When it comes to note taking and writing apps, it seems like there are a million different options to choose from, all of them with their own little perks and quirks. One popular option for the iPhone was Drafts, a “simple,” yet very usable app that made it quick and easy to do whatever you wanted with your text. Unfortunately, it wasn’t available for the iPad. Not until now.
Today, Drafts for the iPad is brand new and it’s got a ton of new features. How good is it? Well I’m using it to write this very review right now, so let’s find out together after the jump.
An Intro To Drafts
I’m new to the Drafts scene, but not to text editors. Although its billed as a easy and quick way to capture text, it’s what you do with that text that can make things more interesting. With Byword, you know your text is for a document. What is it for with Drafts?
In a word, everything. Drafts makes it easy to shuffle off your information wherever you want, and share it accordingly. So even though I’m writing this article in Drafts and sending it to my Mac via Simplenote (more on that later), I can just as easily use it to write up an email or send a tweet. There seem to be a million different ways to use it, so you have lots of options.
Typing on the iPad isn’t my favorite thing to do, and with some text editors, it’s a practically unusable feature. Not so with Drafts. Not only do I feel confident in saying that I’m typing at around my usual rate, some of the options installed above the keyboard make the process much easier to do.
For example, there are brackets along the upper left row of the keyboard that move the cursor around the screen quickly and easily, without the need to stop typing and use your hand. There’s also an undo/redo option, which does just what it sounds like. Oh, and there are the popular quick tools for Markdown up on the top right side. It’s not the best additional keyboard setup that I’ve seen, but it’s definitely up there.
I’ve become a big convert to the Markdown scene recently, as it allows me to write text for the web quickly and easily without any fancy coding language required. Drafts supports Markdown, so I can write a document with all of the fancy tags and it will even render it for me when I ask. Like this:
Although this is well and good, I find myself using the square brackets quite frequently with Markdown, and those are very difficult to get to using the iPad’s normal keyboard. It slows down the process substantially, and I wish that those keys were added to the existing Draft options.
Share and Share
One nice thing about Drafts is the ability to share whatever you type with seemingly everyone. Right now I can send some of this text as a tweet, email, Markdown email, as a post to OmniFocus or open it in another writing program. That comes in pretty handy, and you can even customize the order of the options if you like.
In addition, you can also send your docs to Dropbox, which is a nice way to share your docs on your Mac and iPad. By linking up your Dropbox account, you can move files effortlessly. A very nice touch.
The engine behind Drafts’ syncing system is Simperium, which is the service developed by the people who do Simplenote. Simperium is stupid fast, meaning that if I want to sync Drafts between my iPad and iPhone, it all happens automatically. That’s a nice feature to have.
On the flip side, Drafts isn’t a universal app, meaning you’ll have to buy separate versions if you own both devices, bringing the grand total to around $5. Why the change? Well it’s in the Drafts FAQ as follows:
We understand that many people have both iPads and iPhones and like the simplicity of Universal apps running natively on both devices. There are also many who do not own both types of devices, and by selling two different versions, it allows us to provide a reasonable price for those that do not wish to use the app on both.
I’m not sure if that really satisfies the question, but that’s the official word.
You can do anything you want with your text, just by making a few adjustments with the Settings. Hit the Share icon in the top right corner, then the gear, then Manage Actions. From here, you can adjust your actions up and down to your own preferences, or tweak them even further.
Once you double-tap on an action, you’re given a few different option how to configure the setting. If you don’t want it there at all? Turn Active off. If you want confirmation before it runs, select that tab. Want to make a new draft once the action is successful? There you go. You’ve got options is the point, so you can do what you want, when you want.
There is one thing to point out here, that bears mentioning. Drafts isn’t free, and there’s a lot of competition out there that is. Namely, Simplenote. So why switch over if there are other options that might work better for you?
Good question. I think for some, Drafts offers so much flexibility that they want to support the system. You can change the fonts, the general appearance and where your text goes. For others, it’s the interface, something which I just don’t find very appealing. There’s just something about it that’s not very iOS-like to me, but I can’t really put my finger on it.
So now the big question: is this the app for you?
I really like typing in Drafts, so using it on the day-to-day doesn’t seem like a bad idea. I can quickly jot down an idea, or turn it into something more if I like. Plus, knowing it syncs so well with pretty much everything — either via Dropbox, Simplenote or Simperium — means that I know I’ll always have control over my data.
Ultimately, whether or not you like Drafts or not will come down to whether you already have an app in your arsenal that works for you. If you don’t, then Drafts will most likely fill that void, with all of the extra bells and whistles at such a lot price. And even if you do, what’s the harm in spending a little bit of money to try something new? Give it a shot, you just might like it.