UXWrite a deluxe word processor.

Microsoft will announce the new upcoming Office 2013 soon. It is also rumoured that given the new "tablet" direction Microsoft is taking, there might be a mobile version of Office. However having said that, given all the "Word" compatible apps out there, are they any good?

We are looking at UXWrite, a recently released app that helps write on your iOS devices. This is a universal app that will work on both the iPhone/iPod and the iPad devices. One thing that all will agree to, if you are use an iOS device for writing is that the iPhones/iPods are not really suited for writing and the iPads can become enabled if you have a physical keyboard. However the added weight of a Bluetooth or a docking keyboard makes it non portable for many.

Daniel Hooper, demonstrated a video a while ago where he added a new way to navigate on an iPad where simple mouse gestures would move the mouse cursor. This made text-editing so simple and natural like most of the Apple interfaces but still a feature that is not present in the base iOS.

Enter Peter Kelly from Adelaide University (yes, he is Australian) He was pursuing his PhD and while researching and amongst other things Academia where he was sir write-a-lot, he constantly hit a brick wall. The variety of softwares available for writing on the desktop were brilliant, but the call of the Apple magical device did not really facilitate this. So out of the inspiration from the Daniel Hooper Video and the personal experiences came his fruits of labour, UXWrite. A versatile word processor that help to write on the iOS devices.

The features of UXWrite are

Many offices that use Word or similar word-processors are blissfully unaware of styles. Thereby this is a feature that is mostly obscure in many other products. However for UXWrite, this is a prominent feature as it helps to avoid formatting portions of text. Just define a style and apply it to a selection of text. If it is updated, it just updates all of the text with that style.

When writing a document, it could help to organise the structure of the document in bullet points of an outline of what it would look like. With UXWrite, outlines can be created by assigning styles to the text. So you can have headings and sub-headings by simply setting the styles of Heading1, Heading2 and so on.

The numbering of the topics in the outline are automatically updated without having to bother about the same. Then this entire reference table can be added to the document as a TOC or a cross-reference table.

File Synchronisation
The best part of UXWrite is that it integrates synching of the files with a Desktop or other iOS devices easy via DropBox or any other WebDAV based server. No manual pushing buttons to perform synchronisation. (given that you have network connectivity)

Custom Keyboard
The features that Daniel Hooper suggested and also seen in Codea are seen in UXWrite too, with a custom addition to the iOS on screen keyboard, that has an extra row of keys that offer navigation, selection and formatting. The commonly used keys, like the brackets, colon, semi-colon, single quotes and double quotes. When the format option is chosen, this changes to Bold, Italics, Underline and bullets.

Fie Export
UXwrite integrates with the wireless printing functionality, which means if you have a wireless enabled Airplay compatible printer (like my trustworthy HP P1102w, cheap and reliable) you can print easily. If you want, you can also export it to a PDF format and/or email it to someone.

Automatic Reflow
Just like the iBooks, the data is separted from the presentation. The text is adjusted based on the text layout and the orientation. So while you can edit the document on any iOS device, it will adapt to the screen resolution without much of an issue.

The first impression when UXWrite is started were of "What Microsoft Word should have been" (if they had an iOS version) The custom keyboard is quite handy and helps access those symbols that are used regularly while typing. It is understandable that the Mobile on-screen keyboards were made to facilitate. It was an evolution from the Physical keyboards on mobile phones where you had to press the 7 about three times to get "r". However now that we are so used to the full fledged keyboards, swapping between abc and 123 to switch the key sets and then to get the symbols is quite a task. The best keyboard that I have found till date is on the Kindle Fire on-screen keyboard, that brings up an additional row of the commonly used characters like
without swapping or changing keyboards.

The Good
The outline and styles features are a life saver, they provide for a structures access to the document and also act as jump points, so you could be anywhere in the document and can jump to a particular point without having to create bookmarks. The additional selection and movement functionality offered on the keyboard is useful.

The Bad
This is more of a personal opinion, while the iPad has a faster processor (not the new iPad) UXWrite seems to suffer for a sort of lag. This could be because of the on-screen keyboard, it could be due to the fact that the text has to be formatted and re-organised every time a keystroke occurs. The bottomline, it does provide a bit of a visual dampener, where when the text lags behind, you are forced to slow down for it to catch up.
There are a few times when applying a style to a text selection is not possible or problematic, this could again stem from some code that might rely on regex for the transforms. The reason being that the selected text had a question mark at the end and no style could be applied to this selected text.

The Ugly
There is nothing Ugly about UXWrite, these little issues are hardly a spanner in the work. The app works and delivers exactly what it promises, in fact because this is the early version and Peter who was an Academic at the Adelaide University has taken a break from Academia to start his own venture UX Productivity, you can be assured that UXWrite shall have a lot of features coming it's way (based on feedback).

Software : UXWrite
Version : 1.0
Publisher : UX Productivity Pty Ltd
Website : http://www.uxproductivity.com/
Twitter : @uxproductivity
Platform : iOS 5.1 or later
Price : $14.99
iTunes Store : http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ux-write/id538278306?mt=8

NOTE: There is no promo code on offer for UX Write.

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