Review: The iA Writer iPad App

By Alan Hammond

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Renaming a document is easy with iA Writer

If you’re waiting for the iPad 2 release before buying an iPad, it’s never too early to begin looking for great apps. iA Writer from Information Architects, Inc. (the “iA”) falls into that category.

Portable Email Productivity

Everyone can use some help with composing and sending email. If a quick-burst, two line email is what you typically require, then the $.99 iA Writer app won’t help much. Honestly, it will be just as easy to compose and send from the normal email program.

On the other hand, if you require a longer composition, iA Writer is a fabulous choice. Type your message, highlight the text, tap the folder icon in the header bar and choose where you want the text to go.

For the Writer

If you’re a writer, and if you’re like me, simplicity in an interface is the name of the game. Multiple clicks, mouse maneuvering, and drilling down in order to save or name a document is maddening. An iPad app that keeps me from leaving the page is awesome. I suppose I’m saying that I’m easily distracted. That being the case, iA Writer is the antidote to my attention deficit.

Essentially all the user sees on-screen is text and keyboard (unless you’re using an external keyboard, like me). There’s nothing else there to distract me. At the risk of sounding prima donna-like (which I’m totally not), it’s heavenly. There’s even a feature, Focus Mode, that removes the header and fades all text except the last three lines where I’m writing.

To name a document, simply tap the default name on the header bar and type your custom name. No need to save, because the app auto-saves every two, yes, two seconds. I’ve tried to disprove that claim, but to no avail. Even Apple’s own Pages can’t come close to that feature.

As for getting your work to where it needs to go, you can choose from a couple of methods. Either cut and paste as I described above, or use the Dropbox integration, which is the simpler of the two. I found the Dropbox method to be easy.

Linking to your Dropbox account is self-explanatory and syncing was just as easy. The only drawback, if you can call it that, was the inability to choose which files to synch. Each time you synch, you synch every file on the iPad. Using the app for any length of time will inevitably result in slower synching due to the increase in the number of files you create. You’ll eventually have to delete some files from your iPad.

Other iA Writer Features

There are other features of the app, but they don’t significantly detract from its simplicity or the productivity it creates. The reading time for a document is displayed in the header bar. Position your cursor at any spot in the document and an approximate reading time from the beginning to that point is displayed in the margin. These features are particularly useful when writing for the web.

The iPad feature of running multiple programs, and accessing them by double-tapping the start button, adds to the effectiveness of iA Writer and iPad. The ability to leave a document and the app without closing, view/use another app, and come back without closing and restarting anything is a time-saver.

The combination of iA Writer’s features and the iPad’s ease of use make the two a perfect productivity couple.

Image courtesy Information Architects, Inc.

About Alan Hammond
Alan is a freelancer writer and small business consultant. His writing has magically appeared in many places, but principally within the golfing realm. He's also a believer in the potential and future of the iPad. You can find him easily, but give twitter a try first, @AlanLHammond.

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