iPad Productivity Tips for Entering Text into iOS

iPad Productivity Tips

I think of my iPad as a proper computer. It is something on which to get work done. It’s a good thing to consider how you’re going to get your words into the device. Due to the mobility of the device I use it in various situations so what works well in one place is not so good in another. I use my iPad when I’m sitting in bed or lounging on the sofa. When I’m taking a break at work and sitting in the passenger seat of my car, that’s a good place to pick up my iPad. Sometimes I’m standing up and using the iPad, perhaps to send a quick message or create a note. So taking ergonomics into consideration, it’s a brilliant idea to have a number of different ways to write into the iPad. Let’s have a look at which is best for which job. iPad productivity tips

  • On-screen keyboard
  • A paired Bluetooth keyboard
  • Siri dictation
  • Handwriting recognition

The other thing to think about is whether you actually need to have words on a page. Perhaps one of the best Productivity Tips would be to record an audio or video message to communicate whatever you have to say.

On-screen keyboard

I like using the on-screen keyboard on the iPad. Some people think that it’s weird to type on glass and that it would slow them down. This is not necessarily going to be the case because of the predictive text. Predictive text is amazing because it means you can type in a whole word, however long it might be with just one tap. You just have to train yourself to keep an eye on the extra keyboard row to see if one of the three offerings is the word you’re looking for. It is also possible for the iPad to give you auto correction. This is not always a good idea as you can end up with some weird looking sentences that have no meaning whatsoever. There is also the auto capitalisation which saves you some taps on the keyboard for the shift key. Apple have done a super job of giving us a keyboard to help us find our inner poet or blog master. For the longer writings you will no doubt want to use a laptop or better still an iMac. You could write long pieces on the iPad though and especially the iPad Pro and with the right set up be quite contented with the process.

The onscreen keyboard of the iPad Pro in the app Ulysses

iPad Productivity Tips


Adding extra keyboards

There are a number of useful extra on screen keyboards to bolster your productivity. There are keyboards giving you access to emoji icons in case you want to communicate like a teenager. The application Copied gives you quick access to the last few things you put onto your clipboard. I also have an application called Hemingboard which is a fancy thesaurus. When I have a word selected and I want to change it for something more appropriate I can swap keyboards. Hemingboard gives me synonyms and antonyms as well as rhyming words. You never know when you might want to be poetical. The other keyboard I’ve just started using is MyScript – Stylus. This one lets me use my Apple Pencil to do handwriting onto the screen and have that awful scrawl turned into editable text. More about that later in these iPad productivity tips.

A Physical Keyboard – iPad productivity tips

For some people there’s nothing better than using a mechanical/physical keyboard. There are iPad productivity tips options suggesting type with our favourite keyboards connected to the iPad. Ergonomics comes into the equation once more and depending on the keyboards you’ll have to arrange how you set yourself up to do your typing. One thing I have found is that if you’re going to use an Apple Bluetooth keyboard, it works better to have one specifically for using with the iPad or iPhone. If it’s already paired to a Mac then getting it to pair with your iPad can sometimes be a bit of a pain. You have to make sure it is fully disconnected from the other device first before you can set it up.

Sitting is bad for you and having a set up so you can stand up and write could be great for your health. Have a table at the right height and plonk the iPad on top with a keyboard. Maybe even go a stage further and have a walking desk so you clock up some kilometres as you write.

Bluetooth Keyboard options

I bought the Microsoft Bluetooth Universal Mobile Keyboard. It’s a great little keyboard which has an integrated stand to put your device at the correct angle. It does take a little bit of getting used to a smaller keyboard if you’re used to working with a full-size one. I bought a version that had a UK English layout and I could use it with an Android device or with Windows if I was crazy enough. The keyboard is light and easy to carry around and well worth having. If I was planning to do a lot more typing then I’d rather use the standard Apple Bluetooth keyboard instead. Handy set of iPad productivity tips regards using external keyboards with your iPad.

iPad Productivity Tips

iPad Pro Keyboards

I’ve only had a look at one of these and a little tryout in one of the Apple stores. It seems like a good way to have a keyboard connected to your iPad. It connects to the iPad using the special connector and you don’t need to worry about charging the batteries of a keyboard. The main problem I have with this keyboard is that it’s so expensive. My preferred method of inputting data into the computer is by using dictation. So I’m not likely to spend a huge amount of money to give me keyboard input.

