Version Reviewed: 2.0
iPhone Integration Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
WritePad Pro bills itself as "the ultimate organizer for Notes, Events, Affairs, and Voice Notes for iPhone and iPod Touch," and as that headline suggests, it covers—or tries to cover—a lot of ground. Unfortunately, the lack of certain features is nothing short of criminal in an app with a $9.99 pricetag.
The main screen is organized into category-based folders (Notes, Events, Affairs, and Voice Notes) and within each folder are all of your items, which can be re-ordered by name, date edited, and so on, as you choose. Once you select an item, it opens for editing.
Let's admit it: the main functionality here is the Notes section. In an app named "WritePad," being able to write quickly and accurately is a must—as is the ability to sort through your notes.
In WritePad, you have two input options: handwriting, or keyboard. The handwriting is selected by default, and works much as you'd expect. "Writing" on the screen leaves a trail of colored ink, and you pause after finishing a word or two, at which point the software converts it to text. The recognition works fairly well...as well as I would have expected from handwriting recognition software, anyway. You can see the image to the left for a test run, but suffice to say that it sure isn't perfect. Gestures are used for things like the enter key or scrolling up and down. However, I found that having to learn a host of gestures just to be able to use the shaky handwriting system to be an annoying idea at best. Plus, the fact that you have to wait for the program to convert your writing to text means that it's impossible to write as quickly as you could on paper. Unless you truly struggle with the iPhone's keyboard, I'd skip this input option.
Unfortunately, the keyboard isn't any better. It's the standard iPhone OS keyboard, sure, but...well, it's missing some key features. Like auto-correct. That's right: there's no auto-correct. In fact, you can't even use the double-space period shortcut. For me, that's inexcusable. Having to use the punctuation menu each time you end a sentence is an absolute pain, as is having to manually capitalize your I's and punctuate your contractions. There is an auto-complete menu that offers options once you begin a word, and it works well enough...unless you're in landscape mode. The landscape view displays barely any text, and trying to select an auto-complete option often led me to accidentally click on some other button.
Oh, there are some redeeming features. WritePad Pro features note searchability, spell check, auto-suggest, note exchange with other iPhones over WiFi, and email sharing. And, of course, there are a slew of organization features, including color-coding and categories. But the Notes app as a whole was much worse than Documents to Go, which happens to sell for half the price...mostly because it's impossible to type quickly in WritePad. Hmm...
Events can be imported from Outlook Journal, or can be created in-app. For each event, you designate a subject, start time, duration, priority, and a color. You can also add other elements: billing information, visited companies, mileage, involved contacts, and a picture. Many of the fields won't always be applicable, but they're nice to have, I suppose. Again, WritePad's organization features are fairly robust. You can sort Events by category, duration, color, start time, location...and so on. However, there's no calendar view
The Affairs folder is designed for organizing, well, one's affairs: tasks, jobs, contracts, or whatever else fits the format. Affairs require a title, a status ("not yet started," "deferred," "in progress," etc), a priority, a start date, and a due date. You can also add notes, reminders, categories, or associated contacts, as well as keep track of completeness in terms of percent and works hours.
Voice Notes are straightforward, too. Not much to explain here. There's no audio-editing software, and "category" and "priority" are the main elements of a voice note.
All Together, Now!
A few things ought to be noted before I sum up the review. First, WritePad Pro offers the useful feature of exporting your data in a standard CSV format. I haven't tested it myself, however. You can also use the built-in HTTP file server to exchange data with your computer, using the lite desktop software available on the website.
After experimenting with WritePad Pro for a while, I've come to the conclusion that it's trying too hard to be a jack of all trades...only to be the master of none. The Notes section, the bread and butter of the program, seems determined to conspire against the user. Writing on the screen, while...decent...still takes too long even under the best of conditions. Typing, meanwhile, is a royal pain thanks to the lack of basic features like the iPhone OS's built-in auto-correct and period-shortcut. The other features seem like they'd be better off as standalone apps. Plus, the $9.99 price tag simply isn't worth it given apps like Documents to Go or various to-do apps like Appigo's ToDo or Things.