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Summary:

Writer for iPad is a simple text editing app for those who write for a living. Since launch earlier this fall, Writer for iPad has been selling briskly and will end 2010 with 50,000 copies sold. Additionally, the app-maker has a surprise in store for you

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Oliver Reichenstein, a web designer and information architect behind well-known design firm, Information Architects, didn’t really have any plans to build and sell an iPad app; all he wanted was a simple text editor he could use on his iPad to pen his thoughts, without becoming defocussed by the web. He tried some of those available, but he didn’t feel satisfied. So he and his team built Writer for iPad.

It turned out to be great move. The app launched a few weeks ago, and since then, Oliver’s company has sold 20,000 copies. If current sales trends continue, Writer would hit about 50,000 copies sold. At $5 a copy, that’s $250,000 — not bad for what was supposed to be a very personal obsession. Writer for iPad is going through major upgrades and will have folders, auto sync and some other major tweaks soon.  If that’s not enough, the company is now looking to extend this product to Mac OS X and will be launching it in beta sometime later this year.

So what’s the big deal about Writer for iPad? Having used it from the very beginning of the app’s development, I have to say it’s the sheer simplicity of the app that works best. It’s not what features it has, but instead, the features it leaves out that define the product.

For instance, there are no graphical or formatting settings, helping you focus on the writing itself. It syncs with Dropbox, and it has a single beautiful font which makes writing and reading the app fun to use. In addition, it can tell you how long it’s going to take someone to read the text you are creating. It reminds me of my old Remington — every mistake had to be hand corrected and it made me focus on being accurate and using words concisely and efficiently.
If you’re a professional writer like me, you are going to enjoy working on this app.

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  1. … or you hope that the iPod’s Pages program actually worked a lot closer to its Mac namesake – say, like offering a visual cue when formatting (B,U,I) is enabled…

  2. You live a sheltered life. There are a number of attractive, quite easy to use text editors for the iPad, including one I use, PlainText. There’s no need to wait for folders. PlainText already has them and syncs with Macs and PCs via Dropbox. It also works with iPhones and iPod touches. Your iA Writer doesn’t. It’s a one trick pony.

    PlainText handles auto synching quite well. On his web site your friend claims, “Currently, you need to manually sync. Autosyncing was technically not that simple, but we’re looking into it.”

    The advantages don’t stop there. PlainText is free as an introduction into the developer’s more advanced products. iA Writer costs $4.99.

    This isn’t to say that both apps don’t have specific advantages. But writers need to look and decide which is best for them.

    1. Mark

      Sure there are many other apps one can use and that is precisely why I didn’t offer a comparative review. I have used many, if not most text editing/document editing apps for the iPad. I have found Writer for iPad suits me well. In the end, it is a matter of personal preference.

  3. You forgot to deduct Apple’s share …

  4. Paula Lee Bright Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    I’d be curious to know what you guys think of Evernote! I just added it to my iMac and iPad this morning.

    Thanks! :)

    1. Paula

      Evernote is another favorite app of mine and I use it pretty much every single day. It is pretty useful and is now my virtual clutterbox and I keep essentially a whole lot of stuff on it — research, web clips, pictures etc.

  5. More and more writers, and not just iPad users are reverting back to simpler writing interfaces that just let you write and nothing else. Although at the outset writing a story on an iPad seems like a tad claustrophobic it is just about getting used to some new interface.

  6. This app is brilliant. My only problem with it is that like a lot of “vanity” apps, it’s set up perfectly only for those that have a similar workflow as the author. For instance it has support for DropBox, but nothing else similar. Also, lots of serious writers still use formatting in their text even when writing drafts. Not being able to colour code passages, or use bold/italic will be a big problem for many.

    They really nailed the keyboard though. Far more useable for writing than Apple’s.

  7. iPad Writing Apps: PlainText vs. Writer : Apple « Friday, November 26, 2010

    [...] Bay Software’s PlainText and Information Architects’ simply named Writer (an app which Om clearly enjoys). Both do basically the same thing: create plaintext files that sync to Dropbox. Their approaches [...]

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