Writing on my IPod

I’ve always wanted a way to take my writing with me to work on while I’m waiting to pick up Gaaron from school, or when I’m on the way to the in-law’s house for dinner or birthdays, and though the Mini is…well, mini, it’s just not practical to take on short little trips like this. It takes a long time to load up, and, (I know this is probably going to sound strange) I’m paranoid about people looking over my shoulder while I’m writing. I don’t like anyone reading over my shoulder–and I do mean anyone–and the screen on the Mini is still large enough that people sitting next to me on a plane can easily see what I’m doing. I’ve kind of chalked this up as an acceptable risk, though on the way to Montreal last summer it resulted in having to talk to the people I was sitting next to because they wanted to know all about being a writer rather than getting to do much actual writing. Oh the horror! Having to actually be social with complete strangers! Yep, I don’t like talking to people I don’t know and will not know because it’s a chance meeting on an airplane. I’m not a social butterfly like my mom who will strike up conversations with anyone, anywhere, at any time. That’s just me.

So this summer, Jeff bought me an IPod Touch for my birthday, and up until yesterday I was using it primarily to listen to music and audio books, and to play games like Bookworm, Sudoku, and Bejeweled. I never even considered that it would be useful for actual writing. Then I got an email advertisement from Dropbox talking about all the cool Apps available that let you use their product on your mobile device. I’m a fan of Dropbox so I decided to read the ad rather than delete it, like I do with most advertisements. One particular app caught my eye, one called QuickOffice, touted as “a mobile office tool with great Microsoft Office file editing.” Now I’m all ears, and I get very excited that it’s available for the IPod Touch, and I get even more excited when I see that it’s only $10, half-price. How cool is that? So I downloaded the app and installed it, and though it took a little while and some reading to finally figure out how to work the thing, soon I had my latest novel document open on my IPod and I was writing.

Some observations about the app:

  • Some folks are saying that it doesn’t work with PowerPoint even though the website claims it does, but that doesn’t matter to me since I don’t use PP. It does work with Excel and Word documents, including .docx versions (I personally use .doc for 2004, since that seems to be the least buggy version). It also doesn’t appear to support RTF (or at least it’s not listed in the supported file extensions list…), but does support straight-up .txt. It will open PDF’s too.
  • The word processor is very basic, but you can italicize and underline, justify and add a tab at the beginning of paragraphs. It will also search for text, copy and paste, and has a word counter. It also wraps the text so you don’t ever have to scroll sideways to see what you’re doing.
  • There isn’t any button to take you to the end of a document, nor will it start you where you were at last save should you close the document. However it does stay where you were if you merely put the device into sleep mode and come back to it later, or use the Home button to go do something else. So long as you keep the file open, it remembers your place. The search function is pretty good though, so I think if I want to save a file and close it, I’m going to start putting keywords where I left off so I can use the search function to get to where I was the next time.
  • You can use a file storage service like DropBox or MobileMe or Google Documents with it, or you can directly upload files to your mobile device via your web browser or by docking your device to your computer as a drive.

This isn’t something I’d want to use in place of my computer for daily writing, but having spent most of the afternoon acquainting myself with the program and learning to type with my thumbs, it will definitely be useful on airplanes and in the car, where space is limited. Definitely worth the $10 I spent on it.

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