Writing apps: Focus on the word
The writing apps that let you write, without the distraction of unnecessary features
Mention the word “writing” and there is a fair chance that people will think you are speaking either of the omnipresent Microsoft Word software on their computers or the Google Docs cloud-based productivity suite. But for many writers, the features in these apps can be a bit overwhelming. Most of these are never used by regular writers, who worry less about fancy fonts and formatting than about actual writing.
What’s more, with smartphones and tablets also becoming key productivity devices, an increasing amount of writing is being done on phones and tablets. Yes, both Microsoft and Google now also have fairly powerful and capable smartphone apps of their popular word processors, but those who love to write at any time or any place without worrying about having a notebook (digital or paper) handy have a number of apps that are dedicated to just letting them write, with minimum fuss.
So if all you are looking for is a word processing app that lets you sit and compose immaculate prose, be it on a computer, a tablet or a phone, you might want to download one of these.
Rs300 on iOS/free on Android (in-app purchases)/Rs800 on Mac
iOS, Android, MacOS
One of the most minimalistic writing applications out there, iA Writer is designed to let you focus on writing. It doesn’t have as many font and formatting options as you would get in other word-processing applications but iA Writer will offer a largely blank display and let you write on it in peace. It has a spellcheck and a word count and you can import pictures and tables if you like. There is even a focus mode that blurs everything, other than what you are working on, on the display, and you can view adjectives, adverbs and other parts of sentences in different colours if need be. You can also export documents to the MS Word format and view the estimated time it would take to read a document. Simply brilliant for those who write for a living.
Want to see nothing but words on your display? Just head to FocusWriter. The app offers a clear display, with menus tucked away in the corners, where they can be invoked by the click of a mouse. And yes, you can even get typewriter sounds if you want, but this is really a bare-bones writer. There is a spellcheck feature, and word count is available. But do not expect to be able to work in more than text and rich text format.
A neat touch, however, is the ability to set writing targets in terms of word count and time. And just as in iA Writer, you can have the screen blanked out, except for the part you are working on. Focus is the name of the game here.
Yes, this is not an app built for mobile platforms, and it is a bit old-fashioned in terms of features, but it is incredibly clean and simple to use if you want a cleaner and less crowded interface than MS Word or even Google Docs on your Windows PC or notebook. And that too without paying a penny.
It has a word count and character count and lets you change the background and font colours if you wish. If you want, it can even emit old-fashioned typewriter-like sounds every time you hit a key (including a very satisfying chime for the “enter” key). You can only save documents in .txt format and the formatting options are pretty non-existent but, then, this is simply an app for writing.
iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS
You might raise an eyebrow at the inclusion of Evernote in this list—it is, after all, considered to be an app designed mainly for note-taking. That having been said, just look at the plethora of options it offers. You can write away to your heart’s content, insert images, attach files, and even add audio notes and sketches if you wish. No, it is not going to have the sort of editing and formatting options that some specific word processors do, but if all you want to do is write and keep it all synced seamlessly across your devices, Evernote works. You can start writing on a phone, continue on a laptop, and end up scribbling a note on your tablet. This is a powerful tool, and chances are you might end up writing entire articles on it.
Werdsmith also makes writing an easy, clean process not impeded by cluttered interfaces and menus. But unlike the other apps which focus solely on minimalism, it tries to do a little more. The app not only gives you space to key in your thoughts and articles, but also attempts to add an element of organization.
You can classify your work in the form of projects, even showcase it online (on Facebook or Twitter or even as a separate portfolio online using a special tool in the app, which gives you a special URL where your work can be seen). Want more? The app lets you specify a “writing ritual” by setting down a time when you would like to write—and it will remind you when it is time. The writing interface itself is clean and simple but beneath it lurk some powerful tools, including help for novels and screenplay authoring. Some of the features are optional in-app purchases, but even without those, you can get a lot of writing bang for no bucks at all.
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