Category Archives: Independent Knowledge Professionals

Nexus 7 Hands On: Pros, Cons, Tips and Apps

My Nexus 7 screenLast updated August 28, 2012

I come to this device as a knowledge professional, a relative newbie to Android though I have a Kindle Fire and as a major Apple fan with Mac, iPhone and iPad. If some of these bases resonate, you may find this post interesting. Hopefully, you’ll find a few useful pieces of information in here.

Yes, this screen to the left is my Nexus 7 as currently configured. Notice there are quite a few good apps here. You get apps plus  widgets! Mix and match. Widgets let you do many things like turn wi-fi on or off or adjust screen brightness more conveniently.

Without getting all jiggly, you can drag things around where you want them.

Nexus 7 Pros

  1. Smaller. Great size for portability and ease of use. Fits in my back jeans pocket.
  2. Shapely. Grippy back side and gently curving edges make it comfy to hold.
  3. Jelly Bean. Sporting the best Google has to offer: Android Jelly Bean. Google Now is pretty cool with its speech recognition even offline and quick information cards.
  4. Upgradeable. Will be easy to update to keep it current as Android versions release.
  5. Cheap. An excellent value at $249 for the 16 gb model.
  6. Responsive. Fast and smooth – very close to the snappy responsiveness of iPad 2, 3.
  7. Google. Good fit for Google fans who use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Earth and/or Chrome.
  8. Android. Good integration if you already have an Android smartphone. Android apps will generally work on both devices.
  9. Screen. Crisp screen with fast graphics chip.
  10. Portable. Less fiddly to hold and carry than an iPad due to it being lighter, smaller in the hand, grippy back and its lesser expense makes you worry less about its safety.
  11. Reader. Its 7″ size is ideal for reading comfortably.
  12. Future. The improvements in Jelly Bean and the release of this quality device at this price point make me optimistic about the future of Android devices.

Nexus 7 Cons

  1. Apps. Less choice and quality of apps than iPhone or iPad. This is an issue for apps in many knowledge categories like outlining, writing and mind mapping and will also be an issue in more obscure areas that may not have Android coverage – yet.
  2. Portrait-Oriented. Designed to be used like a large smartphone in portrait orientation. That is fine except apps tend to be enlarged smartphone apps that don’t take full advantage of the 7″ screen.
  3. Very Good not Great. Not quite as nice as the excellence of iPad in design or feel.
  4. Integration. Doesn’t integrate easily into an Apple-dominated setup. If you already have an iPhone and/or iPad or Mac and these are your home base. You’ll need to do some work to integrate.
  5. Learning Curve. Not as simple as Kindle Fire, so you’ll need to learn more to operate smoothly on Nexus 7 unless you’ve already learned another Android device previously. If you are comfortable with Mac and iOS, you’ll stumble to become familiar in this Android world (at least you will have lots of company, though).
  6. Limited On-device Storage. Other Android devices typically have an SD-card slot which allows for expansion by adding, say a 32gb card and storing movies and other large items there. Since the maximum storage offered is 16 gb, this is a limitation which perhaps Google hopes will tilt people towards cloud usage.
  7. iPad mini. A 7.85″ iPad seems likely to be released some time in the Fall. If thought of a smaller iPad turns you on, you may want to save yourself some trouble with some of the above issues and see if the iPad itself is available in a smaller form factor at a lower price.
  8. Kindle Fire 2. Nexus 7 out classes Kindle Fire v1, but v2 will most likely be competitive, simpler to operate and rotate itself around the Amazon ecosystem. If you read books and want some of this, you should wait a little longer to see what Amazon has up its sleeve in its next release before jumping to Nexus 7.
  9. Smaller Screen. It is harder to do anything and everything in a smaller space. Onscreen typing is less flexible and crowds out content viewing and user controls.   Any kind of onscreen manipulation, drawing, content creation is limited by the small screen. The 7″ screen on Nexus 7 is only half the size of the 10″ iPad.

