One of the things I use all the time on my iOS devices — and, in fact, strongly value — are text editors. As a platform, it’s hard to beat it for writing. Android has made some great progress recently, and I get really excited every time I see another text editor in the Play Store. That’s why I couldn’t wait to try out JotterPad X.
JotterPad is highly functional and is a sheer pleasure to look at, but the question remains: should you use it? Read on to find out if JotterPad X is right for you.
A Minimalist Interface
Minimalism is a hard thing to achieve for most developers. It’s not just difficult to find a great minimalist app on Android, but it’s difficult on iOS too. These apps take a lot of time to develop, and it’s a lot easier to add a button than it is to remove one without sacrificing functionality.
This is what makes JotterPad X a worthwhile tool in itself. The goal of a great text editor should be to keep the focus on your content. With JotterPad X, the developers have struck up a balance of customizable features and a focus on content.
On both the phone and the tablet, it’s easy to select different viewing methods based on Presets. So if you want to make the document you’re writing look like a magazine, you can. There are presets for Magazine, Novel, Poem, Lyrics, and even Essay. The typography has been carefully selected for each one. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever used an Android app with such a refined typography selection.
If that’s not enough for you, though, you can easily customize fonts specifically. JotterPad X includes everything from Roboto Light and Liberation Sans to Merriweather and Rosario. You can choose the alignment, margin, and line height. In other words, it’s as easy to customize your text in JotterPad X as it is to write in the app. I can appreciate that it lets me “set it and forget it,” as I prefer to, rather than fiddling — but I’m glad the option to fiddle is there.
The app uses what could be described as a slightly legacy Google interface, with a focus on cards and thin typefaces (arguably a decision influenced by iOS 7, but it looks great here). The app easily integrates to my Dropbox workflow, which I think is essential, but more importantly, it’s a joy to look through everything I’m working on. If you look carefully at the “files as cards” layout, you’ll notice that the app actually presents the opening chunk of text on the card. It’s much more noticeable on a higher-resolution display, but displaying information like this is akin to having a beautiful preview of your document without sacrificing much screen space. I love it.
Finally, JotterPad X supports 7-inch and 10-inch tablets as well as smartphones. The experience is unique on each device, which is something I really appreciate. As far as the best app for tablet writers, look no further than JotterPad X as it has almost no competition (aside from LightPaper Pro).
Of course, all of that would be for nought if the writing experience wasn’t any good. Thankfully, 2 App Studios has included a ton of features that I think are must-haves for the modern Web writer (I hesitate to call us bloggers, as that has some negative and, frankly, unfair connotations).
The first feature of note is Markdown, which 2 App Studios says is in beta mode. If you’re unfamiliar with Markdown, it’s a simple markup syntax for HTML that makes HTML friendlier and faster to write in — no need for complicated brackets and odd strings of code in the middle of your writing. It’s essential, I think, for anybody who writes on the Web, and it allows for clean export to HTML when you’re done. Although JotterPad X allows you to write in Markdown whenever you like (there’s no way to prevent that), Markdown Preview is only available in the Creative Version of the app.
The Creative Version is an in-app purchase that brings a bevy of riches to the app, including not just Markdown preview, but also a Popup Thesaurus, Night Mode, Versions (which are super simple), and a Lock Screen. Is it entirely necessary? I don’t think so; in fact, I think most folks will be fine without it. But Markdown Preview is an especially handy tool to have. If you’re like me, you’ll find it absolutely indispensable.
The app has a ton of cool features that are included within the free version of the app, too. The Popup Dictionary lets you define words on the fly, and it has a Live Word Count (handy for those of us with word limits), and the ability to share a document or export it as a PDF. One feature I wasn’t able to test was JotterPad X’s integration with Bluetooth keyboards. It includes keyboard command shortcuts that will be immensely familiar to writers on their desktops, like ctrl+z to undo. I don’t have a Bluetooth keyboard, but I don’t doubt that it works.
There’s only one thing about the app that bothers me. When connecting with Dropbox, JotterPad is slower than I would like. It’s one thing to take some time to collect all my files the first time I sync the app with the Dropbox service, but there’s a long wait period every time I save and exit a document or even open a folder. To put it into perspective, the wait was long enough to open my AppStorm Articles folder in Dropbox that I had time to feed my dog, which I think is unacceptable. This is the only area of the app I can find a critical flaw in, and I’d love to see it improved in the future.
JotterPad X is a workhorse of an Android app, and one that is bound to make any writer happy. While I wouldn’t use it to prep my thesis paper or work on page layouts (which it’s not meant for anyway), those of us who write for the Web are likely going to find JotterPad X is currently the best offering for our needs on Android right now.
The free version of the app contains almost everything you’re likely to need to write, with the exception of one killer feature: Markdown preview. For those of us who write in Markdown, that alone will make the Creative Version of the app worth the purchase. For reference, that costs $3.99 USD — not a bad price to pay for a fully-featured text editor that you’ll probably use nearly every day. JotterPad X is, right now, the best writing experience on Android.