Notes on an iPad – IAWriter or Byword?

ALA 2013 is coming up in a few days, and I want all you iPad note-takers to be prepared! For the last year or so, when I take notes on my iPad, I’ve been using iA Writer, and it works great. But I’m not really fond of the font. And I’m apparently the only one like that – iA Writer’s “beautiful design” gets mentioned a lot. But it’s not my favorite.

So… I tried another app. Byword, to be exact. Here’s what I found.

iA Writer and Byword are pretty similar. They are both popular writing apps for iOS devices. Both sync to iCloud and Dropbox if needed. Both have handy keyboard extension bars for easy-to-access keystrokes (like colons, commas, etc).

And Byword gives me a choice of fonts – so my problem was solved with Byword. Yippie!

One big difference between Byword and iA Writer is the keyboard. Both have a keyboard extension bar, but iA Writer’s works better for me. iA Writer has punctuation shortcuts that I actually use, like dashes, colons, semicolons, and apostrophes.

Byword’s keyboard extension bar includes a LOT of cool functionality. It actually has three rotating bars, and even shows word count, which is very useful. The 2nd and 3rd bars have some punctuation, but  … well, not what I need. No dashes, colons, or semicolons. And it includes a bunch of shortcuts that I’d never really use – things like brackets and the star key.

The deciding factor for me?

The iA Writer keyboard seems to work better for me. On Byword, the keyboard looks pretty much the same as iA Writer, but it seems like the software behind the keyboard isn’t picking stuff up the same way iA Writer does. With Byword, I get missed keystrokes, misspellings, and a bunch of weird auto-corrects.

With iA Writer, the keyboard … just works. The only errors I get are from me and my fingers.

So – after testing, it looks like the only thing I don’t like on iA Writer is the font … and you know what? I can live with the font. I’m sticking to iA Writer for now.

For more info, here are some other articles comparing iA Writer and Byword:

Tablet users – what do you use when you type on your tablet?