Opportunity through Constraint, Looking at iA Writer’s Keyboard

I kind of tried avoiding the iPad app iA Writer right after the release as I read tons of blog posts about it. At the time I wasn’t sure if people were mentioning it because they’ve actually used it, or if they were pushing it due to personality. There’s been a bit of time since the initial release and I’ve started using it. Last week while on the LIRR heading out of the city with a couple people from Behavior, Chris Fahey showed me iA Writer going through a number of the features. Up until that point most of the blog posts I had read talked about aesthetics, not functionality. Maybe the hype was warranted because this app is all that I’m going to be using to make notes and possibly rough drafts for blog posts. (This is the second post that I’ve used this app for).

The small things that play a big part for me include knowing how much time a post could be read in and the Dropbox integration. The typeface used is also pretty great in readability and size. However the reason for the post isn’t so much for those features but for the additional row that has been designed for the keyboard.

A. This advances the cursor forward or behind single words.

B. Open and close parenthesis, press once to open and press again to close.

C. Cursor movement, this button is worth the full price alone. Instead of using the delete key or finger tap, this button moves back or forward one tap at a time. If WordPress ever comes out with an iPad app it better have this feature.

Those three simple keyboard features are extremely helpful but it also sheds light on part of the design process that a lot of design people miss or take for granted. Most people would look at the default iPad keyboard and leave it as is. Sure there’s technical constraints but they looked at the keyboard harder and figured out a way to build off of the constraints. Adding a new row gave the app the killer feature that no other note taking app has (as far as I’ve seen). I know as I continue to design I’m going to file this small but important idea of building off of constraints as opposed to just taking some things for granted.

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  • Andrew

    But what’s it like to use?

  • http://designnotes.info/ michaelsurtees

    So far so good—no complaints yet and it will def. be my default for taking notes. Hopefully there’s an iPhone version coming out at some point.

  • Anonymous

    “Cursor movement, this button is worth the full price alone.”
    Absolutely. Would love for this to be system-wide.