twenty-two // i tested 4 mobile writing apps so you don’t have to

twenty-two // i tested 4 mobile writing apps so you don’t have to

Over the past few weeks I’ve realized just how far behind I am with my novel’s schedule, and that in order to pick up the pace, I may need to make my writing mobile. Typically, I hate writing on my phone. It’s difficult to type with that tiny (ultra-sensitive) keyboard and formatting is a nightmare. (Seriously, just trying to create a new paragraph with my memo app drives me nuts.) But, since I’ve noticed I spend the first good half of my editing sessions fixing tiny grammar flaws or trying out phrasing I jotted down the day before, I figured having my manuscript on my phone would allow me to make those little changes the instant I think of them and save my full sessions for overhauling my novel.

That being said, in this test I did consider what it might be like to write full-time with these apps, and used all of them as I might a writing app on a computer (spoiler alert: full-length drafting on your phone is never ideal, but some apps facilitate it better than others). So without further ado, here are four mobile writing apps I tested so you don’t have to.

Google Docs

To be fair, I’m partial to Google Docs because it’s the writing tool I ordinarily use. That being said, it is probably my number one pick out of these apps because of it’s simplicity and ease of use. But onto the pros and cons.

Pros 

  • Simple, no-frills writing app
  • Reading and editing modes
  • Documents are stored in a cloud so you can access them on any device
  • You can add “suggestions” or notes throughout the document if you’d like to return to a specific area later
  • Stores several documents and has the ability to create folders (I like to make separate folders for each of my novels so that my draft files stay organized)
  • Documents are easy to share or export
  • Find and replace, word count, undo / redo, and autosave features
  • Available on all devices

Cons

  • Minimal formatting and outlining which can be problematic for drafting
  • Documents read as a continuous page of text, so it can be difficult to find your way around

JotterPad

JotterPad is a close second because of its clean typing interface, built-in features, and the ability to connect to Google Drive. However, there are two major flaws: 1) the basic version of the app only recognizes Plain Text files, which forced me to convert my Google Docs in order to edit them, and 2) the app is only available for Android.

Pros

  • Simplistic and easy to use interface
  • Word count at the top of the page, so you can see your progress in real time!
  • Stores multiple documents or folders so all of your projects are at your fingertips
  • Ability to connect to Drive or other cloud services
  • Reading and editing modes
  • Built in dictionary for research
  • Undo / redo and word find features
  • Extended keyboard available

Cons 

  • Some features, such as the built-in thesaurus and rhyming dictionary, are only available with the Pro version
  • Connecting to Drive proved more complicated than expected
  • Only available for Android devices

iA Writer

iA Writer is a simple writing app meant to facilitate easy and distraction-free writing. With minimal formatting, a clean interface, and a “focus” mode, the app does just that. While it’s able to connect to the cloud and is available on all devices, the app felt almost unfinished, with some missing features and odd tutorials that greet you as walls of text upon opening the app.

Pros

  • Simple and easy writing app
  • Focus mode clears the interface of any distractions to keep you in the zone
  • Formatting options such as heading and lists
  • Ability to connect to Drive and other cloud services
  • Undo / redo, word count, and word search features
  • Preview, Focus, and Night modes
  • Ability to export into several different file formats and collaborate online
  • Folder organization
  • Available on all devices

Cons

  • Weird tutorials
  • Typography options are not easy to read
  • Must convert Google Docs files in order to connect through Drive
  • Not necessarily the most common sense app in terms of navigation

Novelist

Novelist is a neat little app because it allows you to plot, write, and organize your novel (you can even set a cover!) by breaking your novel into its parts. You can easily build and move scenes around to test different novel arrangements, or create sections to build a thorough, plot-hole-proof (sort of) outline. Although it’s great for keeping your writing thoughts organized and tidy, I found the app tedious to use and overall distracting, as I never got any real writing done. And, once again, it’s only available for Android.

Pros

  • Lots of formatting and outlining capabilities, making it a great tool for novel planning
  • Plenty of neat features, such as scheduling writing sessions; a timer and word counter; character, location, events and theme compilers; scene and section builders
  • Undo / redo, autosave, word search, and reading / editing modes
  • Ability to organize projects by genre
  • Ability to save documents onto device, set up automated backup onto device, and create novel templates

Cons

  • Extremely overwhelming, especially if you aren’t typically a formatter
  • Tedious to use, as every item requires a title and description before you can actually write anything (which caused the app to be very distracting for me because I became more concerned with labeling everything correctly and nailing the organization rather than working on my novel)
  • Cannot connect to any cloud service, nor can you upload documents to edit
  • Available only for Android

The bottom line here is that writing a novel on your phone is just not a good idea, but if you want to be able to store your ideas, notes, and thoughts in one app, there are plenty to choose from depending on your wants and needs. I’ll try anything to keep me motivated and working toward my writing goals! Happy writing!

/// E.S.T.

NOW TELL ME // Do you ever use mobile apps for writing? Which one is your favorite? Let me know below!

photo by: Benjaminrobyn Jespersen

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