More iPad Writing Apps That Authors Love

Hands Holding iPadI tend to not use tablets to do my writing. I am more comfortable using my Alphasmart Neo as a digital typewriter, keeping my iPod Touch nearby for research, serve as a dictionary, or to provide music if I don’t like what is playing at the coffeehouse. However, I am discovering that more writers are turning to their Apple iPads as full flung writing devices, forgoing even their laptops in favor of the lighter weight, smaller tablets.

The following is a personal review of iPad apps that family and friends have recommended to me. These apps are all focused on creative writing: some favor markdown language, others are great PDF annotative apps or additions to your favorite note taking apps and one is a great companion to blog writing. I have not been asked to review the app by the developer nor do I have any financial stake in their product.

If you love iOS apps, please also click over to an earlier post: iPad Writing Apps that Authors Love.

Penultimate
iOS 5.01 and later, iPad only
Free

Many writers are used to jotting research notes in a Moleskine notebook with a favorite pen, but with the advent of the iPad, many are turning their offices paperless. The Penultimate app for iPad has been purchased by Evernote and now seamlessly integrates with their note based system. Handwrite notes in the classroom, on the go, or in your office and your sketches will automatically be saved in Evernote. If you have Evernote premium, your handwritten notes will be searchable. Penultimate imitates different paper and pen options to make your writing experience on the iPad more comfortable. If you already use Evernote, this is a no-brainer addition to your already robust note taking system.

iAnnotate PDF
iOS 7.0 and later, iPad only
$9.99

Save your manuscript to PDF and use this app to read and annotate it in your iPad. You can choose different types of text to write with from pens, highlighters, stamps, straight-line, typewriter, underlines, strikeouts and more. Copy and paste your annotations from one document to another. You can connect iAnnotate with Dropbox, Google Drive, Skydrive, iTunes, or open PDFs from emails and the Internet. The PDF reader aids in the editing and revising process by taking your manuscript from one source and allowing you to view it as if it was a printed work, giving you the ability to see your words in a new light. If you are looking for a way to removing printing your novel and using a red pen to mark it up, this might be the solution you are looking for.

Notebinder
iOS 6.0 or later, iPad only
$6.99

I found this PDF note taking app to be interesting because it integrated audio and video capabilities along with your note writing. It reminds me a little of the Livescribe pens that were very popular a few years ago. It allows a little more customization of the screen, is compatible with Pogo Connect and iPen Styli, one touch access to your notes, the ability to easily timestamp notes, and it can switch the touch screen to make it more left hand compatible. However, I find that the import/export is not as robust as the previous reviewed iAnnotate.

Goodreader
iOS 5.0 or later, iPad only
$4.99

This PDF reader has won many favorable reviews for its robust features and integration with many online systems. You can read pretty much anything on it: books, maps, text, and photos. You can even view movies with it. Goodreader can be used for manuscript annotation since you can write on the PDF as if they were printed pages and can even handwrite in the margins. It has all the annotation goodies that you would expect in an app. Exporting is a breeze due to the numerous methods you can utilize. You can import/export via USB cable or a wifi connection, from email attachments and set the app so that it auto syncs with your favorite cloud server. Goodreader connects with Dropbox, Skydrive, Google Drive, SugarSync and many other online servers. Of all the PDF readers I’m reviewing in this article, I feel that this one is my personal favorite.

Editorial
iOS 6.0 or later, iPad only
$4.99

If you love to write with Markdown, this is a minimal app to do that comfortably with on your iPad. With a simple swipe to the left, you can switch from an in-line markdown preview to full HTML preview of your document. The smart keyboard is designed for writing markdown and includes all the special characters you will need. The app comes with 50 pre-configured actions, but you can add to them with your own python scripts to make it even more customized. Your documents sync with DropBox.

Blogsy
iOS 5.0 or later, iPad only
$4.99

While I would not use this app to work on a novel or short story, it is helpful when writing blog posts, something I do almost every day for my writing platform! One of the reasons people buy iPads is so that they can get work done on the go. You can maintain several different blogs at the same time with Blogsy on the following platforms: WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, MoveableType, Drupal, Joomla, Tumblr, Squarespace and MetaWeblog. Use the built-in web browser to drag and drop videos from YouTube, photos from Flicker, Picasa, Facebook, Instagram and Google image search at the touch of a button. Style your blog posts with bold, italics, text alignment and more. Easily change the image and video properties and alignment via menus, write and edit in HTML, toggle comments on and off, and much more. You can also schedule your posts, create online drafts and pending-review posts right inside the app. It also has markdown support. It is no wonder that this app has received so many rave reviews all over the internet.

