurface related notes. 

Many of the larger notetaking apps mentioned above allow you to tag your notes manually and have sufficiently advanced algorithms to help you search through your notes to find what you're looking for. Ultimately, Napkin's key feature is automated tagging and resurfacing, and it would be up to you to decide if that is worth paying $10 per month. Currently, it's hard to justify spending money on another app that's not optimised for mobile. 

Ideal Use Case

Napkin's format is well-suited for journaling and creativity exercises, where users can maximise the smart journal aspect of the app. Or in cases where the user is an avid taker of small bite-sized notes and is looking for a way to digitise and organise these notes through tags.

However, if you require access to all your notes at all times or get easily distracted, you may want to save Napkin for times designated for free-flowing thoughts and exploration in front of your laptop.

Final Thoughts

Napkin offers a unique experience for users interested in exploring their thoughts and ideas through AI-generated associations. While the app can be calming and insightful, it's not available on mobile and has the potential to be a distraction from work or other tasks. For users seeking a more focused approach to notetaking and productivity, it might be best to use a different app for work-related tasks and reserve Napkin for journaling or ideation exercises during leisure time.

With the right balance, users can enjoy the benefits of Napkin's innovative approach to organising thoughts without sacrificing productivity. If you enjoy notetaking using Post-it notes, index cards, or random pieces of paper and want to turn things digital, Napkin might be the app for you.

Gareth Henry is the founder and Managing Director of AppSalon, a digital marketing agency in Sydney, Australia.

Gareth saw an important mission that needed doing in Australia - AppSalon's mission has been to provide world class, user centric design and SEO for websites, that assures small business success with client acquisition.

Gareth's marketing background is of an SEO specialist the last decade, with countless top 3 ranks for major commercial terms, such as skip bin hire, fish for sale, crystals for sale, and many more.

However, he realises not everything is SEO, and seeks mastery with website design, conversion optimisation, and content production, so a businesses brand and website can deliver beyond simply creating traffic.

This year has been a tremendous learning curve with AI and building web apps, and so now gen AI capabaility is part of the toolset Gareth delivers.

Gareth is considered an authority on creating websites and web apps that people adore, and is happy to provide insights to both established business owners and brand new hobbyists.


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