Writing on your iPad might not be the most productive solution for your ten-page essay, but you may come to a point where, through choice or necessity, you want to get some serious writing done.
Most might just opt for using Apple’s $10 Pages app as it seems like the perfect companion to an iPad but, whilst that’s a great solution, there are some awesome alternatives you might want to consider before diving into a purchase.
If you asked Steve Jobs what writing application he uses on the iPad, you’d probably be directed to Apple’s own Pages app. Pages is part of the iWork suite and it was introduced alongside the iPad last January to much applause.
Pages is my writing app of choice and was my first iTunes purchase, ever. It’s perfectly suited to the iPad and co-operates with both iWork on Mac and Office on any platform. If you want to print, Pages integrates seamlessly with the handful of AirPrint printers.
If you’re looking for an application that works, and provides a lovely canvas for your upcoming novel (whilst you sit and show off the sleek profile of your iPad 2 in Starbucks) Pages might be for you.
Documents To Go is an alternative word processor but actually a fully-fledged office suite in a single application. Documents To Go edges towards the editing side rather than the creation and works especially well with files created in iWork.
Documents To Go comes with a free desktop application for WiFi syncing to transfer files to and from the application. However, Documents To Go also syncs with the likes of Google Docs and Dropbox so you can work on documents across platforms with relative ease.
iA Writer is a beautifully simple writing application that was reviewed by Kevin Whipps back at the start of April. There’s no heavy user interface here or complicated settings to worry about. The application just focuses on what’s important: the writing.
The minimalist writing application uses a combination of a clear background, fixed-width font and the iPad’s big soft keyboard to create a pleasing and intuitive experience.
Kevin Whipps described the application as “a genuinely good word processor” and I can only agree with his conclusion. If you don’t want any fancy formatting, iA Writer is a great choice.
Developer: Information Architects
WritePad is a word processor for iOS that comes with handwriting recognition so you can create, edit and share documents that have been handwritten. The developers boast the application’s ability to adapt to a specific handwriting style to increase the accuracy of recognition.
If you combine this with a third-party stylus – an accessory that Steve Jobs despises – you can take notes right on the iPad’s display and have them translated into text.
WritePad also features translation integration so you can write and have it translated into another language courtesy of Bing.
PaperHelper is an innovative essay word processing app that puts your editor and browser side-by-side. Aimed at writers needing a lot of research or sources, PaperHelper splits the screen into essentially two applications.
On the left side is your text editor which has some basic formatting options such as text style, alignment and a spell checker. On the right side is a basic browser that allows you to copy URLs and extracts into your document.
The idea of combining the two sides is fairly unique and helps contribute to a more PC-like experience on the iPad. At only $0.99, it’s a worthwhile experiment.
PlainText is a delightfully simple, minimalist text editor that uses serif fonts to create a wonderfully designed application. PlainText takes the clutter away and focuses on the writing.
You may ask: why would you opt for this application over the stock Notes app? Well the key selling point (or lack thereof, since it’s a free app) is that PlainText allows you to organise your documents and sync them with Dropbox.
Dropbox syncing allows you to share documents and make them available on other platforms including the universal iPhone/iPod touch application binary that offer a similar uncluttered, minimalist writing experience on another great mobile platform.
Developer: Hog Bay Software
Nocs is another application that features Dropbox syncing so you can edit documents on the fly and across various platforms and applications. If you don’t want to go the Dropbox route, you can also work independently and file share over USB with iTunes.
Nocs is a text editor at heart but also features Markdown support for previewing and exporting documents in HTML with formatting, structure, links and images.
Additionally, considering the wide range of accepted files on Dropbox, Nocs can view Microsoft Office, Apple iWork, PDF and RTF file formats, even those with international characters in.
Missing from this list so far is a text editor that syncs with Google Docs. gDocuments fits that description providing plain text editing capabilities with Google Docs documents, especially useful if you are not a Dropbox user.
gDocuments allows you to view most Google Docs formats including PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets, but also allows text in plain documents.
In addition to that gDocuments allows you to manage your Google Docs account by adding folders, moving your documents, starring, and hiding files.
Text Editor Pro is a word processing application that allows you to not only edit plain text files, but also play and view video and photos.
Text Editor Pro even has some built-in photo editing tools to change the saturation, luminosity, temperature, and colour balance of photos right inside the app. You can even apply some basic filters to your images to enhance your documents.
Developer: Impact Financials
Hopefully we’ve convinced you that there are some great word processing applications available for your iPad – with each having its own pros and cons. I have used Pages extensively myself and it seems like the best all-rounder with a wide range of formatting options. However, if that’s too much for you, I appreciate PlainText‘s minimalist and uncluttered writing approach.
A few weeks back, the Weekly Poll question was “do you use your iPad for writing?” – and it turned out that quite a lot of you do use your iPad for document creation. What’s your favourite word processing app? Let us know in the comments!