iPad’s Writing Kit

Tim Maly has a sketch of a new iPad app, and I wonder if anyone here is using it. Any reports?

Confession: I use an iPad and I carry it in a ClamCase — and I love it though I think the space bar on the keyboard is not as smooth as it could be. When I write on the iPad, which I occasionally do on an airplane, I use Notes. It works as a seamless conversion to MSWord.docx. But, I wonder about this app.

One of the core features and frustrations of Apple’s iPad experience is that you can only use one app at a time. Joanne McNeil once lauded the iPad’s lack of multi-tasking, saying that it was a focus machine. “It’s putting a constraint on me … and my worst multi-tabbing, unfocused habits.” iOS 4 has since introduced multi-tasking, but that’s in the form of allowing apps to stay resident in memory. You can still only look at one thing at a time. This can be a real benefit, but it gets problematic if you are working on a single task that requires more than one tool. EnterWriting Kit by developer Anh Quang Do.

Most iPad writing apps like WriteRoomiA Writer or Daedalus Touch focus on doing one thing well. Often their big selling point is that they are a “distraction-free writing environment,” meaning the only thing you can really do on them is type text into a file. If you write like I do–which is to say: in a constant flow between checking notes, looking things up and typing–none of these work for completing drafts.


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  • Kyle J

    I do like the fact that when I’m looking at the iPad screen, I only see the app that’s up–no blinking notifications of e-mails/etc. Easy enough to switch apps when needed, but it is a much more focused medium than a laptop or cell phone. Great for reading magazines.

    Not ideal for blogging, though. Will have to check out this app.

  • I use it, Scot. It isn’t really new, but an update just came out today. It works well, especially for researching on the web and writing at the same time. It is my go to app for writing longer form on the iPad.

  • Josh Rhone


    I’ve used this app for a little while. The good is that it is simple and relatively easy to use. Exporting to email or a blogging platform is relatively easy as well. Although I’ve used the in-app research tools on occasion, far more often I end up toggling between Safari and/or Evernote and the Writing Kit app.

  • Scot, I’ll have to look into this app a bit more (not sure I understand how it is helpful for this problem yet). However, I recently found an app called “Side by Side” which allows you to split the screen into panels (in multiple, adjustable ways) and then each panel can be a browser, notes, or a file.

  • Robert A

    I’ve been using Evernote for my research work over the past 6 months (now that I have an iPad2.) It is great. I generally work between Evernote, Pages, and NotesPlus. I recently picked up a Jot Pro stylus and use that for take quick notes while in the library or reading. I can bring all those together in Pages for general content work.

    Of course the difficulty for me (in writing technical/scholarly papers) is that Pages on the iPad is very limited. So I export to my laptop and bring it together in Word with Endnote.

    This application look okay but probably something I wouldn’t be using right now. I’ve got a pretty good system and am not planning on changing anytime soon. One thing that might change things is if I change my writing software from Word to Scrivener. Not certain on that one yet.

    I do like, very much, that the iPad is a confined environment that doesn’t bring in flash buttons or jumping icons when something (usually less urgent) else desires my attention.

  • (5.) Robert A. (& Scot!),
    I use Scrivener. For just about everything written up to the final draft. I just spotted on their web site that an iPad app is still in development. Scrivener is both easy to use and get started, but has some depth that I won’t be swimming in for lack of time to learn there. Having said that: it’s pretty flexible in ways that are true to Mac, and I like that…

  • So glad you posted this, Scot. Just purchased an iPad, 6 weeks ago, and am trying to navigate my way through the available apps. This is helpful.

  • Jon Snyder

    I use writing kit for some of my writing. Specifically, it works great for medium length articles written I markdown syntax (basically a very readable language for exporting to HTML).

    However, I believe phraseology is the best writing app on the iPad for actual quality writing. It has built in reports of overused words, types of words, some estimated reading times, markdown support, a prettier interface, and soon will have syncing support. It also works flawlessly with the same developer’s dictionary app ‘terminology’ for quick replacement and thesaurus support.

    If I am writin something and don’t want distractions, I use IAwriter, which has great iCloud support with th desktop app, and the best interface of any writing app in my opinion.

    Finally, for simple note taking I use either writing kit or notesy, which work well together when using Dropbox for file storage. For serious writing with serious writers tools, give phraseology a try.

  • Jon Snyder

    A also, any app worth it’s salt should have some form of plain text export, especially via dropbox for flawless syncing with any computer OS. Dropbox support also allows one to use multiple writing apps on the same documents.

    I do enjoy writing kit’s extended keyboard.

  • discokvn

    ok folks, so why is pages not being mentioned more? maybe i’m a bit in the dark here, but i’ve found pages to be good for writing… why these and not that?

  • Jon

    @discokvn #10,

    Pages is fine if you need page layout, but for a more nimble, easier sync these other apps work better because they keep the information in a non-proprietary format that can be read by any electronic device.

    Also, Pages is a bear for syncronizing the same file. it’s way too easy to get multiple versions of the document, and confusing them if you use both the desktop and ios versions. Until Pages for desktop gets icloud support, I will be sticking with other editors. I use pages for editing documents that already have formatting, it becomes a page layout/editting app rather than a writing one.