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'Writer' for iPad Review: App Aims to Keep You Focused

writer app for ipadYesterday, the Information Architects (iA) team, which you may know from its Web Trend Map, officially released the 'Wrıter' app for iPad. We've seen many attempts at moving writing interfaces away from the toolbar-overloaded interfaces of apps like Microsoft Word, and iA's new project continues this trend with an emphasis on your writing. We fired up the app to write this review, so read on to see how it holds up.

'Writer' is even more stripped down than apps like 'Simplenote' or 'WriteRoom,' as it drops text-formatting, tagging and any version history of your changes. Everything is designed to keep you focused on writing, to the point where customization addicts will probably get frustrated. You can't change text size, can't invert colors for white text on a black background, and definitely can't adjust styling. For many, though, this will be an effective push to simply write. You can e-mail your documents to edit or format later, and Dropbox syncing also lets you save and access your files from the cloud, cutting out the trouble of transferring files via iTunes.

A Better iPad Keyboard

The first huge improvement over other iPad writing apps is the new row of Keyboard Extensions placed above the traditional iPad keyboard. The "|word and word|" and arrow keys let you move quickly and accurately through text, saving you from the often clunky practice of moving your cursor by tapping text on the iPad. Similarly, the period, hyphen, semicolon and quotation marks are easily accessible in the new row.


The app's Focus Mode recreates the stripped-down experience of writing by hand or on a typewriter; all but three lines of text are grayed out, and you lose auto-correct, spell check and other such "distractions" of modern writing tools. iA writes, "The idea is to activate it when you get stuck, blinding out everything else." It may sound like a step back, but if you've ever spent an hour adjusting spacing in Word or finessing your header formatting, you'll understand how a limited set of "features" helps you focus on your writing (or your crippling writer's block). The handy Reading Time marker approximates reading length depending on where your cursor is. It's a small feature, but a helpful reminder.


'Writer' clearly isn't an app for those looking to tap out tweets and quick blog posts. Rather, it offers relief from the din of the modern computing experience. In this case, the iPad's lack of multitasking is a strength, as you're not being interrupted by incoming e-mails, tweets and news updates. Even with iA's keyboard improvements, the iPad still isn't the easiest thing to type on, and we'd advise a Bluetooth keyboard for a better typing experience. Writer is the most elegantly crafted writing app we've seen yet on any platform, and it's well worth a download.

Available on iPad: $4.99

iA Writer App

Tags: features, ia, information architects, InformationArchitects, ios, ipad, productivity, reviews, top, writer, writer app, WriterApp, writing