The default writing tool of the iPad is its Notebook. It’s a basic text tool useful for what it is named for. But one of the features most of us writers need is a way to export our documents from the iPad to another computer and word processor. With the iPad’s Notebook you can only export documents via email. A better and faster way is to wirelessly sync your writing between your iPad and an online account, which can then be accessed from any computer.
The free ad-supported iPad app, SimpleNote (iTunes Store link), works well for automatically syncing straight forward text documents between your iPad and your online account. SimpleNote has no tools for formatting text, embedding images, or saving documents in different formats. But wireless syncing capabilities are required in my view for writing production on the iPad, especially since the device lacks a traditional Finder for saving documents beyond apps or even to a USB drive.
For extended writing, Apple offers an iPad version of its desktop application, Pages, which is similar to Microsoft Word. However, Pages comes with a $10 price tag. Although it includes lots of advance features not found in SimpleNote, I believe Page’s wireless syncing feature also comes at a price, for you have to upgrade to the Pages ’09 in order to wirelessly sync documents between the iPad Pages app and Apple’s iWork.com site. Your SimpleNote account, on the other hand, is totally free.
SimpleNote works as a word processor on and offline, and it saves your writing automatically. Once connected, SimpleNote immediately syncs to your online account. You can also type in both portrait and landscape positions.
Another big plus for using SimpleNote is that it actually works with the mobile version of Textexpander (iTunes Store link), the commercial automatic text expansion application. When downloaded on the iPad (or iPhone/iPod touch), Textexpander actually seems to work in the background when you’re typing in SimpleNote – just as you would when using the desktop version of the app. The ability to use Textexpander with SimpleNote is yet another reason, from a productivity perspective, that SimpleNote is in many ways a better option than Apple”˜s Pages.
Also, the online syncing feature of SimpleNote means that your documents will sync to your iPhone or iPod touch. While you might not want to do heavy duty typing on the iPhone, you will be able to read your documents and perform simple edits which will get synced back to your online account.
You can get a premium SimpleNote account for $8.50 per year that includes disabling ads, frequent automatic backup and the ability to set up an RSS feed for your documents. However, the free basic features are sufficient for your regular writing needs.
If you’re an iPad user, let us know which word processing tools you use, and the features you would like to see added to the iPad for getting writing done on the device.