Nexus 7 Tips

  1. Rearrange your Screen. When you first use your Nexus 7, it has a great big widget on the front screen holding your content library and featuring new items. You can delete or move that big widget to screen 2-5 so you have room for your favorite apps, folders and smaller widgets. Touch and hold an item to move it or drag up to delete it.
  2. Seeing Applications. The center of your dock has a circle with 6 square dots in it. Tap it to see your apps. There is a second tab at the top left that will show you all the widgets that come preinstalled. You can drag the apps to your front page. Apps arrange 6 across with 6 rows.
  3. Where is the Home button? Right down there at the bottom of the screen but not below the screen this time. Its a line-drawn little house in the middle. Left is a back arrow that can be handy. It just may behave a bit differently in different situations. On the right is a nice recent apps button.
  4. Widgets. Consider putting the Display Setting widget on your front screen. I put a 5 item widget on my front screen that lets me turn wi-fi and bluetooth on and off among other tricks.
  5. Optimize your Dock. The dock is available on any of the five screens so you will want your most used items there. I kept the Google apps folder on the left, but eliminated some of the Play stores and put Chrome, Zite and Instapaper on there.
  6. Taking Screenshots. Hold down the power and lower volume button for a moment to take a screenshot.
  7. Face Recognition is Fun but Erratic. Not as secure as assigning a password, but face recognition is pretty nifty. So I’m using it. It does require that you look at the screen exactly the same way to recognize you. If it can’t recognize you which will probably happen often, you then can drag through some dots on the screen in your own special way to get in.
  8. Swiftkey 3 Tablet Keyboard. This is an app but will improve the on-screen typing experience nicely. There are many hardcore Swiftkey fans. I just broke down and spent $4 of my $25 credit at the Play store today and really like it so far. Very well-regarded and phonedog.com assures us it is a lot better than the not too shabby smarts of the built-in Jelly Bean keyboard. I seem to be able to just type nonsense and Swiftkey corrects me.
  9. Launch the Front-facing CameraModaco Camera Launcher. Just in case you want to launch it and play with it. Otherwise, it is launched by specific apps.

Nexus 7 Apps for Knowledge Professionals

This is a handy, inexpensive mobile computer you have here. Part of the plan is to be able to do useful things when you aren’t using a more prodigious (and bulky) machine, so what can you do? I’m still learning and hunting around to find good apps, but there are quite a few good ones. A popular device like the Nexus 7 and the slick Jelly Bean version of Android is going to help things along in the coming months.

News & RSS Reading. Nexus 7 is almost perfect for reading and the best apps I’ve found so far for this are: Zite, Instapaper, Pocket, Readability, Feedly and Pulse. I love Zite so am glad it is here it is not quite as good as the iPhone version. I do look for it to improve, however.

Social. Flipboard is quite good and is another news reader along with its social attributes. Plume doesn’t hold a candle to Tweetbot but is useable (for Twitter), Google+, Currents, Facebook for Android. Skype – not great but works fine.

eReading. Kindle. Nook. Kobo. This is a great category. No iBooks, but you can’t have everything. The Google Play reader needs elaboration. Also, it seems Google Play purchased eBooks aren’t ePub or at least you can’t just drag them to your iOS device and use in iBooks. A silver lining here is that you can move these eBooks and use on other devices if you register an Adobe ID and get permission that way. Seems convoluted and I haven’t tried to jump through these hoops. I am not a big Adobe fan.

Chrome. There are other browsers on Android but this is where to start. If you like Chrome you will like this. And Chrome is a really good browser. Enjoy!

Utility & File Management. Dropbox, Google Drive, ES File Explorer, Airdroid, Wifi File Explorer, Wi-fi Finder.

Writing, Notes. I’m looking far and wide but coming up short. The best I can do so far is Evernote, which is good on Android but not as enjoyable to use for writing. I am toying with Catch which is #2 to Simplenote. I did buy and like Notational Acceleration which syncs with Simplenote and is free with ads or $2 without. What I’m lacking with any depth are plain text, dropbox text editors. I haven’t found one that I trust or like so far. Trying to use Evernote in the meantime. Very disappointed with my results. I will update this post the minute I find a decent note, writing app.

