Byword app for ios is my recent purchase on the app store and the first of its kind for writing. I don’t have a Mac yet and hence do my writing on the iPad, iPhone or on Write Monkey (you can read my review of write monkey here) on my desktop. Dropbox on both helps me keep my files synced. While I sync my files on the desktop manually, Byword has the option to sync files using iCloud or Dropbox built right within and syncs files seamlessly. Setting up sync is just a breeze. Byword handles conflicts quite nicely as well. There is an option not sync files as well for people who don’t need the feature.
To me the number of features an app has matters but also their implementation and usability. I would prefer an app that has 2 features well implemented rather than 4 features not so usable. Byword is quite a minimalist on the iOS, yet at the same time it has all the features you would need to pour out your awesomeness into words. All you can customize in the preferences is your choice from 4 nice fonts, turn on/off autocorrect, auto capitalization and spell checker. On the settings screen you can export the text into HTML or copy as HTML to paste it directly to your blog , website etc or email it. You can print the document as well via AirPrint. I haven’t tried print as I don’t have an AirPrint printer yet.
p style=”text-align:center;”> What I like about any app is the amount of attention to detail the developers put into the small things that constitutes for a far rewarding experience than otherwise. In Byword I am delighted by the toolbar which doubles as a status bar. It’s so nice and helpful I would like to call it the awesome bar. A few pictures should explain why I would call it the awesome bar.
The awesome bar just shows the word count initially and a tap reveals the number of characters and another tap reveals both the word and character count. Gently swipe the status bar from right to left and you will be surprised to see that the status bar just became your toolbar with buttons for inserting tab spaces, various brackets, quotes and asterisk. On the iPhone the right half of the toolbar reveals an undo button which is nice, but I liked the left and right arrow keys the most. I always felt a need for these keys while typing on the mail composer on iOS, most often I have had to delete the entire word instead of just correcting a letter in the middle of the word and it’s been a pain to get the cursor to the right spot especially on the iPhone. The last button is a nifty keyboard minimizer button. On the iPad the tool remains the same except for the undo and minimize keyboard button are replaced by up and down cursor keys. I am not sure why they changed the buttons, but personally I would prefer the iPhone buttons and functionality.
Further swiping the toolbar once more to the left reveals more buttons to insert markdown shortcuts for headers, links, images and lists. While the right set of buttons remain the same as the previous tool bar. It is questionable that markdown was created with the notion to avoid the hassles of paying too much attention to the formatting and tagging and having tool bar buttons to insert these formatting defeats the purpose of markdown. Well actually in Byword it doesn’t. The iPad and iPhone don’t have a full size keyboard where we have access to all the symbols and numbers with in reach. Most often they are 1 or 2 taps away, so instead of tapping twice to get to a hash symbol for a header we are better off with the hash tool bar button. So the toolbar saves quite a lot of taps in all with out defeating some of the purpose of markdown.
What I would like to see in the future releases of Byword is for a night mode option to just reverse the font and background color. It would be quite nice and handy for somebody like me who fiddles with his iPhone at odd hours in the night.
To sum it up, Byword exceeds expectations for a minimalist writing app and is a perfect markdown writing tool for iOS. I would recommend it to anybody who is looking for a writing app on the iOS markdown or not.