My New iPad

Photo by Sean MacEntee

I’ve been hankering after a new solution for writing on the go for a long time. So last week, after much thought and saving, I purchased an iPad. Since this is my first foray into the tablet world, and I know the iPads are very popular, I thought I would share what I hoped to accomplish, and the first round of software.

What I Hope It Does

My reason for purchasing a tablet is that I often get writing in at odd moments: during lunch, waiting during piano lessons, ideas after lights out. My main computer, a laptop, is too bulky to be hauling around everywhere. So I was using my daughter’s Dell Mini.

The Dell Mini is a great little computer. It’s small, lightweight and fast to boot up. Unfortunately, the keyboard is slightly off – the up arrow is where a touch typist reaches for the shift key. So using the computer meant that I had to carry an external keyboard with me. The battery life was also not great, and I could get about two hours of work out of it before I had to recharge.

So the main things I was looking for were:

  • Light
  • Fast start up
  • A usable keyboard
  • Good battery life

What I Have Found

The iPad met those expectations. Why not a cheaper tablet? I had thought about that for a while, and the software that I already own for the iPod Touch will for the most part, be transportable to the iPad. Rather than having to buy a whole bunch of new software, I wanted to use what I had, and have it sync to the iPod touch.

The iPad is very fast to start up, has great battery life and the on-screen keyboard is large enough that I can touch type on it as long as I remember to pick my fingers up after the keystrokes.

Initial Apps

First and foremost, the iPad is meant to be a writing device. There were some apps that I used on the iPod touch that were critical to the types of writing I do (both blogging and novel writing).

The initial apps that transferred over were Use Your Handwriting Gold (good for quick notes), Remember the Milk (I have to have a cow!), Kypass (password manager), Awesome Note, Ambiance (for distraction-free writing) and Gmail.

What I Was Looking For

I wanted applications that would make it easy for me to produce the pseduo-HTML that I use to write the blog articles. I find it easier to write the markup as I am writing the text, so I wanted something to support that.

Since I was writing in Notestudio and using Breevy to do shortcuts to insert the markup, I wanted something that would provide the same sort of functionality, with the added bonus of being able to store it in the cloud so I could get to it everywhere.

What I Evaluated

First out of the gate was an exciting application called Index Card. It syncs with my Scrivener application! Yay! Except I forgot to read the small print – it syncs with Scrivener for Mac. That one is sitting on the device, mocking me.

Next up I looked at Daedelus, which has some great features including a programmable quick-entry bar that I worked with to get the HTML. It has the ability to group files in books, and sync with Dropbox in plain text, meaning I could work with the files anywhere I could get to Dropbox with a text editor.

I missed my Wiki, though, so I started working with Trunk Notes. This has taken some getting used to, but it is more powerful than Notestudio in a lot of ways. I love the fact I can set up universal headers and footers, and that the scripting appears to be just as powerful as the Notestudio scripting. The only thing I dislike is that I can’t have multiple notebooks. It also syncs in plain text with Dropbox.

I’ve had the iPad about two weeks now, and I am slowly transitioning. It really creamed my productivity for the first week (see Kill Your Productivity With A New Device), but I am coming up to speed on using it for a writing tool. I find that I am getting more done as I work with the tools.

So I’m curious…does anyone out there have an iPad? What are the must-have applications for you? Please share below.

Photo by Sean MacEntee