Outlining and Mindmapping. There seem to be several choices for mind mapping and not much at all for outlining. Looks like the still in beta: Outliner for Android is most promising for the latter. Mindjet for Android seems to be free. Still shopping here. I doubt you will be as happy as you are now with iThoughts HD, Carbon fin Outliner or Omni Outliner on iOS.

I’m still learning and will update this post to include more links, apps and tips as I find good stuff. This Nexus 7 is quite nice. I think I’ll keep it around and use it in lieu of Kindles of all stripes and as a lighter and more manageable iPad when I’m not craving an app like Thinkbook or iA Writer that just isn’t available on Android — yet! Now, when that iPad mini shows up assuming it does, I will likely abandon my Android adventure. The iPad mini will surely be a stunner! Apple won’t make one otherwise.

Recommended Link: gottabemobile: Top Nexus 7 Apps & Widgets

Related post: Nexus 7 vs. Kindle Fire 2 vs. iPad mini

Nexus 7 vs. Kindle Fire 2 vs. iPad mini

Updated Oct 23. My 16gb Nexus 7 is gathering dust. The Nexus specs are nice. The Kindle Fire HD 7 is a decent competitor to Nexus 7 for those who want content and simple not a full-function tablet. I have the old Kindle Fire but wanted a pure Android device so got the Nexus 7. Fire 2 didn’t and does not interest me because I don’t like the limitations but I’m a geek. Today’s new iPad mini with bigger 7.85 inch screen is the one to consider now.

The table above shows specs for the Nexus 7 and approximate specs for the Kindle Fire HD 7 and the iPad mini. As expected iPad mini is a narrow and light version of the iPad 2. The iPad mini wins on lightness, apps and hardware virtuosity. But the price starting at $329 is a lot higher than the comparably specced Nexus 7 16 gb at $249. I am fine paying $70 more to get better apps but I’m not sure you are. Knowledge professionals who like the Mac and iOS who are in the market for a smaller iPad that would replace a Kindle and a full-sized iPad should pay close attention to the Mini.

The Devices

TABLET MARKET TO DATE. Competitors to iPad have not had success with 10″ tablets. I attribute this most to their having to play catch up with their software. The three main iOS competitors Web OS, RIM Playbook and Android were rushed out the door with numerous bugs and interface issues. Any new device platform starts behind in apps. There were few apps available for these other tablets when released last year. RIM is on the rocks. Google-based Android is far from crying wolf. Kindle Fire’s Android variant has had moderate success.

NEXUS 7. I have an iPad 3 and a Kindle Fire and I still ordered one. It looks good and has killer specs and a great price point. The 8 gb version at $199 is the best deal if you can get by on the smaller storage. Most who expect to have the device for a length of time and want convenience will prefer the $249 16 gb version since there is no cellular connectivity allowing you to stream when outside a wifi network. Besides being fast, it runs the latest version of Android Jelly Bean and has some nice bells and whistles like bluetooth. The instant response and new Google Now in Jelly Bean add to the appeal of this device.

KINDLE FIRE HD 7. The Kindle Fire released last November was a break thru Android tablet due primarily to its price at $199. It is a 7″ device that does a creditable job as a tablet due to decent specs and a simplified Amazon user interface. Kindle Fire had good sales last Christmas probably helped by Amazon’s track record and fan base with their eInk Kindles and their excellent Amazon store. Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, is a geek which is a good thing. He plays big and Kindle Fire HD comes close to matching features with the Nexus 7. Your choice between the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD comes down to whether you want an all-purpose tablet like the Nexus 7 or a more focused tablet optimized around Amazon’s content offerings. The three negatives for me on the current Kindle Fire are the limited availability of apps and the dumbed down version of Android (4). As a geek, I want the latest Android OS more than I want a simplified interface. You may feel differently. One last point, right now you get twice the storage with the Fire HD vs. Nexus 7 for $200. But the Fire includes ads and requires $220 for the ad-free version.

