The App Store is growing at an incredible rate. For every single possible type of app, there's a near overwhelming amount of choice out there. That's particularly noticeable for the writing app world. There's enough variety out there to ensure that users can use a different writing app every day of the week for the next five years, probably. We've taken the time to pick out some of our favorites from the category, as we round them up and figure out just what our overall pick of the bunch is.
Immediately tough to narrow things down to only half a dozen, we've singled out Byword, Wisdom Writer, iA Writer, Pages, Daedalus Touch and Textilus for a further look.
Byword is a great all-rounder writing app. Using Markdown formatting, it's simple to use and ideal for a variety of uses. It's possible to search within documents, track word and character counts, check spelling and grammar, as well as export to PDF or HTML. For a premium price of $4.99 it's possible to publish directly to WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger, amongst others. However, that does make Byword a quite expensive solution, weighing in at $9.99 for the full complement of options, plus the exporting file facility is still quite limited.
Wisdom Writer aims to be an intuitive writing app. While it doesn't always hit the spot, with a few interface niggles, it's a great way of writing in an uncluttered environment. It's possible to add lists, images, and tables to one's writing, as well as text. A selection of predefined templates further ensure that the app is great for more professional writing as well as quickly scribbling down some notes. It's a pity then that the app can't open or import RTF, Docx, or Pages files despite extensive exporting features.
A minimalist delight, iA Writer dispenses with all the fanciness of many other writing apps, focusing on the writing experience alone. There are no formatting options to be seen, no file extensions to deal with, nothing more than just pure writing. While some users might find this limiting, it's tough not to be bewitched by its simple and effective syncing options covering Dropbox, iCloud, and the ability to switch between Apple devices running the app. A Focus mode and keyboard extensions further simplify the core writing process.
Notably different from the previous entry, Apple's very own Pages is a great app for creating professional documents while on the move and is nearly as simple to use as the Mac version. 16 templates and styles are available for those wanting to create letters, flyers, cards, posters, and more while on the move. iCloud support and the ability to drag documents from one's PC or Mac straight into the app are very useful. Lack of Dropbox support is a significant omission, though, for those who like to keep their documents safe in one place.
Capturing the minimalist feeling once more, Daedalus Touch does things a little differently. The focus is on the content, but there's no sign of a folder or file list. Instead, the app uses gestures to flick through paper stacks of files and notes. It's a technique that's unlike anything else here. Daedalus Touch isn't just about the looks though, including plenty of syncing support via Dropbox, iCloud, and others, as well as numerous ways to send a document to another app. Something that's going to be essential for those who want to do anything more than just type.
Unlike the other apps featured, Textilus offers support for a very significant form of writing. It caters for those who use Scrivener to form novels and particularly significant documents. Besides that, it's possible to export to numerous different document types such as PDF, RTF, TXT, PNG, Markdown, and HTML. Images, charts, and even one's own signature can be easily added through the app, and syncing support is quite varied. It does suffer from some buggy moments though, which are never welcome. Plus its interface could be clearer, especially where Dropbox support is concerned.
So what's our favorite writing app?
Much like anything on the App Store, this selection is suitably varied. Much of it comes down to individual needs. For instance, Daedalus Touch is undoubtedly the finest app for those seeking an absolutely minimalist experience, however it lacks some very useful features. iA Writer maintains the minimalist quality while still offering features such as Focus mode to keep one's interest. A file list system proves much simpler to navigate than Daedalus Touch's gesture driven methods.
Textilus might offer a huge wealth of options, particularly the ability to add one's own signature, but it suffers from some instability issues, plus it's only available for the iPad. In comparison, Pages enjoys the reassurance that comes from being so similar to a desktop app that will have been used by many before, but it is more expensive than most other apps here. Wisdom Writer offers a fine mix of a simple writing environment alongside great features, but its slightly limited in what it can open and its interface can be problematic.
Each of the contenders here are brilliant at certain roles, depending on how the user writes. Which is why our favorite might not be the best at everything, or the highest rated, but is a great all-rounder. That app is Byword.
Byword manages to straddle that thin line between not being so minimal that it lacks features, and not being so complex that it distracts users. It ticks all the major boxes; proving simple to sync between other Apple devices, offering offline access, a handy search tool, and comprehensive word and character counters. While it might be expensive to purchase publishing support, it gives users the flexibility to buy the tools that they want and not be cluttered by anything else. Even better, there's no need to spend ages consulting tutorials as it's immensely simple to get to grips with.