Share Your Writing With Write for Dropbox

I have a huge thing for writing apps. It’s not that I want to write on the iPhone all the time; it’s just that I do. My iPhone is always with me and I’m always writing with it because it’s insanely convenient. And I have a core group of apps I always use to get the job done, but always feel there could be room to grow.

My feature list is admittedly pretty basic: I want great Dropbox support. I like a good font and I don’t need a lot of choice. I want to keep it simple, but that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to complicated functionality presented in simple ways. I just want something that works well and, most importantly, makes me want to write. Write for Dropbox is an app that promises me just that.

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Text Edit

Markdown editors on iOS are a dime a dozen. Write uses Markdown and has a decent little Preview mode as well. It’s also got a handy keyboard tray that provides quick access to some Markdown functionality, a la Byword or iA Writer. That being said, the keyboard functionality goes beyond either of those apps and includes its own cursor ball. Tapping on it and dragging your finger around the screen adjusts the cursor’s position. I love it. It’s much more responsive than iOS’ built-in magnifying glass function, and it helps me get my editing done on my phone faster.

The scroll wheel in the middle of the keyboard tray is an awesome feature.

The scroll wheel in the middle of the keyboard tray is an awesome feature.

The other usual suspects are all present in the app. Quick access to punctuation and formatting make Write as good a text editor as just about any other option, but the market is flooded with those, and Write has to offer something different to stand out in the crowd. Thankfully, Write comes fully loaded with tons of exclusive features of its own.

A Second Keyboard

The app’s most interesting differentiating feature, at least to me, is the ability to use a second iOS device as a wireless keyboard. It requires Write to be installed on both devices and is sort of gimmicky, but I have to admit that I think it’s pretty cool. I’m typing on my iPad right now for this article, for example. Having a larger keyboard is kind of nice, but I have to wonder why those of us with iPads who happen to have one on hand wouldn’t just use Write on it. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very cool feature, but I’m not sure I can see it lasting for me once the novelty wears off.

Setting up a second device as an iOS keyboard requires both of them to be on the same wifi network.

Setting up a second device as an iOS keyboard requires both of them to be on the same wifi network.

The remote keyboard functionality does have one huge flaw right now, which is that it disables autocorrect. I’m pretty quick on my iPad, but only when I don’t have to worry about apostrophes or capitalization. When I have to slow down to hit the shift key, I get thrown off (as I imagine many others do). In this case, I’m a faster typer when I’m on my iPhone. Keeping autocorrect on would make it a much more useful feature for me, and one that takes using an iPad as a keyboard more than a passing curiosity.

The remote keyboard function can also act as a remote clipboard, which I think is a little more useful for reference. It is nice to be able to copy and paste between two iOS devices (that would actually make a cool iCloud feature too). But still, it does feel like a novelty within the app itself.

Bells and Whistles

The app doesn’t just offer a remote keyboard and clipboard function, though. There’s also a million different sharing options for your work. Swiping to the left in a document takes you to the Sharing list, and you can quite literally do just about anything you want with your text. I can email it, send it as as an SMS, add as a reminder, print as plain text or formatted HTML, copy the Dropbox share link, post it to Twitter (usingĀ Tweetbot, since I’ve installed that on my phone), open it in other apps, copy it to Google Drive, save it in Evernote or CloudApp, and even search for it on IMDB. And those are just some of the options I have.

There's more sharing options than most people are ever going to have a use for.

There’s more sharing options than most people are ever going to have a use for.

I can favourite a document for quick and easy access. I can insert images into the document from my phone. If I pull down from the title/navigation bar, I can save or delete my file (which reminds me very much of the old Tweetie refresh that’s become so popular). And if I want to customize additional sharing functionality, that feature is available within the Settings.

Animations like this are very cool touches.

Animations like this are very cool touches.

The thing is, these additional bells and whistles and animations are not make-or-break features for me. In all honesty, I never used them for anything other than review purposes. I’m glad they’re there because I could use them one day and I see their potential and room for growth with continued development of the app, but I never thought I needed this in a writing app before. None of these features get in the way if you don’t need them.

Thankfully, basic features like a simple Preview mode weren't forgotten amidst all the bells and whistles.

Thankfully, basic features like a simple Preview mode weren’t forgotten amidst all the bells and whistles.

Thankfully, there are some features you will use, like font adjustment. You can enable a night mode, which is a smart feature I surprisingly don’t see in many writing apps.

But what I really like about all this extra functionality is that, even if I don’t use it’s unobtrusive. In many ways, Write still looks fairly minimal. It’s not cluttered. It’s just highly customizable. In that sense, the developer has a real accomplishment: smart design that works well without ever becoming too demonstrated.

The Dropbox Issue

There is one huge problem with the app for me, and it’s something I come across all the time. To me, it’s always a fatal flaw. Instead of providing access to the entirety of my Dropbox storage, Write creates its own directory and store files in there. I can’t organize files where they would normally be. For me, this is a huge shame. I write for several sites, and have different folders in Dropbox for each of them. That keeps me sane. Only a few writing apps support full Dropbox functionality, and Write unfortunately isn’t one of them.

Write Your Heart Out

I really like Write, but I don’t think it can replace my favourite text editors yet. That being said, Write is an app that’s under constant development and its features are different than any other text editor out there. It’s minimal, but highly functional.

If it weren’t for the Dropbox flaw, I think I could give Write a higher rating and it would have a good chance of competing with iA Writer for text editing dominance on my iPhone. I love some of the additional features, but some of them seem a little gimmicky. Admittedly, using an iPad as a keyboard is a very cool party trick if you have a lot of writer friends. I the end, I think Write is really intriguing and well worth the money if you’re looking for a text editor with a few fresh twists.


Summary

An app with a lot of potential that offers fresh twists on text editing, but it's not likely enough to take many writers away from their die-hard favourite app solutions.

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