Alright. You got me. I’m going to try to write a double review for the next app to return to my home screen. Actually it’s a single review with bonus app, I suppose.
Ever since the app came out, I’ve used iA Writer for almost every single post on this site. It’s quiet, minimalist, simple: all buzzwords when it comes to design—especially iOS or Mac design. With Dropbox syncing, it almost becomes the perfect writing tool for the iPad and iPhone, but not quite.
I use Markdown. At the most basic level, it allows me to write in a text editor anywhere, then copy it with formatting intact to Tumblr (or any CMS that supports it). But I could do that with HTML, right? Sure, but have you ever tried to read HTML? It’s not pretty, and it’s not pleasant. Markdown is designed to be easily readable.
With that in mind, iA Writer’s support for Markdown is fine as it’s a simple text editor and any text editor can write in Markdown by design. What you can’t do in Writer is preview your writing with the Markdown converted to HTML. Do my links work? Did I get that bold word or italic phrase? And so on.
Enter Byword which does many of the same things that Writer does (like Dropbox sync), including the best feature of both. Above the keyboard in each app, there’s an additional row of keys for commonly accessed characters and navigation. Byword has up, down, left, right for character placement while Writer has single character left-right and one word at a time. Writer has access to smart quotes, colons, and semicolons (useful for quickly punctuating your writing) while Byword has parentheses and square brackets (very useful for Markdown).
So they are two pretty evenly featured writing apps, but which one makes the home screen and why? Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the win goes to Byword. It has Markdown preview, a clean design, and Markdown focused bonus keys. iA Writer is great, but in the end, its slavish dedication to minimalism sacrifices usability in the way I write on iOS.