The developer, PT Software Solutions, offers no explanation of the name change. Except to say that My Writing Nook has ‘outgrown’ its original name.
The new icon is on the right.
If so, TextExpander is not the app for you.
But if you’re one of the 99.9 percent of people who hate doing those things, TextExpander is an absolute must.
TextExpander works simply, but the end result is very powerful. The app monitors your keystrokes inside other apps that support it. Then it compares what you’re typing to the keystroke combinations stored in its database. These keystroke combinations are called Snippets. There are thousands of predefined Snippets and it’s easy to add your own.
When TextExpander recognises a keystroke combination you’ve typed, it replaces it with the relevant Snippet, which could be the correct spelling of a word you always misspell, an email signature, or an email or web address. Snippets can be only a letter long or go on for paragraphs. After making the substitution, TextExpander beeps to let you know. You can change or turn off this beep if you like.
TextExpander can save you literally hours of typing and editing. It’s an app that’s valuable the moment you choose to install the predefined Snippets and it only gets more valuable over time as you customise it to your writing style by adding Snippets of your own.
TextExpander works on the iPad, iPod touch, and there’s a version for the Mac as well. All these versions can sync wirelessly with each other, so if you add new Snippets to one of your devices, you can easily update the others.
If you’re at all serious about writing on your iPhone, you need TextExpander.
So why have I starting blogging about writing on my iPhone?
Why should anyone even attempt to write on an iPhone at all?
The (rather blurry) photo on the right shows why.
It’s my writing kit, circa October 2010: a MP-0118+ Bluetooth keyboard (inside the black pouch) and an iPhone 3GS.
The whole package fits into the palm of my hand and weighs an incredible 341g (12 ounces). Only a notepad and pen can match an iPhone for sheer writing portability. But an iPhone, depending on the apps you use, can be a full-featured word processor and much, much more.
I use My Writing Nook, a word processing app that saves documents to the phone’s memory without being prompted and backs them up into the Cloud. This means I’ll never lose my documents, even if I lose my phone, and I can access them from any computer. Email backup, for extra peace of mind, is available at the touch of a button. My Writing Nook has a built-in dictionary and thesaurus, and works with a second app – TextExpander – to give me full autocorrect and spell checking on the fly. This is what you’d expect from a word processing program, such as Word, on a laptop or desktop computer. But while Microsoft Office will currently set you back nearly US$300, My Writing Nook is only US$3.99 and TextExpander US$5.99.
I’ll be straight with you; the MP-0118+ Bluetooth Keyboard is not the fastest keyboard I’ve ever used. To achieve its tiny size, it lacks a designated number and punctuation key row. This means a lot of incorrect keystrokes and hunting and pecking, especially in the beginning. But after five minutes, I was touch typing away on it quite happily. Even the most awkward Bluetooth keyboard is about ten times quicker than using the iPhone’s on-screen keyboard.
Of course, writers need more than just a word processor, and the iPhone can help you there too. If you need to research what you’re writing, the World Wide Web is only a press of the Home button away. You can send and receive emails, listen to music, illustrate your work with photos taken by the camera, or doodles from any one of the hundreds of graphical apps. There are apps for blogging, and recording and editing sound and video for uploading to your blog.
In short, an iPhone can be a useful, portable and inexpensive tool for writers. I’ll be using this blog to explore how I get the most out of my iPhone, especially in terms of getting text in and out, and how you can too.