Another keyboard to look at would be the Logitech which gives you backlighting on the keys. This can be particularly useful if you like to type in dark places or at night time. This does mean you have to charge the battery more often and it does weigh 725 g. If you’re going to go down this route then you might want to consider just buying one of the new MacBooks instead. It could be lighter than this combination of iPad Pro and an external keyboard. It’s all down to personal choice, the way you work with your devices and what software you like to use. The red version of the Logitech keyboard and cover does look rather nice.

Dictation – One of the best iPad Productivity Tips Ever!

Siri Dictation

Siri is there for answering all your questions, however daft they may be. Siri will also give you fantastic dictation capabilities for your iPad or iPhone. I have used Siri dictation to write a 1000 word article using my iPhone. It was the device I had with me at the time, so was perfect for the job. I was using it over 4G Internet connection so it was fast in operation. I found it incredibly accurate and efficient to write this way. It’s best to write your sentences two or three at a time and then look back at what Siri has written for you. If there’s a word it’s got wrong you only have to double tap on the word and replace it. I like this way of working and I do this quite often. You quickly get used to saying the punctuation commands like comma and the rest. Any sort of dictation is so much faster than using a keyboard of any sort even when you need to go back and make one or two corrections. In any case, when you’re typing you should also be editing your written work when you’ve finished. You don’t have to consider the time you spend editing after dictation as something extra, time wise in the writing process.

Dictation into Ulysses App


iPad Productivity Tips - Siri dictation

Now and then when using Siri dictation you will get back strange conversions of your speech. Don’t let this colour your view on how well the Siri dictation works. It just happens from time to time and the next time you work with Siri you will once again be surprised how well it converts speech to text. The good thing about using dictation is that you will get much better spelling. You do however have to watch out for the homonyms (words that sound the same, but mean different things)

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Dragon Dictation

400x40000bbGood iPad productivity tips – Dragon dictation on the Mac is absolutely amazing. I have just ordered the new version which is coming out the 1st of September this year. The new version is supposed to work faster than ever before and incorporate deep learning technology. This means it’s supposed to learn from the way you speak and the words you use, better than previous versions. I do most of my writing this way and it’s the only reason I would consider buying a Mac laptop to use as a writing machine. There are ways you can use the Dragon dictation on a mobile device such as your iPhone or iPad. Nuance have an application called Dragon Anywhere which I haven’t been able to try. This is because it’s not available in the country where I live. It’s only available if you live in the USA or the UK. It does work out quite expensive because you have to pay monthly for the service. I think it’s a better solution to use an audio application such as Twisted Wave and then to use transcription with Dragon for Mac. If you’ve already paid out for the Mac version and maybe upgraded a couple of times you’re not really going to want to pay out for a monthly service as well. Transcription of audio files works pretty well although I’m not quite as comfortable dictating in that way. I like to say what I have to say, write what I have to write and see the words appearing on the screen in front of me.


iPad Productivity Tips - Dragon Dictatioin

Dragon Dictation Application – there is another Dragon dictation application which doesn’t require a monthly fee. This application has been around for a while from Nuance and works pretty good. For best accuracy and performance use an external microphone, but you can also use the built-in microphone on the iPhone or iPad. This is so long as you hold the device so the microphone is close to your mouth. The first time I tried out this application was a couple of years ago and I was incredibly impressed. I was sitting outside in the street at a cafe and I could hear machines working in streets nearby. Despite this, the Dragon Dictation application worked stupendously well. Even better news is the app is free.

Unedited text from Dragon Dictation on iOS

Testing using the Dragon dictation recording application. I normally prefer to do this on the Mac but this works pretty well as well. You don’t get to see the words as they appear on screen and when you finish recording you tap the screen to stop. It is best to do this, say a few sentences at a time and then look back at how well the software has converted your words into text. The first editing option is to select a word by tapping on it and you have the option to delete it. If you need to do further editing you can bring up a keyboard and get right into the nitty-gritty of sorting out where the dictation service didn’t get it quite right. This section of text was dictated into the iPad and it didn’t get any words wrong at all. When you finish doing your dictation you can take the words and copy them to the clipboard or send them to one or two other places using the small icon in the top right hand corner. The results from this Dragon dictation application on the iPad is nothing short of impressive.

Handwriting recognition

Another choice available for entering text on the iPad is handwriting. I didn’t think I’d like it, but I can see occasions when it could be useful. I’m surprised the software can read my writing at all. I am writing this section with the Apple Pencil on the iPad and I’m learning as I go. I can split text and get rid of spaces as well as using the predictive text to help out when necessary. It’s possible to go back to earlier in the text to make charges when I spot a mistake later. I’m even deleting single letters to make corrections. I’m getting better with this type of text entry the more I use it. Speech recognition is much more useful because of the speed of entry. Can’t always have a chat with my computer, so using this does have its place. iPad productivity tips – This is being written using the MyScript Stylus keyboard option. I’m using it in the Ulysses writers software and it is available in whatever app where you can swap to another third party keyboard.