IPAD MINI. From the beginning, many including myself, thought a smaller tablet would be appealing. Apple adamantly refused to build a smaller iPad and (Steve) said you would have to file your finger tips down to operate the buttons. It’s here now. The weight and size is going to be very appealing to anyone who compares it to an iPad 3 or 4. The price at $329 is too high to compete on price against the $249 similarly specced Nexus 7. However, anyone who trusts Apple and likes what they see in an iPad and its amazing app ecosystem might be smart to pay the premium to get the clear winner in the tablet space to date.

Comparisons

THICKNESS. iPad mini is 7.2 mm thick. The Nexus is 10.45 mm thick – 45% thicker. And the Fire HD is similar.

DIMENSIONS. The iPad mini is wider than the Nexus but actually slightly less wide than Fire HD. The iPad mini with a 7.85″ diagonal screen is 5.3″ wide and about 7.7″ tall. The Nexus is 4.7″ wide and 7.8″ tall. I could grab this iPad around the back at the waist and hold it with my moderately long woman’s fingers. But it would be close. I could certainly prop it up at the corner with one hand at the lighter weight and smaller size. But I would say, the Nexus wins the one hand holding contest. The iPad is a lot lighter due to its thinness (see above). All 3 will be easy to manuever relative to a full-sized iPad.

The narrow form of the Nexus is good for reading a single column of text like in Instapaper or a single column eBook. The wider iPad mini & Fire HD screens will be better for notebook like productivity kinds of things and a bit better for the web due to its width. The skinny form will be better for wide screen movies.

CONTENT. Amazon wins books easily over iBooks and devastates Nexus for now. The iPad wins easily in Music and with its Apple TV and ability to put the contents of the iPad up on your HD TV, it probably wins there too. Amazon comes in second easily in Movies, TV and Music with Nexus lagging pretty far behind. Amazon has their store together, there’s no doubt about that and they have this thing called Prime which is a nice mini-version of Netflix streaming.

APPs. This is your toolbox. And, iPad wins easily far and away with the quality and quantity of apps. This is a big deal for those who want some creativity, productivity and utility in their tablet, not just entertainment. Because developers have so far chosen the iOS platform by a great margin, you have to wait longer for the best apps to appear. Since your device can languish while you wait, it is an obsolescence issue too. Amazon’s first Fire didn’t really get that many creativity/productivity apps compared to the full Android Marketplace but I expect the Fire HD to do better. It’s just now there’s a fast, cheap full Android device running Jelly Bean to lure developers away from the Fire HD. But that’s why Amazon had to be competitive with this offering.

USER EXPERIENCE. The iPad has a large lead here against even the latest version of Android 4.1, Jelly Bean but the gap is closing somewhat. The Nexus 7 and its visionary designer, Matias Duarte, are emulating Jony Ive and Steve Jobs here and they are narrowing the gap. Recent reports suggest that Jelly Bean is considerably better this way than Ice Cream Sandwich. Fire hd will runs Ice Cream Sandwich with a makeover. Their simplified Amazon store-books-media experience which is OK if you are looking mostly for content.

WIFI – CELLULAR. Only iPad mini offers a cellular option. I like the wifi only options on all 3 devices. That means I can buy one. There’s no way I can have 3 cell phone plans. However, I am now on a Everything Verizon plan for my iPad 3 and iPhone 5 so adding the iPad mini will only cost $10/mo. If this is your first tablet, you may want that extra always on connectivity. It is a little ironic to use a web-oriented device like Android without cellular but it sure is cheaper and some folks like college students are often surrounded by wi-fi. Rumors have it that a cellular option for Nexus 7 is coming maybe to be announced on Oct 29 at the big Android event coming next week.

PRICE. Amazon Fire HD 7 has a slight lead here with a $199 16gb version but it does come with ads which cost an extra $20 to eliminate. The Nexus 7 $199 model is only 8gb which is slim pickins for a non-cellular device that is good at video. The much higher priced 16gb iPad mini is not closing the gap tight enough to appeal to the price sensitive. Apple is leaving quite a bit of room for Google and Amazon to grow their 7″ tablets into something more competitive with iPad.

