Mobile Apps for Writers 2019

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These days many writers rely on their mobile devices, their phones and tablets, rather than (or in addition to) more analogue stationary. Anything to get ideas down on the move with a minimum of effort and inconvenience. So I’ve gathered a list of mobile apps that I find useful to this end. I’ll apologise for the slight iOS bias in these, it’s not that I think one platform is necessarily superior to any other, but it just happens to be the one that works for me. Some these aren’t free, and there are cheaper alternatives for most, but again they’re the ones that work for me.

Dropbox

(Cost from £0. Available for IOS/Android/Windows Phone/Windows/Mac/Web)

Dropbox is really just your basic minimum, it’s a syncing, backup and file storage solution. Install it on your computer(s) and it’ll keep the folder synchronised across everything and make the files available to your on all your mobile devices. You can also share people links to files or entire folders, rather than sending documents backwards and forwards. Importantly, some apps listed below also allow direct access to Dropbox, meaning you’re not linked into any device specific ecosystems for file access and sharing. While the basic Dropbox package is free for 2Gb of storage, you can get 1Tb of storage for £7.99 per month.

Scrivener

(Cost: £20. Available for iOS. Windows and Mac versions at extra cost)

The desktop app for Scrivener is quite a beast, but to my mind there’s none better for planning your prose. It does have a basic screenwriting mode as well, if your outline takes you down that path.

The mobile app is pretty good, syncing via Dropbox, for outlining and writing on the go. All my prose projects start out in Scrivener.

Bear

(Cost free of £13.99 per year. Available for Mac/iOS only)

It’s a shame that Bear is iOS/OSX only, as it work wonderfully as a note-taking and note organisation app. For me it is in the process of replacing both Drafts (an iOS note taking app) and Evernote (a cross-platform note organisation app).

Bear is a beautiful, simple and friction-free writing tool, with an excellent note organisation system. The lack of full cross-platform access is hampering full adoption as I’m forced to use a Windows laptop for part of my work, but apparently there’s a Bear web app coming soon.

Microsoft Word

(Cost £0. Available for IOS/Android/Windows/Mac/Web)

As opposed to Drafts, Microsoft Word is a fully fledged word processor, and the mobile implementation, especially for tablets, is pretty good. It can even open documents from Dropbox and save them back there. Much as some would like to leave the hegemony of MS word, people are still going to use it and so we need to be able to open and edit the documents.

However, to take advantage of MS Office across all platforms, the best bet is a £79.99 annual subscription to Office 365. Subscription model SaaS is sadly here to stay.

Fade In Mobile

(Cost £3.99. Available for IOS/Android)

I’m a big fan of Fade In screenwriting software, and the mobile implementation is pretty good as well. And it too can open from, and sync with, Dropbox.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus

(Cost £0. Available for IOS/Android/Web)

The M-W dictionary and thesaurus app is excellent. There are cheaper versions out there, and even British English specialised dictionaries, but I find that M-W blows them away, and also differentiates between British and American usages.

Annual subscription to remove the fairly unobtrusive ads is £1.79.

Todoist

todoist logo

(Cost from £0. Available for IOS/Android/Windows Phone/Windows/Mac/Web)

While not a writing app, I use Todoist constantly. Not just for shopping lists and other domestic and personal tasks, but I create projects for everything I’m working on. I use an adapted GTD method and document all next steps on my creative projects, so I can stay on top of them all.

You’ll likely find it worthwhile to pay for a Premium subscription at £3 per month, which allows tagging, filtering and attachments.

WordPress

(Cost £0. Available for IOS/Android/Web)

Almost everyone has a WordPress blog, and if you’re amongst them, you’ll want the mobile app. WordPress editing has come a long way, and it’s new Gutenberg block editor is a delight to use. Especially if you’re writing for multiple blogs, it’s great for editing and drafting on the go.

Do you have any others you can’t live without? Any replacements for any of the above, or comments on the ones I’ve chosen? Let me know!

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