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Writers and the iPad – Surprisingly Useful

Just about a month ago I bought an iPad. I bought it as a toy, so I could watch movies in my TV-less living room and maybe play in an occasional coffee shop.

I’ve been surprised to find the machine is useful for work as well!

I don’t do word processing on it yet, but using the ‘yellow tablet’ that came with it I take notes at meetings. I am starting to use the included calendar. I’ve found that I can use it to read at least some of those pdf files I’ve saved about marketing and other business products using called Splashtop Remote that gives me access to my desktop from my couch. I’m redeveloping the term ‘couch potato.’

I shouldn’t have been surprised when Shane Ketterman wrote an article on CopyBlogger called 8 iPad Apps for Brilliant Writing. I’m looking forward to trying some of them.

The Orange County Register has a photo series on iPad writing tools… more interesting, perhaps for the photos then the info, it gives you a good look at the iPad.


Tom Colvin over at BecomingAWriter.com has an article pointing to some writing tools. He also talks about some of the music tool’s he’s downloaded. I have Virtuoso – a free piano app that even allows duets and Digi HD Lite – a drum kit, both for free.

William Gallagher at Self Distract talks clearly about the on screen keyboard. I have better luck with it than he does, but it’s not a good writing tool. He also alludes to a real advantage of the iPad for writers, and that’s as a reading tool. You can download all sorts of ebook readers, get classics for free and buy as many books as you could read in several life times.

The Editorial Engine writes about 10 tasty iPad apps for writers. This article focuses more on tech than on writing which makes it a good addition. It even explains clearly how you can connect your camera to your iPad.


Iain Broom of Write For Your Life has a round up article called The iPad for writers: how it feels, why I recommend it and the applications I use that’s worth spending some time with.

Can you tell I love my iPad? I do. The biggest problem of owning one? The temptation to spend money on apps and tunes… far too easy. I’ve been pretty good about it, until I scummed to two(1) fishponds for my kitty to watch. She plays a bit with her paw, making the water splash, then wanders off. I suspect she knows it’s a cheat.

Do I think every writer should have one? I”m not quite ready to go that far, but I will tell you it’s turned out to be much more useful than I expected.

What are your thoughts on the iPad?

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Image of iPad with Waterfield Designs iPad Smart Case found at http://www.askdavetaylor.com/review_apple_ipad_cases.html

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Kristin R., Infopoint Virtual Services

    I know this article was written two years ago and things have definitely changed but I just wanted to quickly comment. I use my iPad frequently for my freelance/VA business and I am now able to access my GoogleDocs account by accessing the website via the browser. There are also a few apps in the App Store that allow you to read/edit your GoogleDocs account. Hope I helped someone who didn’t know about this. 🙂

    • Hmmm, hadn’t thought to look for apps for google docs… great idea.

  • I find that writing something longer than a page on my iPad is pretty difficult with the on-screen keyboard, but not so much because the process takes slightly longer, but because it encourages me to cut corners and shorten my ideas when I type. When I do use my iPad for writing, I try to start with an outline.

    • Tony, I’ve found the same thing… also sometimes I’ll just sketch out an article or whatever with a list on my ipad, then send it to my desktop to fill out and finish.

  • Jim

    I see you bought the same padded sleeve I did. Works great.

    • Yeah… if I ever replace it I may try for something that stands in portrait better, but I like it.

  • Meh. I’m really drawn more to a traditional computer. My laptop is a huge 17″ widescreen and heavy. I’m hoping to get a small notebook to supplement it at some point. It would be easier for travel and lugging it back and forth to work every day so I can write at lunchtime. Although the iPad is very portable, I just don’t think it’s for me. I like that a regular computer will do whatever I want without me having to add anything.
    Elizabeth West recently posted..PossibilitiesMy Profile

    • Before you buy a laptop Elizabeth, see if you can get your hands on an iPad – if there’s an apple store near by that’s probably the best way. I thought I was going to get a laptop… my son harassed me to the apple store and he was right.

  • I am a gadget geek with no budget for gadgets. My kids got me an iPad for Christmas, but couldn’t wait to give it to me so I’ve been playing with it for a couple of weeks. Because I was ready to LOVE it, I feel a leeeetle disappointed, mostly due to the fact I cannot use Google Docs with it. I do virtually all of my writing with Google Docs. I did buy Pages, but if I start something in Pages I have to finish it on the iPad and not my desk top.

    It’s a very small complaint. Overall I really enjoy it. I have been using it as a reader probably more than anything, and as a complete cheapskate, spend a good bit of time looking for free apps. (Angry Birds Lite is quite fun when you need a short mental break) This site has been particularly useful:
    http://appadvice.com/appnn/

    • Dava, you might be able to use google docs with Splashtop Remote – link in article – haven’t tried it yet.

      • Also, Google have said that Google Docs on the iPad is in the works, though there’s no specific timescale.

        • thanks John, I”m still not sure how much work I want to do on the toy I bought myself 😉

    • Ohhhhh, an app review site – leo laporte has a show on youtube called ipad today… it’s a good one too. I’m trying to work with the free aps first… plenty of them.

  • Thanks for the shout out! I continue to find the iPad a great writing tool. Using the app PlainText and an Apple Bluetooth keyboard, I am writing everything from blog posts to the beginnings of my second novel.

    The best feature is actually what some consider a limitation – only having one app open at a time. It’s brilliant, because it focuses the mind and removes distractions. And writing in plain text encourages you to write on and come back later to edit, something I have previously been useless at!

    • lol, one app at a time can be frustrating and a blessing. I’ll try pain text and see how that works for me. Also found something that may let me post to this blog… not sure. Glad to have you here.

    • I don’t like the look of that keyboard for major typing… have some carpel tunnel and keyboards that hump up in the middle seem to work best. Downloading plaintext for a test run, thanks for the suggestion.

      Re the distraction feature… one app at a time… great point. The iPad is mindful!

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