Both the iPhone and iPad can be great tools for writers, with both offering different experiences and capabilities. With the iPhone, you can write something no matter where you are, whether it's in line for coffee or just getting a quick thought down at your desk. With the iPad, you can enjoy wider screen real estate, but with the single-app focus that keeps you from getting distracted.
There are a wide variety of apps available for writers who want to work on their iOS 15 devices, from simple text editors to full-featured writing suites. It doesn't matter if you're taking notes, writing articles, or working your way to writing the great American novel, there's an app for that on your iOS device.
1Writer supports export in plain text, HTML, and PDF, and you can also add your document to Evernote using the built-in integration with the note-taking service.
If you write in Markdown, 1Writer is an excellent app that has an incredible rich preview so you can see exactly what your writing looks like on the live end.
Let's get this out of the way up front: yes, Ulysses has recently moved to a subscription model. You're either fine with that or you're not, and if you're not, this list is full of great options if you're looking to make a switch.
Ulysses offers a full array of tools for writers of any kind. This app is easy to pick up and start using but offers a wide array of customization options for everything from writing to exporting. Choose to work in Markdown or create your own markup style. While the app for iPhone and iPad doesn't present the same visual customization options as those found on the Mac, it can still take advantage of those features, and you can download new themes in the Ulysses Style Exchanger to use on any device. When it comes time to publish, you can export your work in a variety of formats, including plain text, DOCX, and ePub. You can also publish your work to WordPress sites and Medium.
Your projects all sync with iCloud between Mac, iPhone, and iPad, with Dropbox support also available.
Ulysses is one of the most customizable writing apps, making it a great choice for anyone who loves managing all the little details.
iA Writer puts an emphasis on simplicity, making it a simple matter to get started writing in plain text. That's not to say that there aren't advanced features, however, as there are quite a few. Syntax Control breaks down your writing to show you the structure; highlighting adjectives, nouns, conjunctions, and more. iA Writer's Focus Mode lets you focus on one line at a time to keep you from getting distracted. By default, the app's keyboard bar offers several useful controls, like buttons for one-tap list creation, but you can customize that bar to fit how you work. Link to other documents in iA Writer to combine them into a single project, or link to images or spreadsheet files to see them in iA Writer's Preview screen in a number of different templates.
Like other apps on this list, iA Writer lets you publish to blogs, in this case, WordPress and Medium. You can also export your work in Markdown, PDF, HTML, and Microsoft Word.
Incredible writing app especially for those who publish their work on WordPress sites or Medium since it can directly publish to those platforms.
Scrivener brings all of your writing tools into a single app, whether you're organizing research notes for a paper or scene outlines for a script. The app supports writing all sorts of long-form documents and offers a number of granular formatting options no matter what you're working on. Make a plan and organize your ideas on digital notecards and lay them out on the app's corkboard to see how your work fits together. Import images, PDFs, and other media you've used as research to refer to it later, even bringing it in side-by-side with your text so you can quickly refer to your research while you're writing. Keep your work segmented for easier organization and editing, and easily reorder your work so it all fits together in the best way possible.
When you're done, compile your project into a single document, and export it in formats like DOCX, rich text, PDF, and Final Draft. Thanks to syncing with Dropbox, you can share your work between Scrivener for iPhone and iPad and its big brother for Mac.
Scrivener is is a full-fledged writing app for any type of writing. Whether you're writing your next book or a research paper, you can't go wrong with Scrivener.
Bear might seem simple on the surface, but it offers a great deal of flexibility for handling text. It's true that Bear is good for both notes and to-do checklists, but its support for Markdown, variety of themes, and simple organization make it a great tool for many different kinds of writing. Add images, files, code blocks, and more to spice up your work and give it more context.
In terms of options, you've got few. Choose how to sort your documents, pick a theme, pick your font, and even control fine-grain details such as font size, line height and width, and paragraph spacing. If you'd like to sync your work between Bear on your iOS devices and Bear for Mac, you can purchase a $1.49 per month subscription to Bear Pro.
A simple aesthetic with tons of great tools for writers, Bear really does make it all look and feel so easy.
While Terminology isn't, strictly speaking, an app in which you write, it's the kind of app that can prove itself essential to any writer. Terminology offers a combined dictionary and thesaurus, but it can also be much more than that. The word lookup functions, which are available both on and offline, let you mark favorites, lookup synonyms, antonyms, and more. But Terminology, developed by Agile Tortoise, also supports a wide set of custom actions that can turn the app into a powerful research companion through its integration with other apps and the web.
Terminology also features a share extension so that you can highlight text in any app and look it up in Terminology right from the share sheet. The app keeps your history, favorite words, and actions all backed up and in sync between devices with iCloud.
The absolute best writer's tool for checking spelling, definitions, audio pronunciations, and much more.
Need a note-taking app? We got you.
While we love all the writing apps mentioned above, they are more meant for full-fledged writing. If you're looking for apps that are great for note-taking — especially with Apple Pencil — these are the best note-taking apps for iPad.
Updated Aprill 2022: Updated for iOS 15 and iPadOS 15.
Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.
Which of these apps let me open and edit files (rtf, rtfd, txt) directly from icloud drive (without copying them)?
Notebooks (http://www.notebooksapp.com) does it all and more.
Microsoft Word!!! And maybe you should clarify "writing" in the sense of typing (keyboard) and not handwriting (Pencil).
I have been upswing Byword for the last year. It's really clean with no frills and has a dark mode. No frills means no distractions and I can get stuff done!
I would suggest including the Ulysses subscription price the same way that the Bear price was included. I have the feeling that web-writers who really like Ulysses give it preference that may not be there for more common-folk users. When I heard podcast chit-chat about it going to subscription, I did not hear anyone say that this shift means not only that there is an annual price...but that it no longer can be family-shared. BIG increase.
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