Note it down and keep it safe with Write for iOS

Write is a new iOS app from independent developer Tanmay Sonawane. It’s currently highlighted in the New section of the App Store’s Productivity category, and is available now for $0.99, though the app’s description suggests the price will be rising soon.

Write is a simple text editor app for iOS that is designed to integrate tightly with the popular Dropbox cloud storage service. It allows users to create text files — optionally using Markdown for formatting — and then save them online.

The app’s interface is simple but elegant, and well-designed for the small screen of the iPhone. As well as the keyboard, a toolbar offers quick access to commonly-used punctuation marks — which are also frequently-used in Markdown syntax — and can be “slid” across the screen to reveal additional formatting options, including both, italic, underline and heading settings along with the ability to add links, quotes and images. The latter may include images imported from a direct URL or the user’s photo library. There is also the option to use the camera to immediately take a new image and add it to the note. The app does not automatically “close” Markdown tags; users must remember to put the appropriate markings in place to stop text being, say, bold.

The default view for Write is to display the Markdown syntax in its raw form, but with the tap of a button this may be switched to “Markdown preview mode,” which allows the user to see the results of their formatting. Disappointingly, the app does not offer the facility to edit in WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) mode and instead switches back to the raw Markdown syntax when editing continues.

The note is saved automatically to Dropbox when the user finishes editing it, and may be saved manually at any time by pulling down from the top of the screen. If the user pulls down an unedited document from the top of the screen, a Delete option appears instead of the Save function. An additional confirmation window appears if the user follows this through to prevent accidental deletion.

Once a document has been completed, it can be shared in a variety of ways. Either the Dropbox link to the file or the text itself can be copies to the clipboard, or the text emailed as an attachment, plain text or HTML message. It may be sent as an SMS message or added to the iOS Reminders app, or printed as plain text or formatted HTML generated from the Markdown. The app also supports compatible installed third-party apps including Facebook, Twitter, Clear, Evernote, Google Drive and a variety of other services accessible via the Open In… dialog box. Text may also be uploaded to PasteBin and the subsequently-created link copied to the clipboard — good for users who do not wish to allow others access to their Dropbox, even on a limited basis.

There are a number of nice little features that help elevate Write from being a simple but competent text editor into something rather special. For starters, there’s the innovative “trackball” cursor movement mechanic, whereby instead of using iOS’ rather clumsy “loupe” mechanic, the cursor may be moved by pressing and holding on an on-screen trackball (similarly-positioned to the physical trackball on a BlackBerry device) and moving their finger around. This is a very quick and easy means of navigating a document, and it may even be used to highlight sections. It’s a great idea that it would be very nice to see in other text-heavy applications.

The user’s view of their work may also be customized by pressing and holding with two fingers on the edit area. From here, the user may choose the default font for displaying text from several alternatives, adjust the brightness of the screen or even invert the colors to activate “Night Mode” for reading without eye strain in the dark.