My Favorite Apps: Writers Toolbox on the iPhone!

iTalk Recorder – by Griffin Technology

A mobile writer’s best friend. I’ve fleshed out plot sequences, brainstormed settings and traced historical information for my characters using this app while driving down the road. Maybe not recommended, but alot better than trying to write down that amazing idea that always seems to occur when I have my hands at 10 and 2 (or 9 and 3 if you are younger). This app has a great big easy-to hit record and stop button. You can name the file later (if you are driving) and transcribe it at a later date or wi-fi it to your computer when you get back to the office. It permits continuation of an existing recording and has a choice of sound qualities. I’ve tried four of these types of apps and find this one to be the best, most clean cut of the group so far. Great app and the price couldn’t be better: Free!

WriteRoom – by HogBaySoftware

A distraction-free, basic black background with white type text app (landscape-keyboard-enabled for faster input). This tiny version is based on the desktop program WriteRoom by hogbaysoftware.com. The iPhone version offers support for multiple ongoing documents and basic statistics (number of paragraphs, words, characters) in a couple taps. You can also backup your work with a couple taps by sending yourself (or someone else) an email copy.($4.99)

TextGuru – by Brancipater Software

An easy way to file-share your works in progress and reference materials between your desktop and your iPhone. You can view HTML, Images (.jpg, .png, .tga., .tif, .tiff), PDF files, PowerPoint and Word documents. You can edit text files (but NOT Word documents). Text files can be saved in multiple formats including: .txt, .html/.htm, .php, .js, .c, .h, .cpp, .m/.mm, .pl, .py .taskpaper, .rb, .ja/.jar, .bin, and custom file extensions. Nice extras include cut and paste, find and replace, revert to last save (undo) and user-designated autosave timer.You can see file attributes including most recent modification timestamps, encoding and size.

TextGuru also offers multiple fonts, four background colors, multi-document search, basic statistics (paragraphs, words, character counts) and email for instant backup to your inbox when you are out and about. You can also submit your file to Pastie.org and Sprunge. For programmers, the TextGuru’s view as a webpage option is really nice as well. Although you can view most documents in both landscape and portrait formats, you can only enter text in portrait (unfortunately). If it did have a landscape keyboard, it could replace my need for WriteRoom. Maybe the developer will address this in the next update. ($4.99)

Margins – by Architechies

Offers a great way to keep all your notes on books you are reading (or are using for research) in your favorite all-in-one device. Email backup is offered for the notes on any individual book and it’s ISBN enabled so just a few taps (the ISBN number) will auto-fill all the information about the book for you. I wish this had a landscape keyboard option (maybe the developer will add that in an upcoming version.) It would also be nice to have a way to take a photo of the passage and manually “highlight” it in the app with a touch, rather than having to type it all in before making comments/notes on the printed text. ($3.99)

iStop WritersBlock – by Lab013 Studios

A fun little “muse in a box” concept for your iPhone with plot ideas, inspirational quotes and writing challenges for the creative writer. I hope this developer continues to add new plot and challenge ideas. It’s not a workhorse like some of the other apps, but it’s a cool writer’s tweak for a buck. ($.99 – until the end of November as a special for NaNoWriMo).

Idea Generator  – by The Directors Bureau

Cool little shake-it-up mix and match word phrase program. I didn’t really care for the words that came with the program — they were too far out — but I love the fact that I can add my own to create some interesting mashups of current topics, ideas and actions for a work in progress. Makes me look at some of the standard ideas in unusual ways. Fun, cheap, cool. ($.99)

Stanza – by Lexcycle, Inc

I’ve reviewed and raved about this iPhone Book Reading app before, but for the writer on the go, being able to load up reference materials to read while out and about is a great boost in the value of the iPhone for the writer’s toolbox. (Just wish my Palm ebooks .PDB files would work on it.) Price, as always, is free!

Names – by Richard Wilkes

Name randomizer gives you the choice of four male/four female names on a single iPhone screen. Refresh button gives you a whole new list. Rinse, lather, repeat. Great way to get out of the rut of using the same types and flavors of names for your characters. Besides being an inspiration for character names, it’s fun (at least fun for a writer… in that twisted kind of a wordy way that others will never understand). ($.99)

My Baby – by irona.com and vensi.com

This app offers the ability to search based on meaning, or by letters of the alphabet. You can select from female or male names and you can save the “contending” names in a My Names list. The My Names list is a one-touch operation and is extremely helpful when you are sorting through all the possible options. Do note that the Origins search doesn’t appear to work properly — but the resulting names from other searches does offer origins information. Free.

Wikipanion – by Robert Chin

No writer should be without access to Wikipedia. Period. There are a slew of Wikipedia apps out there and I think I’ve tested most of them. This one is free and is bulletproof (doesn’t crash or report “server” issues), unlike many of the others. I may invest in the plus version of this one to be able to download items in my queue for offline browsing at a later time. That seems like the best option for this resource. One app offerd in the app store downloads the whole wikipedia on your device, but I think that’s a bit of overkill (and eats space I need for other apps and stuff!). The online only versions (which is what the free version is here) sometimes is amazingly slow on cell signals. (Free/$4.99 for Plus version)

Still Under Investigation:

Dictionary/Thesaurus

I’m still holding out and hoping for the Complete (not Concise) Oxford and the full, unabridged Oxford Thesaurus. I’ve texted several free and low-cost versions and will continue to use WordBook – Dictionary/Thesaurus combo ($7.99) by TranCreative Software and Dictionaire: The Simple Dictionary (free) by Hampton Catlin until I find my killer options on these two essential resources.

Organization/Data Management

Capturing the snippets of infomation and ideas in one central location is a challenge. Doing it while mobiel is even more challenging. I’ve dedicated one homepage to just writing apps and resources. I’m also evaluating iDB Datamaster by Evince Technologies, Inc (with a section my databases dedicated for use with writing projects) to see if that organizes or unnecessarily complicates the process. I’m simultaneously testing 44 Jots by Shaila Klosterman of Infofission ($.99) at the moment to see if the multimedia options there are a help or a hindrance to my creative process.

Quotes Apps

I like Daily Quote by Miron Vranjes (free), but would like to not be limited to a single quote, since I tend to binge on those little granules of wisdom at any opportunity. It does offer the ability to save favorite quotes, which is nice and one-tap lookup of the person quoted in Wikipedia, which is also pretty sweet. I’d recommend it for those one quote a day types. It works well.

iQuotes free by Danile Perez has beautiful backgrounds and lovely quote selections, but they are often extremely difficult to read, which distresses me and makes me squint. It also makes me angry whenever I try to read the quotes and have to squint to do so. Squinting makes wrinkles. ‘Nuff said.

iQuote by Gihad Chibb ($1.99) offers over 10,000 quotes on a beautiful, easy-to-read interface, the option to read by category and author… and ability to add your own quotes. SCORE! You can also save your favorites and email quotes and rank your quotes.

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