iA Writer for iPad has been popular as a distraction-free writing app, and I’ve been looking forward to the Mac version. Now that it’s finally here, read on to find out whether it’s worth your money or not.
Writer is distraction-free in the truest sense of the term; it doesn’t even have a preferences window. You can’t change the font size, the font, or really anything else. The app is completely unapologetic about this, too; you either like it, or you don’t. But even though it doesn’t come with a lot of features, the ones it does have are well-implemented.
Most of the features from the iPad app are present in the Mac version, such as Focus Mode, which dims out everything except the current sentence, and Reading Time, which provides an estimate of how long it would take someone to read through what you’ve written. One of the new features that isn’t in the iPad version is Auto Markdown, which automatically formats text written in Markdown, in effect making it somewhat of a semantic text editor. This is a boon for web writers, as Markdown makes it easy to convert text to valid HTML.
Writer’s interface is one of my favorite things about it. The title bar is black and fades in and out, like QuickTime X’s. The scrollbar also fades in and out, like on iOS or Lion. In effect, all you see once you start typing is your text, and I love that. However, since this is a 1.0 release, there is some interface weirdness. For one, the dot that appears in the close button to let you know there are unsaved changes is always there, even right after you save, which kind of defeats the purpose. Another thing is that the title bar is black in focused windows, but in unfocused windows, it has the default “slate” appearance.
iA Writer is available in the Mac App Store for an introductory price of $18, which is 10 percent off. Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about the price. You don’t get many features, and you can’t even change the font size. Plus, the iPad version is $5 and offers almost all of the same things. But I have to say, writing with Writer is a pleasure. Something about making that funky cyan-colored cursor move across the screen makes me happy, and that’s worth the $18 to me. Whether it’s worth it to you depends on how much you trust yourself to focus.