Both the iPhone and iPad can be great tools for writers, with both offering different experiences and capabilities. With the iPhone, you can write something no matter where you are, whether it's in line for coffee or just getting a quick though down at your desk. With the iPad, you can enjoy wider screen real estate, but with the single-app focus that keeps you from getting distracted.
There are a wide variety of apps available for writers who want to work on their iOS devices, from simple text editors to full-featured writing suites. It doesn't matter if you're taking notes, writing articles, or working your way to writing the great American novel, there's an app for that on your iOS device.
1Writer supports export in plain text, HTML, and PDF, and you can also add your document to Evernote using the built-in integration with the note-taking service.
Let's get this out of the way up front: yes, Ulysses has recently moved to a subscription model. You're either fine with that or you're not, and if you're not, this list is full of great options if you're looking to make a switch.
Ulysses offers a full array of tools for writers of any kind. This app is easy to pick up and start using, but offers a wide array of customization options for everything from writing to exporting. Choose to work in Markdown or create your own markup style. While the app for iPhone and iPad doesn't present the same visual customization options as those found on the Mac, it can still take advantage of those features, and you can download new themes in the Ulysses Style Exchanger to use on any device. When it comes time to publish, you can export your work in a variety of formats, including plain text, DOCX, and ePub. You can also publish your work to WordPress sites and Medium.
Your projects all sync with iCloud between Mac, iPhone, and iPad, with Dropbox support also available.
iA Writer puts an emphasis on simplicity, making it a simple matter to get started writing in plain text. That's not to say that there aren't advanced features, however, as there are quite a few. Syntax Control breaks down your writing to show you the structure, highlighting adjectives, nouns, conjunctions, and more. iA Writer's Focus Mode lets you focus on one line at a time to keep you from getting distracted. By default, the app's keyboard bar offers several useful controls, like buttons for one-tap list creation, but you can customize that bar to fit how you work. Link to other documents in iA Writer to combine them into a single projects, or link to images or spreadsheet files to see them in iA Writer's Preview screen in a number of different templates.
Like other apps on this list, iA Writer lets you publish to blogs, in this case WordPress and Medium. You can also export your work in Markdown, PDF, HTML, and Microsoft Word.
Scrivener brings all of your writing tools into a single app, whether you're organizing research notes for a paper or scene outlines for a script. The app supports writing all sorts of long-form documents, offers a number of granular formatting options no matter what you're working on. Make a plan and organize your ideas on digital notecards and lay them out on the app's corkboard to see how your work fits together. Import images, PDF and other media you've used as research to refer to it later, even bringing it in side-by-side with your text so your can quickly refer to your research while you're writing. Keep your work segmented for easier organization and editing, and easily reorder your work so it all fits together in the best way possible.
When you're done, compile your project into a single document, and export in formats like DOCX, rich text, PDF, and Final Draft. Thanks to syncing with Dropbox, you can share your work between Scrivener for iPhone and iPad and its big brother for Mac.
A relative newcomer compared to the rest of the list, Bear might seem simple, but it offers a great deal of flexibility for handling text. It's true that Bear is good for both notes and todo checklists, but it's support for Markdown, variety of themes, and simple organization make it a great tool for many different kinds of writing. Add images, files, code blocks, and more to spice up your work and give it more context.
In terms of options, you've got few. Choose how to sort your documents, pick a theme, pick your font, and even control fine-grain details such as font size, line height and width, and paragraph spacing. If you'd like to sync your work between Bear on your iOS devices and Bear for Mac, you can purchase a $1.49 per month subscription to Bear Pro.
Apple's own writing app, Pages lets you create all sorts of documents. There are more than 60 templates in Pages, covering just about every kind of writing, from short essays to research papers. There are even templates for items like business cards and flyers. You can add images and shapes, lay out your documents in different styles, and more. You can also open password-protected documents using Touch ID on your iPhone or iPad.
Pages also makes it easy to collaborate with other people. Multiple people, whether they're on iOS, macOS, or even Windows thanks to iCloud.com, can collaborate on a document at the same time. You can share collaborative documents publicly or with specific users, see who is in the document at any given time, and follow their cursors as they edit the project.
