Do you find yourself wanting to create basic text documents while you’re out and about? You probably carry your phone with you wherever you go, but it’s likely you leave the laptop at home on occasion. But this is no obstacle, since there are more than a few great Android text editors and note-taking apps you can use on your Android phone.
What we’re looking for today is the perfect minimalist full-screen Android text editor. The goal ultimately is to be able to write in a distraction-free environment using an Android phone or tablet. However, when it comes to writing, a phone app’s utility is vastly increased by being able to sync to online storage and applications for other operating systems, browsers and web apps. The app that does both of these things best will be the winner in my eyes, but I will also rank highly anything that excels at being distraction-free. Being able to quickly get to a screen where you can start writing is a boon, too.
Since I’m using an HTC Desire, I also have a need for small Android text editor apps on my phone. Anything that takes up too much space on my phone gets deleted in short order, no matter how awesome it is.
Some of the note-taking apps available are fantastic at quickly allowing you to get writing, so I’ll compare a few of those too. You may also like to read Joel’s comparison of four of the top note-taking apps for Android: SpringPad, Catch, Evernote and OneNote. Of these apps, only Evernote and OneNote are renowned for being minimalist, so we’ll touch on those briefly in order to compare them with the other Android text editor apps I’ve found.
Simple Notepad is surprisingly feature-laden for such a small app. Besides editing text in a simple full-screen view, you can also add photos, use voice input, upload to Google Drive/Evernote/Dropbox, send the note to your calendar, pin it to your notifications bar, turn notes into checklists, make widgets of your notes, add reminders, password protect notes and much more. In the settings, you can choose to open a new note when the app is opened, making it really quick to use. Note that the default lined look is optional. However, for all its features, Simple Notepad is not an app for styling text, so keep that in mind.
Flick Note looks great, but is lacking in features compared to some of the other apps. This is because things like widgets and to-do lists are reserved for the paid version. It does allow text formatting, and it has neat tools like saving to HTML format. Flick Note will sync with simplenote.com but not yet with the big cloud storage providers.
The Google Drive application gives you access to all your Google Documents and lets you create new ones easily. The documents sync to Google online and back to your computers if you have Google Drive installed. It’s quick to start a new document and get writing, plus the interface is beautifully simple. Sadly, the app is enormous. And no, using Google docs through the browser doesn’t compare.
(pronounced iota) is a little simplistic compared to the other apps. However, Jota is quite powerful and geek-friendly, with a lot of emphasis on character codes. This open-source app also has spell-check and voice input apps available to complement it. Upon opening Jota, you’re instantly working with a new document, ready to type. The first time you save each document, you’re faced with a lot of choices, which is good for control freaks but not so much for time-saving.
Writer is by far the smallest of these editing apps at 96K! It’s well-designed, being both simple and stylish using black-and-white. Entering a note is quick, and saving the note is automatic when you quit the note. If you exit the app, your note in progress will re-open. Writer uses a simple markdown notation to format the text. Information such as word count can be found under the “i” button.
Evernote is everything you could possibly want in a note-taking, syncing application. It’s easy to organise, you can record all sorts of thoughts, photos, audio and whatever. It’s sleek and easy-to-use when you’re writing, too. You can get writing pretty quickly using the note button. Where it falls down is that it’s a gigantic app.
OneNote is a beautifully elegant app, which syncs to Skydrive and then your office documents on your desktop. You can get straight into writing and format things nicely as you go. Requires Android 2.3 and up.
Also To Try
There were a number of great looking apps that I didn’t compare in this review (due to incompatibility with my phone mainly), but which may well be worth a closer look: Springpad; ; Write (for tablets only – available for a few dollars); Wordpad (beta); Android Text Editor (costs a few dollars); (review of Lightpaper here); and Draft (costs a few dollars).
Which Minimalist Text Editor Is Best?
So, which of these is best? Well, it depends on what you want (of course). If you’re already a heavy Evernote, OneNote or Google Docs user, and you can spare the space, it may be easier to just use their app directly. If you’re looking for a sleek, small app to do quick notes with a little formatting, choose Writer. It’s tiny and amazingly good at what it does. If you’re looking for note-taking with all the bells and whistles bar formatting, choose Simple Notepad. It’s small, incredibly powerful, has many unexpectedly useful features, yet can be adjusted to suit whatever your style is.
Let us know which text editor you use on Android and why.