Byword for iOS, Review and Screencast

While I understand you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting another iOS markdown text editor, today there is a new contender, Byword (App Store). I’m so pleased to finally be able to talk publicly about Byword on the iPad. I’ve been using it for months as it went through its various beta iterations and I think the final release is fantastic.

You may be familiar with Byword on the Mac. It is a rock solid simple text editor. I rely upon Byword for most writing projects on my Mac that don’t require Scrivener’s research and planning tools. I fell in love with this App immediately with its minimal interface and “just right” number of options. It makes writing markdown a snap and the app displays markdown intelligently, graying out markdown syntax while leaving your content text dark, which makes proofreading a breeze. Indeed, I would attribute my failure to fully embrace applications like BBedit to Byword’s low friction writing environment perfect markdown and simple HTML. Likewise, Byword will generate HTML to a file or your clipboard from your markdown text, which makes moving your words to the web incredibly simple.

Byword for iOS is a universal app that runs on both the iPhone and the iPad. It features iCloud syncing and it works great. Start writing a text document on your iPad, and iCloud seamlessly sends it over to your iPhone without delay or pain. I’ve used a lot of different syncing services over the years. Byword uses iCloud exactly the way it was intended and it is something special. I can keep the application open on both my iPad and my iPhone and quite literally watch the words appear on my iPhone just minutes after I type them in my iPad. I’m not required to close the app or worry about any conflicts. In the months I’ve been using the beta, I’ve never had a single conflict.

The iOS interface also reflects a lot of thought by the developers. Like its Mac counterpart, iOS Byword nails that fine line between useful and fiddly with features and options. While the Mac version includes support for keyboard shortcuts, the iOS version adds a row buttons across the top of the screen that displays the word count. Swipping the word count to the left, you get an additional row of buttons with the most used syntax for writing markdown. Swiping this row again displays buttons for headings, links, image links, and bulleted lists. It’s all very seamless and if you write in markdown, you’re going to love it.

The application also supports local storage and Dropbox. While there still are things where Dropbox is best, syncing text in this fashion is not one of them.

To exit edit mode you to swipe from the left side of the screen. The application settings include options to export to HTML and e-mail along with an option to copy the existing text in its HTML format for pasting somewhere else. This is great for bloggers on the road. There are a few monospace and proportional fonts to choose from and options for auto capitalization, auto correction, spell checking, and (of course) TextExpander support. I created a short Screencast showing off Byword for iOS at the end of this post.

The iOS application is currently $3 but the price will raise to $5 so get your copy now.

Byword for the Mac also got an update. The update adds just a few feature requests including text zoom (which I really appreciate), auto completion, and support for the latest and greatest multimarkdown. The headliner with this update is iCloud support on the Mac. You can move any any existing or new Byword text file to your iCloud storage and it immediately shows up on your iPad and iPhone. The circle is complete.

Byword is the app I use for active writing documents. While iCloud feels like it has been a long time coming, I am really pleased with its performance in Byword. Below is a short screencast showing it off.

iOS Byword Introduction from David Sparks on Vimeo.