While Terminology isn't, strictly speaking, an app in which you write, it's the kind of app that can prove itself essential to any writer. Terminology offers a combined dictionary and thesaurus, but it can also be much more than that. The word lookup functions, which are available both on and offline, let you mark favorites, lookup synonyms, antonyms, and more. But Terminology, developed by Agile Tortoise, also supports a wide set of custom actions that can turn the app into a powerful research companion through its integration with other apps and the web.
Terminology also features a share extension so that you can highlight text in any app and look it up in Terminology right from the share sheet. The app keeps your history, favorite words, and actions all backed up and in sync between devices with iCloud.
These are what we consider the best writing apps for iPhone and iPad, but what are your favorites? Let us know in the comments.
There’s (almost) an app for everything nowadays, and this can make student life easier, cheaper, safer and more fun. Whether you want help with taking notes, revising, waking up on time or keeping fit, read on for our pick of the apps for students…
1. Lecture capture apps
Just a few years ago, students attending lectures would have to spend the entire time scribbling wildly on notepads, in order not to miss any vital bit of information. Then along came technology, and now, lecture capture apps are a reality. Although the recording of lectures has been common practice within universities for a while, lecture capture apps allow you to record and listen back to classes without having to spend extra money on expensive recording equipment.
SoundNote (iOS) is a popular lecture capture app for iPad users, acting as a notepad and audio recorder, so you can store an entire lecture in both visual and audio form. If it's a whiteboard you want to capture, however, Office Lens allows users to photograph a whiteboard, convert it to a PDF, Word or PowerPoint file and store all the data via OneNote or OneDrive for catch-up and revision purposes.
Other than SoundNote, one of the most popular lecture capture apps – keeping it simple with the name – is Lecture Capture (iOS), but Notes Plus (iOS) and Audio Memos Free – The Voice Recorder (iOS) are also of good quality.
2. Revision apps
The revision app is in big business this century, and it seems technology has achieved what we never thought possible: making revision fun.
If you’re a flash card fanatic you might like to consider StudyBlue, a student app which uses your course information to create a selection of card sets for related revision. You can also make their own flashcards and test yourself.
Another useful revision app is GoConqr, which offers resources to create revision charts, mind maps, flash cards, notes and quizzes, as well as the ability to connect and collaborate with friends, classmates or students from around the world. Another choice is the aptly named Revision App (iOS), covering all education levels, while Exam Countdown (iOS) keeps track of the days until each of your exams.
3. Exam prep apps
There are also student apps now available for exams such as the MCAT, GMAT, LSAT and GRE tests, which are used by many graduate schools as part of the admissions process. BenchPrep uses social networking-style functionality which allows users to connect with other test-takers and peruse revision materials with quizzes, notes and more. You can also use the app to track your learning progress.
TCY Exam Prep (Android) is another exam prep app, aimed at business students in India and the US. It features study resources for MBA/CAT tests, GRE, GATE and bank exams.
You can get tips on how to prepare for your exams here.
4. Student planner apps
Organization is key for success and wellbeing at university, and student planner apps are becoming increasingly popular. As well as saving on paper, many student planner apps also send reminders and alerts straight to your phone or device.
Popular student planner apps include Timetable (Android), an app featuring a sharp and clean interface which you can map your timetable onto with ease. For more familiar-looking planner apps for students, consider those with a more traditional spreadsheet-style layout, such as My Class Schedule (Android) or Class Timetable (iOS).
5. Bibliography helper apps
If you’ve ever spent hours writing up a hefty bibliography, you’ll know just how much work goes into making sure you’ve included all the information in the right places in the right format. EasyBib is an extremely useful app for students, which creates an academic reference for any book simply from a scan of the book’s barcode. As bibliography styles vary depending on where you study, EasyBib offers referencing in MLA, APA and Chicago styles. Simply take a picture of the barcode or type the title of the book into your device, et voila, professional referencing done!
6. Video call apps
Most students will be aware of video calling software such as Skype and FaceTime by now, and this technology is becoming even more easy-access as computer companies integrate quality cameras into their products and internet connection speeds get faster. As the overall technology improves, so too do the versions available on smaller devices. Using FaceTime on an iPhone has become as easy as making a call, while Skyping on a tablet makes it brilliantly possible to cook dinner/browse the web/compose a text while talking to your parents back home. Other video call apps include Fring and Tango.
