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    Writers' software month: iA Writer

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    I posted a few days ago that October is turning out to be a wonderful month for writers who enjoy trying out new word processing software. Today I want to tell you about an iPad app.There are a ton of word processing apps for the iPad and, in my opinion, Pages is still the best by far due to the rich feature set. This might change, however, if Apple ever decides to open up their styled-text and other iWork suite APIs to developers. Until then, it's hard for one iPad word processor to really distinguish itself from the next in a significant way. One app that has, however, is called iA Writer.

    iA Writer has two features that I haven't seen in other iPad word processors. One of those features is called Focus Mode. While in Focus Mode, everything except for the three most recent lines of text are blurred out. The idea behind this is that it focuses the writer just on the words or thought flow that is immediately in his mind. Focus eliminates everything but the words; you don't see any auto-correction text, tool bars, or spelling errors. The feature took me a while to get used to, but once I did it became something I wish that desktop word processors would adopt.


    A second cool feature is an expanded keyboard, or "keyboard extensions" as the devs at iA Writer call them. The keyboard extension adds an extra row of buttons on top of the iPad's normal keyboard. Most of the buttons are shortcuts to punctuation you'd normally have to hit the . key to get to, but the keyboard extension also adds a word tab button that lets you move the cursor forward or backwards in the text one word at a time. The word tab button lets you get to a specific place in your document faster and more comfortably than moving the cursor with your finger. The keyboard extension also has left and right arrow keys that allow you to move the cursor one letter at a time. These word tab and arrow keys are so handy, Apple should seriously consider adding them to the iPad's keyboard.

    iA Writer is a 1.0 release, so there are still some bugs to be flushed out. The Dropbox sync feature was a little iffy at best. However, if you are looking for a simple word processor for the iPad, iA Writer's focus mode and keyboard extensions give it a leg up on the competition. iA Writer is available in the App Store for $4.99.

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