Word Processing Mobile Apps: A Review Of Three Of Them

So here’s where I admit I’m probably a little nuts. Because I am. For a lot of good (and perhaps a few not so good) reasons. But the reason I’m focusing on at moment is how I wrote the first draft of the book I just finished.

You see, I wrote a good 75% of it on my phone.

I have tired thumbs.

The thing about phones these days is that they’re handheld computers. My iPhone is a web browsing, word processing, relationship maintaining, gaming console. It’s everything you might find in a 1990 Radio Shack ad. Like, everything. In a 3×5 sliver of glass and metal.

Because phones are obviously so portable and these days so powerful, I was able to fill any little nook and cranny of spare time I had using my phone as my pen. Waiting in a long line? Write some. Stuck in the passenger seat on a long car ride? Write some. In a darkened room waiting for a child to fall asleep? Write some.

Seriously, with a phone and a word processing app, you can literally write anywhere, anytime.

With that said, I tried three different writing apps for iPhone. Bearing in mind I haven’t tested every single function each had to offer, and may be therefore missing something cool, here’s my rundown of each:

  • Evernote – This was the first app I used, back when I had a Droid phone. It’s gone through a number of updates since then. It has a clean interface and pretty seamless web component. You can also down the add-in part for programs like Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, and the add-in helps you clip things you like or feel you need to keep for later. My primary problem with Evernote is that the “notes” are captured and displayed in HTML (hypertext markup language, the primary language of displaying content on the web). This makes it difficult to edit your work due to the fact that the formatting is guided by what your browser needs to see, rather how you would like to see it. At its heart, it’s a note-capturing, web-clipping program, and not a word processing app.
  • Quip – I hadn’t heard about this one until late last year. I downloaded it and tried it and it was nice, fairly streamlined, clean user interface. That’s for the mobile app. Like Evernote (and Google Drive, coming up below), you can access your work online. That when this one lost me.I found the online UI was clunky and hard to work with. Try to edit a paragraph and you are essentially clicking into a text box version of your paragraph to edit. The online version has a nice feature that tracks what you’ve edited and keeps it off to the side. But like Evernote, it approaches the text as content to be formatted for HTML. Because of the lack of word processing capabilities (first paragraph indentation, for example) and because I was looking for a seamless transition between phone and browser, this app left me wanting.
  • Google Drive – Does anybody know anybody who uses Google Drive (formerly Google Docs)? Actually, I do know a few. I’ve done some work for a company who used to keep their P&L on a Google spreadsheet. Is it Excel? No, not even close. Is passable for what you need? Sure, if you need basic spreadsheet stuff. Same holds true for the word processor. Is it going to replace Microsoft Word? Not a chance. Is it a good alternative if you want to keep your stuff in the cloud? You betcha. I just wanted to find something that would work like a word processor online. This ended up being the one. Does it have it’s drawbacks? Of course. Fully opening a long document for edit takes a long time as Google Drive retrieves all of that information. Full word processing capabilities are available on the web only and not in the mobile app. But is this the one I ultimately chose to write my book in? Sure was. And it’s ready availability helped me keep my book on the front burner and finish it.

This is just my experience with mobile word processors with a companion web component. Google Drive seems to me to be the one to beat. My two cents. Probably worth half a penny, but there you are.

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