IPad Writing Apps That Authors Love

iPad and WriterAs a writer, I’m a big fan of writing without internet distractions. When I go to my local writing group’s coffeehouse write-ins, I do bring a laptop, but I hesitate to turn the wifi on for fear that I will end up spending my time surfing the web instead of writing. Yet, there are times when connection to the internet can be useful. For this reason, I keep my iPod Touch beside my laptop for research, to use as a timer, or to provide background music. The action of having to leave my primary writing device to call on the internet is usually enough to keep the insidious Facebook and Twitter at bay. I use well known iOS apps such as Evernote, Dropbox, iTunes, Clock, and Kindle on the go. I can recommend any of these as must-have apps whether you write directly on your iPad or simply use your iPhone or iPod Touch for research as I do.

For those that are thinking of using their iPads to do creative writing, I’ve assembled a short list of iOS apps for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch that go beyond the usual recommendations for using Evernote, Dropbox and iTunes that you see everywhere else. I hope you’ll find these apps useful whether you use your iPad to actually write your text or simply use it as a research tool by the side of your main writing device.

All the apps reviewed below have been tried by me at one time or another. I have not been asked to review the app by the developer nor do I have any financial stake in their product. These are simply apps that I personally have found interesting.

For more reviews about iPad apps, please visit my other post: More iPad Writing Apps That Authors Love.

Manuscript
Compatible: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
requires iOS 4.2 or later

$3.99

This was one of the first writing programs I uploaded into my iPod Touch, on recommendation of a Nanowrimo buddy, and I find it useful for brainstorming or writing notes. I can use it as a straight word processor too, although with my small iPod screen I don’t do my main writing with it, preferring to use my other writing devices. On an iPad, it would be a good basic word processor paired with a bluetooth keyboard. What the app does is walk you through the steps of writing: Pitch, Synopsis, Chapter Outline, then then writing your Content. You can create a storyboard with color-coded index cards. Add, edit, and reorder chapters. It will track your page and word count, a real plus during Nanowrimo. Manuscript has a built in thesaurus and dictionary, in addition to other research tools. Finally, it is dropbox compatible. I find it a great place to store story outlines, character sketches and location descriptions since I can create these files in Scrivener, upload them to dropbox and then download them into Manuscript for easy viewing.

Pages
Compatible: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
requires iOS 4.2 or later
$9.99

One of the most highly recommended iPad writing apps is Pages. While it is one of the more expensive apps to purchase, it is feature rich and intuitive to use. It is compatible with MS Word or plain text files. Pages is dropbox compatible, can print via AirPrint, or converts your file to PDF to share via email. You can import files from Mail, the web, or your Mac or PC using iTunes file sharing. Most of my writing friends that write with their iPads use this app as their basic word processor. Due to its MS Word compatibility, it makes any file that you create with it easily transferable to your PC at the end of the day.

Clean Writer
Compatible: iPad
requires iOS 4.3 or later
99 cents

Clean Writer is a distraction-free plain text editor for iPad. Most options are hidden from sight and it has customizable color themes and font selection. The app only uses plain text files such as .txt, .md. html and will not open .doc, .rtf or .pdf. It has a live counter of characters, words and lines, can be set to auto-save your files and creates intelligent file name defaults that prevent accidents. Another interesting feature is that you can use gestures on your touch screen to pinch a font, tap for a quick jump and swipes for files. It is compatible with dropbox or you can sync via iCloud. Clean Writer is a wonderful candidate for people that write via markdown and has a preview and conversion function for this style of writing. There are other text writers for markdown writing on the market, but this one is fully featured and at a much lower cost.

Dragon Dictation
Compatible: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
requires iOS 4.0 or later
Free

My husband is the one that originally brought Dragon Dictation into our household. He dictates reports for work and then sends them to his assistant via dropbox. I grew intrigued with using voice to create text in apps and other writing programs. I find that the Dragon does a good job. You will need to set aside time to train the app to your voice, but it does not take long for the software to learn your speaking style. I find that Dragon is great for quick notes on the fly when I’m in a quieter setting. I do not find it good for write-ins at coffeehouses since when I’m in a public setting, I tend to keep my writing more private. However, I think that since it is free, it is a great app to add to your arsenal of tools to use. When you want to take a quick note and don’t want to pull out your bluetooth keyboard or hunt and peck on the screen keyboard, Dragon is the way to go.

Writer’s App
Compatible: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
requires iOS 4.3 or later
99 cents

I normally keep my character sketches, location descriptions and chapter notes in a Filofax planner. I find that flipping through the pages can locate the information that I need quickly and I do not need to worry about dead batteries on the go. However, by using paper, it is difficult to transfer this information back into my computer organizational system.

