Thursday, January 31, 2013

Writing Apps for Ipad

So having just finished another book, writing it using an iPad no less. I thought I would weigh in a little bit on a few of the writing apps and programs I have used. Starting with the big one.

Microsoft word for PC or Mac.
The heavy hitter of the word processor world, competed with by maybe one other well known program, Apple's Pages for Mac. Word is the heavy hitter because it has every feature you could want, wrapped up in an incredibly intimidating and convoluted interface. That basically is the good and the bad in a nutshell. It is awesome, just difficult to use. Personally, I wrote my first novel with it, but my second time around I used it for the final phase of my writing. use it at the final phase. To format for Smashwords and Amazon. Plus one quick run through Word's spell check. I really like that method and plan to use it for the future.

Apple's iPad app, Pages.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, I used my iPad to write Baal's Puppet. Not because I wanted to necessarily, but my Macbook took a fall for the worst and hasn't turned on since. So there I was, faced with the decision of what app to download and went with the obvious choice. For starters, it looks great. The nice interface that Apple is well known for, easy to jump into, inviting, and fast. It has all the features that are necessary, a spell check, word count, page count, and recently got a change tracker. Plus, of course, tables, charts, plenty of fonts, everything you would expect from a word processor.
Now for a few flaws. A few months ago when I started Baal's Puppet, Pages didn't have access to drop box in any shape or form. Now it does, but its kinda cumbersome and not really built in. It just has a "Open In" feature that lets you send it on over to the Dropbox app. It does have iCloud support but if you are like me, you want to be able to access it from any device, not just Apple products. Also, the spell check is just a spell check, no sentence check, or structure check, and it doesn't work nearly as well as Word's does. And during the proofreading step, I wasn't using my keyboard to type, just the onscreen one, and occasionally when I backspaced several words out, it would crash. That is when I realized that it has a great autosave feature that makes sure you never lose more than a sentence at most.
With the gripes above, you would think I may hate Pages. But really it is the best. Has the needed features with a great interface. If you are like me, you don't like a million buttons on the screen while you write and pages takes the minimalist approach in that department. One of the biggest things is Pages allows you to send files in three different formats. PDF, Pages (which is docx. I believe,) and most importantly, doc. For anyone who has had to nuke their book in order to rid it of all formatting errors, you know it's a pain in the ass to reformat. I was able to send my book from iPad to computer and upload it without any need for formatting. Yeah I was pretty damn pumped.
With that, of course In my personal opinion, Pages is the best writing app for the iPad and I will continue using it for books to come.

Documents to go and Quick office. Two of the bigger off brand apps for writing. Both of them come with versions of Excel and Powerpoint but the Word aspect is what I will touch on. Neither of them are terrible. Both of them have basic features such as spell check and paragraph style. They auto sync to google docs and dropbox, among other cloud services. Which I think is the best feature they offer. Their interfaces are awful, Quick office is a bit better in that department but still bad. They do export in doc. Format but they tend to have errors hidden in them. Big problem.
Among these two apps are plenty of other writing apps, iA writter, Write 2, Free Writing, to name a few. All of them run the risk of formatting errors and their features are basic.

All in all, you want the best tools to create your work. And if like me, you are writing on a iPad. Pages it the way to go. it's 10$ while Documents to Go and Quick office are both more expensive. Granted you are paying for a package of Word, Powerpoint, and Excel. Until Microsoft comes out with a Word app, Pages has just about everything you could want and if you own an iPad, you probably are already partial to Apple products so it's probably your first choice anyway.

Hope you enjoyed my insight.



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