The iPad. The perfect writing device, right? The tablet surely doesn't miss apps meant for writers, quick note takers and bloggers alike. There are hundreds of text editors available in the App Store, not to mention the word processors and apps meant for more specific tasks such as novel or screen writing.
The iPad has the writing tools.
One may wonder whether all these tools actually have something in common or are all single pieces of software based on fundamental differences and unique features. It is undeniable that the trend amongst most text editors for iPad is to come with Dropbox sync capabilities. Of the "writing tools" mentioned above, the text editors rely on sync nowadays. And to good reason: it was a pain to save a post or note as a .txt file and manually manage it. Now everything happens in the cloud, in the background, automatically.
The Dropbox trend has lead to great apps: PlainText, Elements, IA Writer -- just to name a very few. Writings, a new app released today by Italian developers Ludovico Rossi and Vito Modena, shares a feature set similar to other writing applications available in the Store, but comes with new functionalities and interaction methods that have made it stand out from the others on my iPad.
Writings makes composing text on the iPad a real pleasure.
Maybe it's because of its minimal interface design (at least the one that comes by default), perhaps it's just about a single feature the devs implemented to make it easy to move the iPad's cursor between words. Whatever it is that makes Writing great, typing on this app is a beautiful and rewarding experience.
While in writing mode, the UI is non-existent. There's just text, an optional character counter (you can tap on it to toggle word, character and line count. With text selected, the count refers to the selection -- neat) and your virtual keyboard. Pair the iPad with an external keyboard and there's only text on screen. You can even hide a document's title by tapping on a button at the top of the page. I like this simplicity. I also appreciate the default font choice: Gentium Plus makes for great readability against the app's soft sepia background. Writings doesn't come with a custom keyboard like IA Writer, but it's got a neat trick up its sleeve nevertheless: you can tap on the margins to move the iPad's cursor. It feels so natural to me I wonder why didn't anyone else think about this before. The margins are just right by default, but you can adjust the page width if you want. You can also modify the font, font color and background but again -- just leave everything as it is.
The margin feature alone makes my writing experience with this app significantly better than the one I had with several other alternatives I've tried. In fact, I think Writings provides one of the finest text crafting environment on the iPad. It also confirms that Apple's virtual keyboard is pretty sweet.
While I don't think anyone should change Writings' default UI, I wish I could change the main screen. I don't like the fact that it's got these huge thumbnail previews for notes and the interface is too cartoony. The icons look silly to me. Also, you're forced to trigger Dropbox sync manually. Here's to hoping a second version of the app will come with automatic saving and a more serious UI in the document switching interface.
I like Writings because it helps write more, with focus. It's not that kind of app that comes with revolutionary features and breakthrough graphics, but what it does is achieved with an absolute simplicity and attention to details. $4.99 in the App Store.
We have 3 copies of Writings for iPad to give away to lucky MacStories readers.
To enter the giveaway, tweet the following message before 11.59 AM PDT (December 18th):
Win a copy of Writings on MacStories: http://mcstr.net/i2vi5U
We will search Twitter.com for tweets and retweets and randomly pick up the winners.
Make sure to follow @macstoriesnet on Twitter so we can get in touch with you once the giveaway is over. If you want to increase your odds of winning, you can also leave a comment to this post.
Winners will be announced on Saturday (December 18th).
Update: Here are the winners of Writings for iPad. Sorry for the delay! Check your Twitter DMs.