RETINA NOT. I haven’t seen the iPad mini yet but apparently it does have an awesome screen that is not up to the retina in iPad 3 and 4 but probably easily matches the quality in the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. Also, the screen is better than the iPad 2 which is pretty nice in itself.

MY PLAN. Since I use a Macbook Air, iPad 3 and iPhone 5, I don’t need an iPad mini. However, the synergy is awesome and this iPad mini would eliminate the need to carry the Kindle Touch or Nexus 7. I will probably decide in the next couple of days what to do. If the iPad mini was $299, I would be all over it and keep my iPad 3 around. I would probably start carrying the mini everywhere and leave the iPad 3 at home.

Related Post. My Nexus 7 has been road tested. See my July 23 post for details: Nexus 7 Hands On: Pros, Cons, Tips and Apps.

Writing on Mac, iPad, iPhone – Best Apps

iPad, Macbook Air, iPhone 4 side by sideThese days people have two, three even four computers when you count smartphones and tablets. It helps a lot if the writing tools you have can roam freely between Mac, iPad and iPhone. Some apps I recommend work on all three which can be ideal. I’ll look at four different writing situations and the top app for each.

Besides app power, one must consider return on learning curve and whether or not an app has staying power. Evernote, for example,  recently acquired additional millions in  funding so can tick the staying power checkbox with an exclamation mark. Money isn’t everything, though. Nimble and innovative independent developers, like Marco Arment of Instapaper fame, have often beaten out much better endowed competitors.

As an independent knowledge professional, two things are critical:

  • You can’t do your work without Tools and Technology.
  • Time is short – Learning curves need to be kept in check.

Going Apple. By consolidating around Apple products right now, you save time on those infernal learning curves and position yourself for the future. With iPhone and iPad hitting the top customer satisfaction ratings year after year, it behooves you to choose them if you already have a Mac.  The trifecta of Mac-iPad-iPhone is the most streamlined, powerful, future-proof toolkit available.

iPad is Where the Action Is. I’ve been focusing on the iPad in this blog since the first iPad came out March 2010. Most posts are about iPad apps for knowledge professionals. The reason I focus here is that the iPad is changing the way we work. Knowledge professionals need to learn about this new kind of computer and what it can do for you.

These are early days. There are lots of apps and some are still getting better at a rapid rate. There are clear winners but victory is fleeting. Some apps have benefitted by being early but have lagged and can’t compete a year or two later. Newer entrants that took more time to make better apps or have leveraged the latest iOS, hardware and emerging ideas, have taken the lead in many cases. Writing Kit and Drafts are perfect examples.

Since I write software myself, albeit using FileMaker Pro (which does have an iPad and iPhone counterpart by the way), I focus on the software for iPad and iPhone.

Mac Still Matters. The Mac is part of the picture and Mac apps can be synergetic partners with iPad and iPhone apps. That’s Apple’s plan. Apple isn’t pushing the Mac so much as it is reinventing computing on all three of its platforms: Mac, iPad and iPhone.

The Cloud is the Glue. The fourth partner in the mix is the Cloud and iCloud. Dropbox has developed quite a following among iPhone and iPad users, especially for those who want to do a bit of real work on their mobile device(s). Since iOS has this quirk of not having a shared storage place on board (like the Finder on Mac), you can substitute the Dropbox cloud for that shared storage spot.

The couple of gigs Dropbox provides is enough for most document sharing schemes and you can get more by inviting friends or paying a few bucks. I have light concerns about security from hackers, lost laptops and government prying eyes but Dropbox is so handy that I use it anyway as needed – without overdoing it. By the way, I have least concerns about Apple than any other cloud provider which leads me to iCloud.

iCloud. The new Cloud on the block. The “it just works” thing about iCloud is completely addictive. I turned iCloud on in February and it has been working flawlessly for me. These are still early days, though, since most apps don’t support iCloud yet. Brooks Review just wrote a good piece on iCloud today.

