If you’re tech-savvy and a serious writer, chances are you already know about Scrivener. The popular writing app has been available on OS X and Windows for years now. And now, it is available on iOS for $19.99 as well. Scrivener is a flexible and powerful writing app that makes it easier to write long-form stuff — think about it as a sort of writing studio.
Based on early reviews, most of the features of the desktop version have been ported to iOS. An app like this makes more sense on an iPad, but it also runs fine on an iPhone.
It’s hard to explain why using Scrivener makes sense, but if you’ve tried writing a novel in Word, you know it can be a painful experience.
There are three key features that make Scrivener a good tool to start from scratch and write a first draft. First, you can break down your manuscript in as many pieces of text as you want. It makes it easier to outline chapters, break down your novel into tiny parts that you can later move around and write using the rich-text editor.
Second, Scrivener allows you to collect all sorts of notes and resources to help you keep track of what you’re doing. For instance, you can collect images or write character descriptions so that you know where you’re heading once you sit down and write a chapter.
Third, Scrivener allows you to compile your draft into many different formats. At any step of the process, you can turn your busy project into a single Word document, Kindle eBook, PDF and more.
While the exporting feature isn’t as powerful on iOS as on OS X, the ability to sync your project back and forth between your iPhone, iPad and Mac using Dropbox makes it quite convenient. I can see myself writing down quick notes on my iPhone right into my Scrivener project.
And many writers also like to use their iPad for serious writing now. It’s a focused, portable environment. You can write for hours without having to worry about battery life.
If Markdown is your thing, I’ve been using Ulysses for all my writing for a few months now (I’m writing this post in Ulysses) — it’s a very solid app on both iOS and OS X. I launch Ulysses on my iPhone, iPad and Mac depending on the context. And it’s the exact same app on all these platforms.
Now, Scrivener users will be able to do the same thing and write books, essays, TV scripts and more on multiple devices without having to think about it. I don’t think these two apps are targeting the same audience and it’s good to see that there are now multiple options for writers out there.
More generally, iOS needs professional, expensive and well-maintained apps like Scrivener and Ulysses. I want to be able to use my phone for all my professional work now that my phone is nearly as powerful as my computer. And I’m sure many people now feel the same way.