Inkwell for Dropbox - A Simple Text Editing, Notes & Writing App (Free) by Matt Schrage is a simplistic text editor for your iPad that will help you focus on writing.
As a writer here at AppAdvice, I can assure you that I have gone through my fair share of writing apps, as evident by my writing app showdown from last year. While I’m always on the lookout for new apps, I can’t seem to stray off from Byword from my iOS devices as well as my Mac. But I’m definitely more than happy to give new apps a try and see if they’re any good for others. So how does Inkwell for iPad stack up? Let’s find out.
First, you are greeted immediately with a brief little tutorial of how the use the app. Inkwell is primarily gesture based, which should make writing on your iPad just a bit easier. If you swipe left, you’ll be selecting text. A swipe right will paste text. While some text is selected, swiping left will delete it, swiping right will copy, and a pinch will cut the text out. Pretty simple stuff, right? As I normally don’t use gestures do these tasks when I write, it will definitely take some time to get used to, but I do like the concept. Of course, if you are using a physical keyboard with your iPad, then it may get a bit tiring to constantly reach from the keyboard to the screen multiple times.
In order to use Inkwell, you will need a Dropbox account. Unfortunately, there is no workaround for this, as it is a requirement of the app. So if you are currently using another cloud storage service for your files, then you will need to either use Dropbox just for this app (a 2GB account is free when you sign up), or you can’t use it at all. I hope that the developer considers different syncing options in the future, or at least allow local use without any cloud storage service.
For those who do use Dropbox, Inkwell will create a new folder named “Inkwell” in your main Dropbox folder. This is nice if you end up only using Inkwell for writing, but if you’re like me, and have a lot of other documents in your Dropbox, then you’ll probably need the /Dropbox root folder access. I hope that the developer considers adding this in the future.
Inkwell has a sample document ready for new users, which will talk about how to use the app. When you’re ready to add your own document, you can just tap on the + button in the top, and a clean new sheet will be ready for you. The title of the plain text file (.txt) can be changed by tapping on the header bar, and then you can tap anywhere on the body to start writing. Inkwell can be used for anything from quick note-taking to article writing to your next big novel.
A nifty feature of Inkwell is the ability to quickly add indents if you are starting a new paragraph. As you create new line breaks, you will notice a small, translucent arrow button pop up in the left margin. Tapping it will allow you to indent the paragraph, or you can tap it again to decrease the indent.
If you want to view your other documents to switch to them, tap on the button at the top of the screen (scrolling required if you have a lot of text since it’s not static) that resembles a sheet of paper. This reveals the document tray, where you can scroll through all of your text files so far and create a new one. There is also the option to email the document’s text, or you can choose to open the file in another third-party app that supports it.
While Inkwell is good at being a simple writing app, I need more features before I could use this on a daily basis. First, the font is probably too small for a lot of people (even me), and there is no way to change the font size to something a tad bigger, nor are there other font options. Second, there are no keyboard extensions in this app – for an app that is geared for writing, I would have expected an additional row for at least some commonly used punctuation. Third, there’s no TextExpander support, which is a shame. I have a lot of snippets that I use for shortcuts to common phrases, words, or special characters in my TextExpander file, and I need access to them daily while I write. Not supporting this is a big hindrance for me.
And the biggest flaw for me is the fact that there is no Markdown syntax support. As I am constantly writing for the site, and need to include links and other emphasis on text, I was incredibly disappointed that Markdown is not supported. Since the app is touted as “providing the best writing experience on the iPad,” I would have expected such a feature to be included by default. I hope that the developer does change this in the future.
The final thing that should be changed is the Dropbox requirement. Not everyone uses Dropbox (believe it or not), and it should not be forced upon them (same with all of those apps that use Facebook Connect). There should definitely be support for other cloud storage services, or at least the option to use iCloud or just local storage for files.
I really wanted to like Inkwell, but in the current state, it does not suit my needs. However, that’s probably because I have a lot of demands for such an app, since I write for a living. For someone else who just wants a simple little app that allows them to quickly write, then this could be it.
Since Inkwell is available for free for a limited time, I recommend grabbing it and giving it a try yourself.