Dropbox Does Have Advantages. The one issue with iCloud is it doesn’t allow for sharing data between apps. But Dropbox does. It takes a decent app to be programmed to allow you to use the same dropbox folder or all dropbox folders, but when it is, you can then avoid using many folders for similar kinds of things if you happen to be using three or so writing apps which is what I am going to recommend in a minute.

My Top Picks for Writing Apps

Four Kinds of Writing Apps. Writing is a big deal for a knowledge professionals and all writing is not alike. I recommend you have at least two writing apps and I use three. That doesn’t count some other Mac apps that come into play from time to time.

Drafts App iConCapturing Quick Notes. Right now the coolest capture app on iPhone is Drafts from Agile Tortoise. What makes it great for capture is that when you open the app, it instantly creates a new document, handles naming for you, and brings up the keyboard. If you have the iPhone 4S, you also get a microphone key that lets you dictate the note. Also, Drafts excels at getting your notes from Drafts to where you need them for a project. You can send your note on to email, the clipboard, Dropbox, Pages, Writing Kit, Elements, iA Writer, Byword, PlainText, WriteRoom, TaskPaper and more. Drafts is a great example of do one thing well and play well with others. This is a great new trend for apps on the iPad and iPhone. Drafts is not yet available on iPad, there you may want to go with your favorite distraction free text editor to get a speedy open for those important fleeting thoughts and notes. (Drafts 99¢ in the App store).

Distraction Free Pure Writing. Most of the best plain text editor writing apps these days offer a really good distraction free writing experience. The best experience is iA Writer, but there is competition here. Just know that iA Writer is super simple, clean and pristine with a truly great monospaced font. Also, iA Writer is available across the board on Mac ($8.99 in the Mac App Store), iPad and iPhone (iOS Universal app 99¢). That’s where you get the most mileage if all 3 apps are really good which is the case with iA Writer (iA stands for Information Architects and that’s what these people are). If you are willing to go down a notch in clean and simple but still want distraction reduction, try Byword. Byword is also available on Mac ($10), iPad and iPhone ($3) and it is more powerful and gives you some customization options in return for a wee bit of distraction.

Longer Document Online Writing. I just wrote about this option in my last piece on why you should be using Writing Kit for iPad and iPhone when you write. Writing Kit is a pleasure to use with some great typefaces, a wonderful extra keyboard row, built-in Duck Duck Go search and a browser plus deep integration with Instapaper and much more. Here’s where you can write your blog post, eBook or anything that will require a bit of onine research along the way. The only weaknesses here are that this is a full-on rig! Writing Kit gets out of your way, but its powerful tools at your fingertips aren’t going to provide quite the pristine zen-like experience of an iA Writer. However, what you get in return is sheer efficiency with a lot less time lost to interminable app-switching. ($5 for both iPad/iPhone).

Word Processing. I seem to avoid this category more often than not, but you may either have a long-term love affair with Microsoft Office, have to live with it due to company policy, or just want a real word processor for your writing needs. If so and you have a choice, you should start with Pages which is available for $20 on Mac and $10 for the universal app for iPad and iPhone. Pages has great iCloud document handling which will get even better in Mountain Lion (right now the Mac is lagging iOS relative to iCloud and you have to actually download things yourself from iCloud when on a Mac. I also highly recommend Keynote at the same prices as an amazing all-purpose creation app that will do graphics, outlining, presentation-creation and animation. It’s not strictly a writing app but you sure will find it handy and it does work with all 3 of the holy trinity.

One Last Thing to Look Forward to. I’m a sucker for index cards as an organizing tool and really think Scrivener on Mac rocks. It’s available on Windows too. Scrivener on Mac is so hot that I am willing to hold out a lot of hope for what we will see when they release their iPad and iPhone versions of Scrivener. Beware of vaporware, folks but this could be really good. Meanwhile, these various writing apps are so good that I would never wait before meeting my needs now with what is real and available on iPad and iPhone. Happy writing!

