Drafts from Agile Tortoise is one of the apps that, on first viewing, seems a little basic. There is no disguising the fact that it is a text editor, and not a particularly fully featured one either. Yet there is something about the app – I use it every day, several times a day.
So for all its basic feature list, Drafts occupies a space that is very useful to have occupied, even though it may not seem that way at first. The whole idea behind the app is that when you need to jot something down quickly, there really is “an app for that.” Drafts certainly isn’t the only app that allows you to do that of course, but it is one of the only ones that goes out its way to make that capture process as simple as possible. There are also some other surprising useful features lurking just below the surface.
So you need to jot down a small piece of information. As soon as you open Drafts you are provided with a screen to do just that.
Type what you need to store, and it will be saved automatically in a draft.
That’s it for the most basic functionality. Type your draft, it gets saved, job done.
So you like Markdown?
Ideas can be slippery. They have the habit of cropping up when you least expect them. Being able to quickly capture the idea is one of the key benefits of Drafts. But what about if you have a couple of minutes spare to do something even more productive? Well, Drafts has support for Markdown so that you can actually begin to write your next web article or blog post using the app:
You can also preview the Markdown, which is a very useful feature. The only problem is, Drafts doesn’t support horizontal mode, so typing can get a bit tiring after a while. But there is no escaping the fact that having full Markdown support and previewing capability in an app like Drafts makes it hard to ignore as a choice for your iPhone text editor.
There are several things you can do after you have created a draft. One of them is the ability to store the draft in your DropBox folder.
You will notice that there is an option there is link your Twitter account(s) too, which I’ll get to in a minute. Being able to connect to DropBox is a really useful feature because it means you can access your files everywhere that you have access to an Internet connection. The files are stored in the Apps folder of your DropBox account, in a sub folder called Drafts.
Another nice feature is the ability to send the content of a draft to another app. For example, you could begin writing a blog post in Drafts and then sent it to iA Writer.
Which continues the idea that the Drafts app is exactly that — an app for creating draft documents.
In the Action Settings option you have the ability to link your Twitter account(s). That means you can create several draft tweets, and when you are ready, send them to your favourite app for tweeting.
You will see that there are two options if like me, you use another app for tweeting. The first option will submit the tweet directly to Twitter without any other intervention required, and the second option will copy the contents of the draft to, in my case, Tweetbot, ready for posting.
Removing a Draft
Your drafts will stay with the app for as long as you leave them there. When you are sure that you are done with them, a tap on the document button, and a swipe across the draft you want to remove will provide you with a delete button. Tap that button and the draft will be deleted.
Other export options
So far we have seen that Drafts lets you export files to other apps, DropBox, and Twitter. It doesn’t stop there though. You can also create drafts for text messages and emails.
Integration with the Terminology App
One of the main benefits of this app is how it provides options to work with other apps and features of your iPhone. One more integration feature that is definitely worthy of mention is the integration provided with the Terminology Ph, also from Agile Tortoise.
Terminology lets you look up a word to find a precise meaning and usage examples. It’s available on the App Store for $2.99. You can set it up to work with Drafts by going into settings/App Links and switching on the option for Drafts integration.
Once you have done that, back in Drafts, highlight a word and use the Te:Lookup option to find out more about the chosen word.
Drafts is one of those apps that appears to be deceptively simple. In essence it is simple; start the app, type some text, close the app again. But actually, Agile Tortoise has gone quite a bit further than that. As such, it makes it quite a difficult app to compare with others.
There are hundreds of text editors in the App Store, and many of them offer DropBox integration. Many also allow for the transfer of content between apps, and into email messages. Yet, Drafts still stands out on its own somehow. Maybe it’s the integration with Twitter, maybe it’s the integration with Terminology, or maybe it’s a combination of all those things. The bottom line is, there is a lot to like with the Drafts app.