Ahhh, the glamorous life of the professional writer. Spending untold hours alone in a room staring at a screen awaiting inspiration with no guarantees of attracting the interest of a publisher, let alone readers, after baring one’s soul on the page. Many successful writers will say, when in the grip of the Muse, they go into a kind of trance with thoughts flowing faster than they can be written down. But inspiration is a fickle thing and, once found, often difficult to hold onto. A new iPad app from Information Architects called Writer for iPad is designed to remove many of the distractions that can send inspiration packing and give writers a better chance of maintaining focus.
Even though word processing programs like Word and Pages are a godsend for editing text, many writers actually still prefer a typewriter or even the handwritten word to get ideas down – at least for a first draft. Others opt for basic text editors such as NotePad or TextEdit because they offer a relatively distraction-free interface. The folks at Information Architects have taken this to the next level with a simplified interface that removes all of the unnecessary distractions of standard word processors, such as auotcorrection, scroll bars and cut/copy/paste.
The developers say this approach takes advantage of the limitations of writing text by hand, where there a limited number of words in your field of view and editing is messy. In comparison, text on the screen quickly becomes labyrinthine and can lead to a chaotic loop of crisscross editing that destroys the organic structure of the original thought. The developers don’t suggest writing in Focus Mode at all times, rather, “the idea is to use it when you get stuck, blinding out everything else.”
Although the onscreen keyboard sees the addition of row of keys at the top of the standard iPad keyboard with arrow keys and quick access to frequently used punctuation, I’d still be opting for a physical keyboard such as Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard or the Jorno folding keyboard we looked at recently.
The app also features Dropbox integration for synching documents to the cloud without having to go through iTunes. Apple’s recent announcement that AirPrint wireless printing will be coming to the iPad (and iPhone and iPod touch) in iOS 4.2 is sure to come in handy for users of the app as well.
Version 1.0 of Writer for iPad is available in the App Store now for US$4.99. The development team at Information Architects is now working on updates to add word count and sort out a few minor bugs in the current version. The team is also working on a desktop version with an advanced Focus Mode and “cool editing features.” If they put half as much thought into it as they have with Writer for iPad it will no doubt be worth considering as well.
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