Note from Nick: This is a guest post from Hugh Yearsley, a freelance tech writer. Also, since this post is about apps, there are affiliate links throughout. Just sayin’…
Writing on a freelance basis can be fraught with enough problems at the best of times without technology being a barrier, so you need to be on top of the game at all times. Whether you’re at home or on the move, to be as competitive as possible in an increasingly tough market, you need to be able to work on the move, as well as at your home base. More and more writers have added the iPad to their toolkit alongside a smart phone and laptop.
There is a vast array of apps available for the iPad though, so how do you know what the best apps are for the discerning writer? Well, here are the essentials you shouldn’t be without.
The star of the show, and notable for being the first app to be released for the iPad, this is the definitive word processor for Apple’s tablet. Pages pulls no punches when it comes to functionality – all manner of text manipulation and control, images, tables, different fonts are here, but the on-screen layout makes it an absolute joy to use at the same time. Most importantly however for the freelancer, is the Word compatibility for importing and exporting of files, making it a must have for anyone needing to work on submissions on the move.
Even with the best word processor sitting on your iPad, there’s still a need to have a dictionary and thesaurus to hand sometimes. Whenever you’re stuck in mid-thought when writing an article, review or even just a blog post, there’s nothing more satisfying than reaching for the thesaurus, and finding that missing elusive word that has been causing the writer’s block for so long. So this app from Mobile Systems is a potential life-saver for writers everywhere, and as an added bonus, doesn’t need to be online to access the words in its repository so you can dive in when you’re on the go.
There are going to be times when sitting at the keyboard – even an on-screen on – just doesn’t cut it. We’ve all done it at one time or another, found ourselves talking to ourselves and formulating some of our best ideas and most creative thoughts that way, and this is where Nuance Communications’ Dragon Dictation comes in. Based on the technology that has been used for well over a decade in Dragon Naturally Speaking, the app allows you to speak normally into your iPad and once you’ve finished talking, the speech is translated to text on Nuance’s servers, a moment later.
From there the text can be sent as a text message, email, or copied and pasted into another document. The only weakness is that you can’t save text out, and if you close the app without sending it to a text, email or the clipboard, then everything you have dictated is lost but other than that, it’s a fantastic way of getting your thoughts down quickly.
Getting straight to the point, iA Writer forgets the power and features of Pages and focuses on what most writers really want, and that’s to be able to churn out raw text. It’s a no-frills app, but offers its own keyboard with custom navigation keys, iCloud and Dropbox synchronisation, and no on-screen interference from additional features from spell-checkers, toolbars, or any other features – until you, the user, makes the conscious decision to use them. If you need to write something in a hurry, this is going to be your app of choice.
No matter what iPad you own, sooner or later you are going to run out of storage, and this is where Dropbox is going to come into play. As long as you have already signed up for a free online account, you’ll be able to store and retrieve your documents in your online account anywhere, and the capacity from the free account should be more than enough for most writers. Used in conjunction with iCloud and you’ll have ample storage to keep you going as long as your freelance career needs it.
There’s nothing worse than being disorganised when it comes to your writing. Many projects are never written from start to finish in a continuous flow so writers, usually need something to help plan. Whether it’s a large article, series of features, or even just to help you keep track of what you are doing, Evernote is the answer. With the ability to integrate with all your other devices, and to add images and speech to your notes (not to mention the ability to copy and paste information from web pages while still retaining the original page layout) this is a vital tool in the thought-forming process.
If your work is something longer that needs more structure, then you may want to take a look at My Writing Spot. It takes a simple, clutter-free approach in terms of its look, but it’s the layout and what it does that’s key here. What My Writing Spot does is targeted more for those who are writing eBooks, novels or longer pieces of work that are chapter-dependent, but the facility to easily track notes, characters (for novels), and an on-screen word count, make it an essential tool for article and blog writing as well.
Hugh Yearsley contributed this guest post for WhoIsHostingThis.com – visit this web page to read webhost reviews. Hugh is a freelance tech writer and a self confessed iPad extraordinaire. He enjoys writing for numerous tech blogs.