iCloud and iPhone Writing

iCloudHow will iOS5 and Lion change iPhone writing? One word: iCloud, due out in Fall in the Northern Hemisphere.


iCloud is the new Cloud-based back up system for Apple devices. It means iPhone and iPad writers will no longer need to connect to a laptop or desktop computer to back up their documents. All documents will wirelessly and automatically upload to iCloud.


iCloud is accessible to all a user’s devices. Write a chapter on your iPhone and you’ll find it on your iPad ready to be edited.


Using the Cloud as back up is nothing new. My Writing Spot app (name changed from My Writing Nook) uses Google Docs to backup. But iCloud will give you five gig of free space compared to the one gig supplied by Google Docs and backup is automatic and in the background. My Writing Spot only backs up when you tap the back up button.


Currently only Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps use iCloud. But Apple has released iCloud storage APIs so other developers can put iCloud functionality into their apps.


iCloud will also back up email, photos, music, apps and iBooks.


New Stand!

Exciting New Stand!

Want an iPhone stand that’s really stable?

I’ve found one.

Nothing can shift this baby. Of course, it’s a little heavy in the handbag at nearly 3kg, but for a truly secure stand, this is the way to go.

It comes in a range of earthy colours, to go with any kind of iPhone cover.

Available free from any garden, but be prepared to run in case the garden owner sees you.

Edit: Uh, what day is it?

Notebooks Icon


Notebooks Icon

Update 20 March 2011: As of Notebooks version 4.1.1 you can now print from directly inside the app. A EuroSmartz printing app isn’t required. The new version also has Markdown formatting, support for lists, additional editable file types, additional fonts and you can convert a plain text document to PDF.

Writers get their ideas from many places. A jotted down lyric, an image-heavy web page or a carefully researched PDF can be the inspiration for tomorrow’s article or next year’s novel.

But no matter how good the idea, if you don’t write it down, you’re sure to forget.

What writers need is a way of storing and organising their ideas, the files that inspired them, and the resulting notes and drafts.

On the Mac, Scrivener is the solution. It can store, play and organize anything: text, image files, web pages, PDFs, sound files, and even video files.

Now iPhone users have an app that can do nearly everything that Scrivener can do. If you have Dropbox installed, it can even exchange data with Scrivener.

The app is Notebooks and it’s the perfect digital scrapbook and word processor for your iPhone or iPad.

Is there anything Notebooks cannot do? You can use it to scribble down ideas, or write entire drafts. It saves as you go without having to be told and integrates with the TextExpander app for automatic spelling correction. For ease of screen reading, there’s a choice of seventy fonts and you can vary the font size with the slide of a bar. You can write in both landscape and portrait orientations, with a Bluetooth keyboard or the on-screen keyboard.

If you have one of EuroSmartz printing apps installed, you can print directly from Notebooks.

Notebooks can be your daily journal. It can list tasks and notify you when they are due. It can take and store photographs from the camera, and store audio files, PDFs, Microsoft Office files and iWork files (though you cannot as yet edit them.)

You can organise your files in Books, which are folders that can be nested inside each other.

Most importantly, Notebooks integrates seamlessly with Dropbox, so you can pick up or drop off any type of file. As Scrivener version 2.0 also integrates with Dropbox, you can keep text files on Scrivener that can also be accessed and edited from your iPhone using Notebooks.

Notebooks has far more features than I could mention. To give you an idea of how much this app can do, the PDF handbook is 42 pages long.

Notebooks is $7.99 on iTunes. If you want to write on your iPhone, get Notebooks now, you won’t regret it.

Autocorrect gets it wrong

Turning Off Auto-correction

Have you ever been happily writing away and watched in horror while your iPhone’s auto-correction feature changed the word you’d just written into something you’d never intended?

You’re not alone. Indeed, there’s a whole website devoted to the embarrassing changes made by auto-correction. Warning: many of auto-correction’s changes are not safe for work!

Damn you, Autocorrect!

If you want to end your auto-correction frustration and embarrassment, here’s how:

Tap on Settings.


Then tap on General.



Then tap on Keyboard.



Then turn auto-correction off.


iPhone Tripod and Apple Wireless Keyboard

iPhone Writing Ergonomics

iPhone Tripod and Apple Wireless KeyboardHow can you stay productive for longer and avoid repetitive strain injury while writing on your iPhone?

The answer is ergonomics: the process of designing or arranging workspaces so that they fit the people who use them (Ergonomics in Australia 2011).

Ergonomics is usually applied to full-sized computer work stations but can be just as easily applied to writing on your iPhone. When you’re sitting down to write, make sure you do the following things:

1. Sit upright in your chair. Make sure your hips are as far back as they can go and your back is against the back rest.

2. Adjust your chair until your feet are flat on the floor, and your knees are the same height as your hips.

3. Adjust or get rid of your armrests, if they’re in the way.

4. Position your keyboard close and directly in front of you. Your shoulders should be relaxed and your wrists and hands straight.

5. When you’re writing on your iPhone, it’s tempting to use a folding Bluetooth keyboard for maximum portability. But folding keyboards usually lack an ergonomic tilt, and have small, cramped keys in awkward positions. For long-term productivity and comfort, use a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard.

6. Your iPhone needs to be centred in front of you and at eye-level. If you rest it flat on the table, your neck and eyes will start to ache. Buy an inexpensive tripod stand ($5 from eBay) and you will be amazed at the difference it makes to your comfort and productivity.

