So you’ve decided to start writing on your iPad, be it the original model or the shiny new iPad. You’ve made the call to use it not just as a consumption device, but as a creative device. You begin to look for the usual suspcets, but Word doesn’t exist for the iPad and Apple’s Pages is something you could probably avoid if you’re willing to look around a little bit.So you’ve decided to start writing on your iPad, be it the original model or the shiny new iPad. You’ve made the call to use it not just as a consumption device, but as a creative device. You begin to look for the usual suspcets, but Word doesn’t exist for the iPad and Apple’s Pages is something you could probably avoid if you’re willing to look around a little bit.
Or…you could just take a look below and get a taste of what I consider to the 5 best writing apps for the iPad.
1. iA Writer
Write without distraction. That’s the whole idea behind iA Writer, which first appeared on the Mac and has since made its way to both the iPad (and very recently, the iPhone). If you’re looking for a writing app that has very little in the way of customization, then this is the app for you. It’s pleasant on the eyes and keeps you focused on the task at hand – writing. And it syncs across platforms using eitehr Dropbox or iCloud, so you can write on whatever platforms you have ia Writer installed on. That’s pretty darn seamless.
Simplenote is a fantastic app that will allow you to do the same in terms of syncing that iA Writer does. But Simplenote is generally viewed as an app used for notetaking more than writing. Still, with its ubiquitous nature and cross-platform capabilities, Simplenote is among the best at letting you get the words out of your head and onto the screen. Any screen.
3. Writing Kit
Writing Kit may not look as pretty as iA Writer, but it has a ton of bells and whistles built right in. The app has a browser integrated right within the app, allowing for research and quick linking where needed. It also allows for export into a variety of apps, including Things and OmniFocus – a great boon for the writers out there who happen to be right into productivity as well (ahem). The fact that Writing Kit allows writers to use Markdown syntax (as does ia Writer – and Simplenote when you bring something like nvALT into the mix), syncs to Dropbox and features a plethora of options for users puts it as a bit of a dark horse on this list. But a very worthy addition all the same.
If you’re looking for something clean and simple, PlainText has got you covered. It’s not as feature-rich or as pretty to look at as some of the others on this list, but it does what it is supposed to do: help you get writing done. The team behind it also developed the very populat WriteRoom (Hog Bay Software), so they’ve got experience in this realm. It does allow for syncing via Dropbox and is perhaps the most frictionless app on this list because of its stripped-down nature.
The new kid on the iOS block, Byword has been around on the Mac for some time. Now available for both the iPhone and iPad, it brings much of what the Mac app had to the mobile platform. Featuring Markdown support, syncing in the cloud, and an interface that balances feature set, focus and function, Byword already makes this list based on my limited time with it. Those using Byword on the Mac should jump into using it on the iPad to create a continuum in their writing workflow, and the consistency across all platforms is what makes this one a winner in my books during my brief look at it for the iPad.
There are others to consider (Notesy immediately comes to mind), but hopefully with this guide you’ll be able to find the writing app for your iPad that best suits you. Because there’s nothing worse than playing around with writing tools rather than actually writing with them
(Photo credit: Contemporary Digital Tablet… via Shutterstock)
My History With The iPad
Before I can explain why the iPad failed as a device for me, perhaps I should discuss some history about how I’ve used iPads over the years. I’ve been an iPad owner since day one. In fact, there’s a funny story about me chasing the UPS guy down the street sopping wet to retrieve my iPad on launch day. I’ve used an iPad every day since then.
While I’ve admired my friends who use their iPads for work and productivity, my iPad has always been more of a consumption device. Admittedly, that’s something I’ve had mixed feelings about. I’ve always felt I should be doing more with my iPad. After all, I have a podcast that’s all about being productive with your Mac and iOS devices and my co-host David Sparks literally wrote the book on using your iPad at Work. While I certainly can and do use my iPad to get work done and for productivity related activities, it has never been my preferred device for those tasks.
When it’s time to give a presentation, write a legal brief, respond to an inbox full of emails or record a podcast I almost always reach for my Mac. Unquestionably the larger screen of the iPad Pro coupled with the multitasking features introduced in iOS 9 make these types of tasks easier on the iPad Pro than they ever were before. But I still find it to be a compromised experience compared to using all the power of OS X with a full-size keyboard and mouse.
Still, the iPad is my go-to device for many tasks. In fact, when I come home from work in the evening, most nights I don’t touch my laptop. Instead I lounge in the living room or bedroom and use the iPad. The iPad is my preferred device for using Twitter, reading and providing short responses to email, looking up information on the web, browsing RSS feeds and related tasks. Most days, my iPad stays at home. It can generally be found on the coffee table or night stand. It’s the first thing I pick up in the morning and the last thing I put down at night.
I used a 9.7“ (standard size) iPad for years, until the iPad mini 2 was released with a 7.9” retina display in late 2013. While I was initially skeptical about moving to a smaller size screen, I was intrigued by the smaller iPad and willing to give the mini a try based on my previous positive experiences downsizing to smaller screen computers. Immediately I fell in love with the smaller size iPad. The iPad mini was more comfortable, lighter, easier to hold with one hand, and was just small enough that I could slip it in my purse and take it with me for the day without giving it a second thought.
In late 2015 I briefly tried an iPad Air 2 . While I loved my iPad mini, I found myself longing for a slightly bigger screen when using my iPad for writing or working with PDFs as well as the recently introduced split-screen support for working with multiple apps. While the iPad Air 2 was fine, after several weeks I found myself continually reaching for the old mini. I was just more comfortable with the mini. I got rid of the iPad Air 2 and upgraded to the mini 4 in late 2015.