I’ve had some form of writing app installed on my mac or iPad pretty much forever (which isn’t as long for the iPad of course). Whether that was Word, Scrivener, Ulysses, copywrite, Storyist, Pages, or any other app that someone released to ‘revolutionize writing.’ Back when I was first working at Spire Digital I had an old white MacBook that I used for an online writing class I was taking, and worked on various short stories.
I’ve Always had an eye out for the latest and greatest but also the most useful. Finding something that fits isn’t easy.
For me, the big things are these; ease of use, portability, reliability.
Easy of Use
It’s all too common for app developers to start throwing feature after feature into an app. “Hey what if it also had a todo list?” Those are great, I have an app for that, and don’t want it in my writing app. You get my point here, more isn’t better and so many apps get bogged down in features, just sitting down to write is a chore. Scrivener teeters on the edge of this. It’s feature packed but only takes 2 clicks to start a writing project.
This is a big one for me. When I travel I have some combination of Mac and iPad. Rarely do I not travel without my iPad, but sometimes I do travel without my laptop. My most recent trip to Munich was laptop free. Not to mention short trips around town when I just grab my iPad and go. That being the case, being able to use whichever device is closest to me to write, is a big deal. I intentionally left my iPhone out of the mix because I’m not a sadist.
Being able to open my iPad and have my writing projects update from the cloud is awesome. I can open Scrivener and get to work right away. I can load Dabble in my browser (or the app on mac) and see what I need to know for my next chapter or scene.
‘Space Rogues‘ during NaNoWriMo was written at home on the couch on my Mac and in coffee shops on my iPad.
This one is a bit vague, but for me, it’s two things; app updates and general not-crashyness. Has your app been updated in the last 6 months? Have you released a new major version? While I’d love super-frequent updates, I understand that’s not really feasible for most developers. But if you haven’t updated your app in a year? Two years? That doesn’t make me want to give your app my time, or you my money. In looking back to make the list of apps at the top, one of them likely hasn’t been updated in 10-15 years. It’s minimum required OS is Mac OS 10.3, released in 2003. It’s still available for download and sale.
Not crashing is kind of a big deal. Whether that’s full-on App crash or (to me even worse) backend stuff going bonkers like sync, it’s no bueno. If I can’t trust your app one hundred percent with my work, I can’t trust it at all. It comes down to “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” I’ve lost writing before to crashes that happen before an auto-save, or to sync conflicts, and that’s too maddening to deal with.
Are you a writer? What do you use? Love? What app can you not live with?