Although writing in iOS might seem troublesome, with faster fingers or a Bluetooth keyboard you can actually get a lot done. Whether it's just a note, your next novel or new screenplay, here are the apps you'll need.
Simplenote, Evernote and AwesomeNote
We've highlighted Simplenote and Evernote many times, and AwesomeNote as well, but there's no denying these are among the best apps for writing. Simplenote is phenomenal for quick tidbits or long form writing that doesn't require much formatting. Evernote supports far more options in terms of media types and formatting, making it an "everything bucket" (for better or worse). AwesomeNote adds even more features and syncs with both Evernote and Google Docs (check out our review for more info). Whatever suits you best for straightforward notes, one (or more) of these apps has you covered. Simplenote, Evernote, and AwesomeNote Lite are all free, but the full version of AwesomeNote will set you back $5.
TextExpander was originally just a wonderful Mac application that provides — believe it or not — your Mac text expansion abilities. It also now exists as an iPhone app. If you find text expansion useful when typing on a keyboard, it shouldn't be hard to imagine how much time it can save you when typing on a phone or a tablet. The downside of TextExpander on iOS is that iOS prevents it from automatically working outside of the TextExpander application. If you're composing an email to send with Apple's built-in Mail app, you'll need to first compose it in TextExpander and move it over to Mail (which is pretty easy to do, to be fair). The silver lining here is that TextExpander allows you to share snippets with any applications that support it. You can find the full list here. Many writing apps support it (some of which are mentioned here, like Simplenote and WriteRoom), and if you already have TextExpander for Mac you can sync your snippets to your iOS device. TextExpander currently sells for $6, which is on the pricier side for a mobile app, but the time savings are completely worth it if you're a hardcore text expansion devotee.
WriteRoom is similar to Simplenote in the sense that it syncs your notes online (with SimpleText.ws) and provides a very basic interface for getting plain text into your phone. WriteRoom bills itself as a distraction-free writing app, however, and attempts to achieve this by blocking out everything but the text and your keyboard as you write. By default you're given a white-text-on-a-black-background theme, but themes are interchangeable. Additionally, if you don't want to sync your notes online you can simply store them on your device and make them accessible on the local network. When you do this, WriteRoom will let you mount your device on your local machine via WebDAV. WriteRoom will cost you a somewhat steep $6.
My Writing Nook
My Writing Nook is another simple writing app but comes with a few customisation options. You can change the font size, go into Dark and Stormy Night Mode, and toggle auto-correction. It can also sync your writing online to the My Writing Nook webapp so you can write from a computer when you have one available. Most importantly, they share my affinity for Snoopy. While My Writing Nook does appear much like most of the other writing apps we've already mentioned, what really differentiates it is its focus on novel writing. Built-in to the app is both a dictionary and thesaurus, easily accessible on every note page so you can look up definitions and synonyms as needed. The cost of entry for My Writing Nook is a reasonable $4.
If you're really, seriously, writing a novel (it is NaNoWriMo, after all) you should take a look at ManuScript. ManuScript is oriented at writing, well, your manuscript, and will help you to outline and organise it properly. It provides research options beyond just the dictionary and thesaurus, allowing you to search Wikipedia and Google as well. When you're finished you can export your masterpiece as an XML file (for backup) or a printable HTML version (for, uh, printing). Either can be sent via email or saved to your Dropbox. ManuScript will run you $5, but when you think about all that money you'll make from your next book deal it's really just a drop in the bucket.
With your novel topping bestseller lists all over the world, it won't be long before Hollywood will come knocking at your door. Since you wrote your novel on your iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch), why not write the screenplay adaptation on it, too? That's what Scripts Pro is for. While it's not quite as seamless as writing a screenplay in Final Draft (whose iOS app has been in development for awhile now and may, someday, see a release), it's actually a functional screenwriting app that works across your iOS devices. It saves files as .txt and can share them with your computer over the local network, but there's no automatic syncing option like you'll find with pretty much every other writing app you can get for iOS. On the plus side, it will read Final Draft 8 and CELTX file formats so you can pick up a project you've already started. While it's not perfect, Scripts Pro is a completely usable screenwriting app. At $7, it's a heck of a lot cheaper than what you'll pay for Final Draft.
Pages is part of Apple's iWork suite for iPad and it really demonstrates how much you can actually accomplish on an iPad. If you like your writing a little more illustrated and themed, Pages is the way to go. Beyond just generally writing, you can use Pages to create brochures, flyers, reports, etc. It reads Pages documents from your Mac and Microsoft Word documents as well. You can export and mail any documents you create in these formats, plus PDF as well. If you've used Pages on a Mac before, you'll find Pages on the iPad to be mostly familiar. While not a perfect app, it really takes advantage of the large touchscreen on the iPad. With iOS 4.2 due any day now, printing will be a welcome addition to an already rich feature set. If you want to grab a copy, you can for $13.
Chapters is a simple writing app for iPad that lets you organise your writing projects into notebooks with user-selectable paper. Chapters lets you write in any screen orientation, adjust the look of your text, add photos, and even export to PDF. It's very much like Pages but is more focused on the writing than it is on layout and other design-oriented tasks. While it's versatile enough to handle whatever writing projects you may want to throw at it, its feature set makes it an excellent journaling application. Paired with a Bluetooth keyboard it's a great way to write on your iPad. The only big downside to Chapters is a lack of sync. Chapters comes to a total of $5 in the app store.
We've taken a look at PlainText before, finding it to be a simple and easy-to-use PlainText editor that syncs with Dropbox. In fact, it's nearly identical to the wonderful Simplenote. It runs natively on all iOS devices, it syncs your notes across devices and to the web, and the interface is wonderfully minimal — especially in the very welcome fullscreen mode. If you like Simplenote but prefer Dropbox syncing, PlainText is probably what you're looking for. While a free app, it'll cost you $6 to remove ads.
Got any great iOS writing apps you love? Share 'em in the comments!