Writer Pro was updated for iOS 8 this week, adding support for Dropbox, Handoff, Document Picker, basic folder support, and a significant change to the way the app handles its four different views.
The Dropbox integration is straightforward and very useful. You can link your Dropbox to the app and open any files from any folder, which is great. Some apps limit you to using a particular folder within Dropbox, but Writer Pro will let you open or store files in whatever folder you please.
Handoff works surprisingly well. If I’m using Writer Pro on my iPhone, my iPad will realize which app is open and offer options on the lock screen (bottom-left) and multitasking screen (one swipe left of the home screen) to load Writer Pro and open the exact same file. It would be awesome if it also placed the text cursor in the exact same position, but I’m not sure that’s even possible with Handoff in iOS 8.
Basic folder support goes hand in hand with the change to the file extensions, but I haven’t figured it out. As a quick re-cap, one of Writer Pro’s main bullet point features is a set of four workflow modes: Note, Write, Edit, Read. I’ve criticized these features in the past for feeling a little too shallow in terms of actual differentiation, but I do use them as a sort of file management system. Writer Pro used to actually move files from folder to folder as you switched viewing modes. Viewing a file in Note mode and then viewing it in Edit mode used to move the location of the file within iCloud. That has now changed. Viewing the same file in a different mode simply changes the extension of the file.
This should theoretically allow me to use different folders for my final drafts, which is what I’ve wanted to do ever since I bought this app in June. The thing is that I can’t seem to find a way to actually create iCloud folders within the iPad app. I can create folders on my Mac version of Writer Pro, and I can see the folders in my Recents view on the iPad, but there’s seemingly no way to move files from folder to folder on iOS. If “basic folder support” simply meant I could use my Mac to move files around, I’m disappointed (and if I find out otherwise, I’ll update this post).
I’m not quite sure how to feel about this update to Writer Pro. On the one hand, it’s now easier to recommend because of the Dropbox and Document Picker integration. You can now keep your files almost anywhere, and Writer Pro will be able to open them.
However, I’m also surprised that iA still hasn’t nailed down straightforward folder organization, which is something their previous app, iA Writer, handled beautifully. Let’s put it this way: if you already own Writer Pro, there’s now more reason to use the app on iOS 8. If you don’t own Writer Pro yet, I’d suggest sticking with iA Writer or Byword for now.