This writer’s app reminded me a great deal of my Filofax in that while it is not a word processor, it is an easy way to store those certain character details on my iPod in a way that they would be easy to find. All my characters can be found in one place, locations in another, chapter outlines/synopsis in yet another, and so forth. It also has templates to help you create the sketches of your characters if you haven’t done it on your own before. All the contents of the app can be sync via iCloud to all your iOS devices. While I am not certain that I would want to give up my Filofax and fountain pen, if you are more the type to want to keep your files on your iPhone or iPad, this might be an excellent research tool. At 99 cents, it is at a bargain price too.

Advanced English Dictionary and Thesaurus
Compatible: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
requires iOS 4.3 or later
Free

Having a good dictionary and thesaurus on hand while writing is a must-have. I love having this in my iPod Touch in addition to my paper bound ones that I keep in my writing bag. It is best used when your iPad or iPod are being used for researching tools beside your main writing device.

When you look up a word in the Dictionary or Thesaurus, the app provides synonyms, antonyms and similar and related words to help you make your writing more interesting. It has a “fuzzy” filter when you are not sure of the spelling of word to help you find it in the dictionary. You can create a favorites feature that helps you make your own categories and lists of words. Your last visited words are saved in a history so you can quickly go back and recheck words. A new feature to the app is that you can snap a photo of text and it will scan the words and translate them. You can even play a mean game of hangman in it when you are bored.

Index Card
Compatible: iPad
requires iOS 5.0 or later
$4.99

Index Card is a writing app that looks like a corkboard, similar to the one that comes standard in Scrivener. It allows you to capture, organize and compile your story ideas much as you would do with an old-fashioned board and paper index cards. You can drag and drop the cards, tap a card to open it for editing, swipe the editing screen to go through your project one card at a time or scroll the list of cards to browse your whole project. The app is compatible with Dropbox or with iTunes file sharing. There is an option to print your index cards from the app via AirPrint. What makes Index Card unique is that it is also compatible with the Mac version of Scrivener! You can use this app on the go to develop your chapter index cards and then import them into Scrivener to develop them into full content files later. My friends that are heavy Scrivener and iPad users recommend this app highly.

MiTypewriter For IPad
Compatible: iPad
requires iOS 5.0 or later
$1.99

I had to include this app in the list, as a distraction free writing environment with few frills. The app simulates an old-fashioned typewriter complete with all the sound effects. You can write your email with this and then send it either via image or text. When you want to erase your text, you use the backspace key. The Fonts, that come in either black or red, are “Old Typewriter” or “American Typewriter”. It does have a minimal document management system and it is compatible with AirPrint. I’m a writer that switched to a mechanical keyboard to return to having the “typewriter sound” when I write in my studio, so I personally found this app to be appealing for writing on the go. I can not recommend this app for writing long pieces of work, but for email and notes it certainly seems like fun.

Lists for Writers
Compatible: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
requires iOS 4.3 or later
$2.99

This has proven to be one of my better research tools when I’m out writing at the local coffeehouse. The app is a hodgepodge of lists to help you brainstorm new ideas. There are lists of names, character traits, plot lines, occupations, verbs and more. It has a functional dictionary built in and a place to keep writing notes that you can later upload to your main computer. I keep this app on my iPod touch, but it would work on any iOS device. The iPad users in our writing group had a easier time reading the information of the lists as compared to myself on the smaller iPod. It was a real hit among my Nanowrimo compatriots last November.

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11 thoughts on “IPad Writing Apps That Authors Love”

  1. Personally, I’m still very fond of OmmWriter, although increasingly I find myself just using Google Drive. That can very annoying though, if I don’t have a wifi connection.

    1. Finding a good wifi connection can be a problem. I like to use apps that are as independent as possible from the internet so I can use them anywhere. I haven’t tried OmmWriter. I will check it out. Thanks for stopping by the blog. 🙂

  2. The connection to the internet is exactly why I don’t use evernote for my main work app. For most of my writing I use Textilus. If you have a Mac you can tie Scrivener indirectly to Textilus through dropbox. Sadly, you can only get half way there if you have a PC like I do but I still love what I can do with Textilus.

    For flash fiction I use pages. Mainly because I won’t have to transfer too much around. Icloud is on the PC and pages will download to Word.

    There has been rumor of an IPad app for Scrivener for a little over a year now. I am anxious for that one to happen so maybe I can tie my PC directly to the IPad with it.

    1. I keep hearing about the Scrivener iPad app too, but it is behind schedule. Index Cards seems to be the best stop-gag to use in the meantime. I have not heard of Textilus, I will have to check it out!

  3. Hey Wendy,

    Thanks for sharing. Honestly, I don’t own an iPad (planning to have a mini soon) but I have an Android tablet. One of the challenges is that…they don’t have a mouse. Haha!

    it is funny to type on that but it is definitely doable. Let me keep your suggestion in mind and will get them installed when I get a mini (expected in 2 months or less).

    Thanks for the write up (again).

    Reginald

    1. I have not reviewed the android apps as yet, but will do so. I have both platforms, although I do most of my writing on a windows desktop or laptop and on my alphasmart Neo. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by the blog. 🙂

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