CloudOn
iOS 6.0 or later, iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad
Free

As a writer, many of us are used to working in the Microsoft Office environment. CloudOn allows you to use your iOS device to access your Word, Powerpoint, Excel files easy to access and use on the go. You can edit documents, spreadsheet and your presentations from anywhere you travel, be it an editor’s office or the local coffeehouse. Transport or store your MS Office files via Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive. The app version of Office is minimalist and streamlined, but it is fully compatible with your computer Office programs.

Cymbol
iOS 5.1 or later, iPad only
$1.99

Cymbol gives a unique functionality to your iPad’s keyboard. This is an app designed by writers for writers and provides a fast access to those special characters not available on the iPad’s onscreen keyboard. On Cymbol’s ready scratch pad, you can save a variety of enhanced character sequences, symbols and other snippets to then be cut and pasted into your written document. Cymbol provides common symbols such as the pilcrow (¶) and section symbol (§), copyright (©), trademark (™), text glyphs such as the number abbreviation (№) and other typography. The application includes full sets of subscript and superscript numbers used in math, chemistry, and physics documentation.

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20 thoughts on “More iPad Writing Apps That Authors Love”

    1. I’m not sure. I have an android and will likely do a review of android writing apps sometime in the future. I’ll add MS tablets to the list. One of the wrimos in my region was using a Windows Surface tablet to do her writing on this year and it worked quite well for her.

      1. I am still using my old lap top but have watched the tablets advance with envy. I am not sure I am ready to jump into a tablet just yet. I am a late adopter, and just got my first net book which I find difficult to type upon because it is so small. I love the net book’s light weight.

      2. They do look fun. I love my little iPod Touch. I can use most of the iOS apps on it and find that in addition to the music, it is a great research tool. The more I research the apps and talk to my friends that do use their tablets as a writing tool, the more I lean toward getting one, although I doubt any of them would have a more comfortable keyboard than my Neo.

  1. I can’t do it. I can’t write on my iPad. Ok, I can, but I don’t unless I absolutely have to. I love reading on my iPad, but my favorite device to use for writing is my desktop. I just love that big screen!

    1. I hear you, Kenna. :) I tend to write mainly with my desktop or my Alphasmart Neo. Both have great keyboards. I think it is the tactile feel that makes a difference with me. I have written using my iPod, if you can believe it. The screen is very small and while I had access to a bluetooth keyboard, it was difficult. Something I’d only do in an emergency. Yet, the iPad screen is bigger and if I’m on the go, I would give the iPad a try in that situation. Otherwise, I’d stick with my desktop too. :)

      1. I have written on my iPhone when I get a great idea and it’s all I have, but it certainly isn’t my preference. I even bought a keyboard for my iPad, thinking that might make it more functional. It didn’t. I ended up just giving it to my husband.

  2. I did not believe anyone was still using older style word processing machines such as the Neo. I thought those had died out a while back in the early, dark days of Macintosh hell. I am not hating – if it works for you run with it. I understand the Neos have a long battery life, and the schools love them for their durability. With net books now slightly more costly than a Neo I do not see the advantage of owning such a limited device unless you already have one or absolutely need the full size keyboard. One of the major drawbacks of my tiny net book is that the keyboard is minuscule and difficult to type on – for me at least.

    1. The Alphasmart Neo is very popular with the Nanowrimo crowd. It’s limitations is what makes it the perfect drafting machine. No wifi, no distractions and because it is hard to edit (not impossible) it helps to turn off your inner editor. The battery life of 700 hours doesn’t hurt either. I don’t think of it as a word processor, but instead a digital typewriter. You can buy a Neo used for around $50 on the bay. It is simply one of the tools in my writing kit. I don’t use it for editing or printing. Just for drafting.

  3. Thanks, Wendy!

    A Novel Idea is an iPad app I find useful for organizing stylesheet notes. There are four divisions: scenes, characters, locations and ideas. The app syncs with Dropbox, so it’s easy to back up your info and keep it accessible for use with other devices.

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