Writing Kit is the best Writing App for iPad Right Now

The New Writing Requires New Tools

Writing, INKNOP-style. This blog is all about tools for independent knowledge professionals. If you are an INKNOP, as my friend, Mike Van Horn, likes to call us, you are running your own business. Among other things you need to market yourself. I consider blogging and eBook writing the two best ways to do your marketing, so I blog and tweet a lot about writing tools.

The reason this makes so much sense for a knowledge professional is that you are in the know in your specialty and you can show off that knowledge, help people and gain fans, even sales by sharing some of that precious knowledge you have in your head.

Researching while Writing. Since I’m in the technology field, my knowledge is deep but the playing field, players and tools are constantly on the move. It is rare that I don’t need to do some research in order to write a decent blog post. Since the whole world seems to be changing out from under us, you too might need to do some research when you write.

Writing is Changing. That brings us to Writing Kit for iPad (and iPhone/iPod Touch). As I’ve mentioned previously, writing itself is changing. Paper is no longer the primary output. Email has been king and still dominates. PDFs get sent around. People blog, tweet and lately lots of people are writing eBooks. It’s pretty wild. Word Processors still sometimes apply and some may never give up their love affair with Microsoft Word. But we are moving on.

Online All the Time. We live in a net-connected world. We work online a lot now and Writing Kit is designed for the online writer.

Laptops in Coffee Shops. We have moved from sitting at a desk to do our writing to just sitting somewhere. First with laptops that allow you to move around the house or go down to your local coffee house to write and research online.

Now iPads and iPhones. Now there is this big surge towards even thinner, lighter, smaller devices that fit us even better. The iPad is the brand new writing tool that is starting to take hold – and replace laptops for writing and research.

Writing Kit is designed for this new world and explicitly designed for the iPad. The iPad is big compared to an iPhone but small compared to the typical laptop. You operate the iPad with your fingers which means controls need to be bigger so you don’t really have room for multiple windows like you do on a laptop.

One App, Many Apps. This lack of screen real estate on iPad gives the advantage to a single multipurpose app for writing and online research. In this single-tasking, smaller screen, apps need to have mini-apps within or temporarily handoff tasks to other apps which can politely work with them.

Writing Kit is Leading the Way. The maker of Writing Kit figured this out faster than many others and has built this awesome app for what we need in our new world. The feature set is truly killer.

Killer Features:

  • Built-in Web Browser which uses Readability
  • Built-in Search (DuckDuckGo)
  • Deep integration with Instapaper
  • A URL Queue for saving links
  • Markdown to write easy, non-distracting shorthand HTML in your documents.
  • A great Markdown cheat sheet built-in
  • A really nice scrolling extra keyboard row
  • Gesture control of the cursor and indenting.
  • Outline navigation
  • Great monospaced fonts like Anonymous Pro, Inconsolata and Droid Sans Mono.
  • Terminology integration (cool dictionary and more)
  • A giant list of Open in… Apps
  • Dropbox, Text Expander, etc. of course

True, you may not always be writing and researching. maybe you can get by with iA Writer or Byline or another less powerful tool. But I recommend you hang out in Writing Kit a lot when writing on your iPad. It is more fun to bring iPad with or without a Bluetooth keyboard when out and about. Compared to the alternative of a laptop. Writing Kit does very well with an external keyboard in case you doubted it.

One man show, Anh Quang Do. Be afraid! Be very afraid. He is an amazing developer! And he writes so you get good documentation othrow to use the app. Check out his blog here. Other larger text writing app firms will catch on – one would think. So I’m hoping some judicious hiring is in the works. I have no complaints at all with how fast the features are rolling out, though. A big new 3.0 release came out in February and I wouldn’t be surprised by a 4.0 release in May or June.

You can buy Writing Kit for iPad and iPhone/iPod touch for $4.99. A great, great deal. If you like this post, you may want to check out: Writing on the iPad: Top Dropbox Text Editors. I continue my thinking about writing in my next post: Writing on Mac, iPad, iPhone – Best Apps. There are a couple more nice writing apps to include in your toolkit.