7. Minimise glare by positioning your iPhone at right angles to windows. The tripod stand makes it easy to adjust your iPhone’s position.

8. Take frequent breaks. Stretch and look away from the screen every twenty to thirty minutes. Once every hour, stash your iPhone, tripod stand and keyboard in your bag and go for a five minute walk.


Ergonomics in Australia 2011, Victoria, Australia, viewed 11 February 2011, http://www.ergonomics.com.au.

Gorilla iPhone Stand

iPod Touch Writing

This post is a response to an email sent by a reader.

Chronically ill, she spends a lot of time on a recliner writing and surfing the web, but her 17 inch laptop is too heavy to keep on her lap.

She’s thinking about getting an iPad to write on, but she also wants to know if she’d be just as happy writing on her iPod Touch instead.

I replied:

Sorry to hear that you’re sick. Writing is such a good way to be productive when you’re too unwell to do anything else.

I think you could be just as happy with a Bluetooth Keyboard and your iPod Touch. But first, I need to check a few things with you.

How old is your iPod Touch? If it can run iOS4 you’re good to go. It means you can use all the latest word processing apps and connect to a Bluetooth keyboard too.

Do you already own a Bluetooth keyboard? (You mention “the Bluetooth keyboard” in your email, so it sounds like you’ve already got one.)

If you don’t have a Bluetooth keyboard, I recommend the Apple Wireless Keyboard. It’s cheap (only $100 or so new) and extremely comfortable and light. It works beautifully with Mac devices running iOS4 and with laptops as well. This means even if you decide not to write on your iPod Touch, the keyboard isn’t wasted. You can put your heavy laptop onto a nearby table and write on it using the feather-light Apple Wireless Keyboard on your lap.

If you want to write on your iPod Touch, I recommend starting out with a free app. The Mail app is built into the iPod Touch. Just do your writing in an email and email it to your laptop when you’re finished.

If you enjoy that, get yourself a tripod for your iPod Touch so you can write more ergonomically. This extendable tripod only costs about $6 from eBay:

iPhone Tripod Stand

Tripod stand - try searching eBay for "iPhone tripod"

It will be useful if you want to put your iPod Touch on a nearby table at eye level. You can balance it on your recliner too (I use it on my bed) but you’ll have to hold it steady each time you move.

If you want to attach your iPod Touch to your recliner, you might want to try a Gorilla-style tripod such as this one:

Gorilla iPhone Stand

Gorilla iPhone stand - try searching eBay for "Gorilla iPhone stand"

The flexible legs can wrap around the arms of your recliner and hold your iPod Touch steady.

The next step in iPod Touch writing would be purchasing the TextExpander app for autocorrection as you type. You could also buy a word processing app. There are hundreds available. I recommend My Writing Spot or Notebooks if you don’t use formatting such as italics or bolding in your writing. If you use formatting, Doc2 is an inexpensive, but fully featured app.

So there you are. I hope that answered your questions. If you have any more, please don’t hesitate to ask.





Twitter: iPhoneWriting

Write a Letter to Santa

Write a Letter to Santa

Write a Letter to SantaWrite a Letter to Santa app allows younger children (and adults if that’s your thing!) to send Santa a festive drawing.

Older children can sent Santa a letter that lists what they want for Christmas.

Sending the letter or the drawing leads to an animation of Santa’s reply.

The app remembers the letter so that Santa and parents can view the present list afterwards.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Charl at iPhone Writing!

MP-0118+ Bluetooth Keyboard

iPhone Writer Questions

MP-0118+ Bluetooth Keyboard

The MP-0118+ folding Bluetooth keyboard

Do you write using your iPhone? Do you want to appear on iPhonewriting.com?

If so, please fill in these questions and email your answer to Charl.

Who are you? Please give a brief bio, including your web page so I can link to it.

Why did you start writing on your iPhone?

What do you use to write on your iPhone? A Bluetooth keyboard? The on-screen keyboard? What apps do you use? How do you get text on and off your iPhone?

Has the way you write on your iPhone changed over time? e.g. did you start out using one app but switched to a better one?

Where do you write on your iPhone? At home? At work? While you’re commuting?

Do you know anyone else who writes on his or her iPhone and do you keep in touch?

Would you recommend writing on your iPhone to others?

Do you have anything else you’d like to add?

Apple Wireless Keyboard Close Up

iPhone Keyboard Shortcuts

Apple Wireless Keyboard Close UpThese work on a Bluetooth keyboard with an iPhone.

If you’re not using an Apple Wireless Keyboard, you’ll need to experiment to see which keys you should be using.

Most probably, Cmd or Ctrl will replace Apple/Cmd, and the Alt key will replace Alt/Option.

If you know any other iPhone keyboard shortcuts, please comment!

Please also note, if you hold down the Shift key for any of the commands below, you’ll select the text in between the current position of your cursor and the position the cursor will go.

Apple/Cmd + Right Arrow – Go to the end of the line of text

Apple/Cmd + Left Arrow – Go to the beginning of the line of text

Apple/Cmd + Up Arrow – Go to the beginning of the document

Apple/Cmd + Down Arrow – Go to the end of the document

Alt/Option + Right Arrow – Go to the next word on the right

Alt/Option + Left Arrow – Go to the next word on the left

Alt/Option + Delete – Delete the word on the left