For tips on how to conduct a successful Skype interview (for a job, internship or admissions interview), check out this blog post.
7. Student safety apps
A number of apps for students have been developed promoting personal safety, for use both on- and off-campus. These student apps help to keep users safe if out alone at night. The Circle of Six app works on both Android and iOS, and was designed for university students to keep connected with close friends. The app is particularly useful for locating lost friends on nights out and also allows users to send their circle of six friends an instant call for help at the touch of a button. The GPS tracker will mark your location on your friends’ devices, ensuring you’ll always be able to find one another if necessary.
Other student apps to promote safety include bSafe, Bugle, React Mobile and GuardianSentral (iOS), which is an on-campus guardian app being road-tested at select institutions.
You can read about more student health and safety apps here.
8. Wake-up apps
If you happen to be a persistent snoozer who always wakes up about 20 minutes too late for lectures, then Alarmy: Sleep If You Can is the app for you. Alarmy is an alarm app for students which requires users to complete small tasks (such as taking a photo of something specific or shaking the phone up and down a number of times) before the alarm turns itself off. Not only will this mean you’re alert and raring to go, Alarmy will also give you the latest weather update so you can decide whether to arm yourself with an umbrella before leaving home.
Meanwhile Sleep Cycle aims to correct its users’ sleeping pattern by waking them up during their lightest sleep phase. The app does this by monitoring both movement and the time the user went to sleep. This means you should wake up feeling less groggy in the mornings, and you might also get an extra 10 minutes of breakfast time.
Read about how to manage your time effectively here.
9. Responsible-drinking apps
You may be a student, but that doesn’t have to mean becoming irresponsible when it comes to alcohol. The responsible-drinking app WiseDrinking charts how much you’ve been drinking, gives you suggestions about how much is safe, lets you know the optimum time to call a cab, and maps your location in relation to public transport services.
Using inputs of gender, weight and height, the app calculates blood alcohol content (BAC) levels by calculating the amount, type and timing of alcohol consumed and when the user’s last meal was. Although the app is entirely dependent on user input and therefore should only be used as a guideline, WiseDrinking can help you to stay aware of your consumption and give you guidance should you feel a little worse for wear.
If you want something a little more scientifically concrete, then you might consider investing in Alcohoot, a smart breathalyzer that attaches to your smartphone and tells you when you’re edging over the sensible limit.
10. Fun fitness apps
For those who would normally find running boring, the app Zombies, Run! is a fun (and funny) way to motivate yourself when jogging. The app plays your own music playlists alongside recorded audio depicting a zombie apocalypse, in which you must run from the infected. More than a little terrifying, yes, but as a super-intense workout it’s hard to beat!
If you’d like to keep your fitness routine zombie-free, other fitness apps include Nike Training Club (iOS), Sworkit, Moves, Fitbit (iOS), JeFit, RunKeeper, Strava, 7 Minute Workout and MapMyFitness. If you decide to get them all, Nudge is another app that collates all your fitness data and stores it in one place. This means you can keep track of your nutrition, exercise, hydration and sleep, without checking the progress reports from each app.
11. Healthy eating apps
If you’re keen to eat healthily while keeping to a student budget, consider downloading a few healthy eating apps. Examples I’ve come across which are perfect apps for students include Rockin Ramen (iOS), a student app featuring a number of nutritious recipes with ramen as a main ingredient, and MealBoard (iOS), an app which plans healthy meals, grocery shops and recipes based on what you’ve got in the fridge. You can read about what brain food you should eat while revising here.
Other helpful student apps
- Oxford English Dictionary – to look up words on the go (free with adverts, or paid with no ads).
- Dictionary.com Dictionary & Thesaurus – dictionary and word-finder for those on a budget; also works offline.
- Dropbox for mobile – access and edit documents, upload photos and play your own videos anywhere.
- Penultimate – a handwriting app made by EverNote, allowing users to write with a digital pen and upload the work to any device.
- Skout – a friend-finder app helping students meet new people in their locality.
- Socrative – student app for quizzing and assessment.
This blog post was originally published in September 2014. It was updated in October 2016.
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