In this review, we will talk about Byword. It is a cross platform (iOS/OSX) text editor with markdown support and publishing capabilities. It has a slick minimalistic design, that removes features that clutter the interface, allowing you to focus on getting your work done.
What hides behind this simple, yet powerful text editor?
Byword delivers without compromises, as it strikes an ideal balance between a tool aimed at power users, and one aimed towards an audience that just needs a basic text editor. For the past year or so, it has been the only text editor on my Mac, despite facing fierce threats from competing apps such as iA Writer, nvALT and WriteRoom.
The main audience that Byword initially captured was Markdown Junkies, who are naturally bloggers and digital publishers who understand advanced HTML formatting within a simple text editor. This enables writers like me, to quickly write, edit and publish articles within the same working environment, thereby generating high-quality content at an impressive pace.
Byword’s user-friendly interface and distraction-free writing environment significantly enhance the writing process, making it ideal for crafting blog posts and long-form writing. The content creation process is further streamlined by its integrated table of contents feature, which is a boon for organizing content at scale. Prior to using Byword, I’ve had to manually copy articles into WordPress, and have also used expensive tools like Mars Edit that still didn’t offer the simplicity and ease of Byword. Now, with these writing tools, I can focus more on generating content without the need for cumbersome steps, making the entire writing and publishing journey more efficient and enjoyable.
Byword publishing is a part of Byword premium, which is an in-app purchase separate for iOS and OSX. Publishing platforms that you can post to are:
- WordPress (self-hosted and WordPress.com)
Once you are done with writing your articles, you can simply view the article using the “Preview Markdown” feature located within the settings (or swipe from left in iOS7). After you review your work, you can hit publish and get the article in the same format “as-is” on your blog. In this era of blogging and social media, publish is becoming the “new print”.
OS X version
The OS X counterpart is easily the best one amongst all three (iPhone, iPad, and Mac). Superior keyboard shortcuts, and support for full-screen mode really add to the convenience factor. I’ve noticed that the background in Byword is somehow different, as it doesn’t have a clean white, but rather a “smudgy” white background that really feels smooth on the eyes. Perhaps it sounds too abstract, but you’ll know what I am talking about once you try the app. This is the best background (for a text-editor) that I’ve seen yet, and is one of the main reasons why I moved away from nvALT to Byword, despite the lack of search.
The clear distinction between the mobile counterpart is the extra keyboard row, which takes some getting used to. It seems a little bit cluttered on the iPhone (vertical mode), but is quite awesome on the iPad. The biggest issues I have had with Byword is the poor UX on the iPhone, because everything feels so “packed” and “cluttered” within the little screen. Providing superior iPhone UX is tricky, because devs need to maximize small screen real estate, which can be done only if status bar is removed. On other hand this is not an issue on the iPad.
Updates in iOS7 With Byword 2.1
With the advent of the iOS7, Byword introduced some pretty awesome changes. Here is a short summary of the new and improved goodies:
- iPhone full screen mode in horizontal layout (fixed the previous issue)
- Swipe left for Markdown – this feels like MAGIC!
- Syntax highlighting for iOS – which completely negates any difference between the OSX and mobile version of the app.
- Unified user experience across the platforms
- The best markdown support amongst all text editors
- iOS Text Expander Support
- Ability to publish on numerous platforms
- Dropbox and iCloud support
- Low end iPhone user experience
- High price range for premium (total of 10$ for both platforms, on top of app cost)
- Article’s cannot be edited once published.
If you are a blogger, this app is absolutely going to help you reduce your writing efforts and save you a lot of time.