Turning handwriting into editable text



converting handwriting

MyScript Stylus

MyScript StylusI heard about this one from Alison Sheridan of the Nosillacast Podcast. I thought such software was a daft idea at first. So I thought why not give it a try and see for myself. I now think it could be useful in certain occasions. This is a keyboard add on which means you can use it in all your apps requiring a keyboard. After seeing what this could do I downloaded other apps from the same developer. When you have terrible handwriting you have to train yourself to write a little neater. Even with a looping script MyScript Stylus will do a great job of recognising the words. You write into an area where the keyboard sits usually and there are keys for Return, backspace and spacebar. Scroll with two fingers to see words just converted – Sometimes you have to fix mistakes. You might want to split, join, overwrite letters or words and there are two ways to delete stuff. There are reminders in the help section to show you how you do this editing with gestures. There are other settings you access from within the app. I’ll keep this 3rd party keyboard around for a while and see how much I use it. I also downloaded the application called MyScript Stack which is similar but not quite the same. You have to print each of the letters individually and they disappear from the screen quickly. It might be suitable if you write in this fashion anyway but it’s far better if you can write with cursive text if that’s what you’re used to.

There’s a help animation for the gestures

MyScript Sty;us


iPad Productivity tips




iPad productivity tips – Memo for handwriting recognition

I downloaded this application after seeing it in the list of other applications by the same developer as MyScript Stylus. So I started doing some handwriting onto the page and I wasn’t too impressed at first. Then I saw I could also add photos and I thought that was quite handy. There is also a tool for selecting what you have on the page. Once you have something selected you can export it out as an image or as text. If you export it out as text then it goes to an online service which does a pretty good job of changing it from handwritten scribble into editable text. That’s just for the part selected but it’s also possible to export the whole document. It’s not bad software for writing on the iPad and doing it with handwriting. Myscript Memo App

Handwriting into Memo

iPad Productivity tips - memo

Converted by the software

I’m not so keen on the way it only works in portrait mode. The conversion isn’t anywhere near as fast or as accurate as when using Nebo or the MyScript Keyboard. I will not keep this app around after I’ve finished this testing for this article. It does have a wrist guard so you don’t make marks in places where you don’t want them. Rotating and positioning photos is OK, but there are better apps to take notes like that. I’d recommend Nebo instead if you have the iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil. Just noticed there is a personal dictionary option for the app to better recognise words. Not sure why that would be needed. It is possible to export all your memo notes to a MyScript file. I tried the Open In option and it didn’t do anything at all.

The selection tool in Memo

Just select a portion of your handwriting on the note to be converted if you don’t want all of your writing. You will have to wait a short while for the app to send off the image to the online service and send back the converted text.

Converting a selection

iPad productivity tips – Nebo

Nebo  is another handwriting recognition application. I like the way it works. You get a sheet to write on and the text gets sent to the server to be converted as you are writing it. You can see if your writing has been converted to the correct word or spelling in the conversion preview. As you see what you’ve written turn into editable text, the conversion preview lets export just that section. It’s easy to erase a word previously converted to text then write the word that is supposed to be there. I would suggest starting with the tutorial to familiarise yourself with the workings of Nebo. It will show you how to do lists, headings, highlighted words and how to delete letters, words and spaces. You’ll soon be up and running if you follow some of these iPad productivity tips.

Nebo App

iPad productivity tips


I prefer this app to the Memo app as you get extra capabilities. If you need mathematic symbols or diagrams then this is the app to use. I love the diagraming tools. Do the rough sketch of your diagram to have the shapes converted to circles, squares and triangles with completely straight lines connecting the elements. You put the diagrams into a container on the page meant just for diagrams. This way the app doesn’t get confused with what you are trying to do. Put words into the shapes you create if you want to. Select the container to copy or cut it to the clipboard or to convert anything not already converted. I successfully copied one of these diagrams I made this application and pasted it into the application Book Creator.

Diagram from Nebo pasted into Book Creator

iPad productivity tips - Book Creator

Nebo writing and drawing just works with the Apple Pencil and doesn’t work with your fingers. This is good because it means it doesn’t waste some of the space by having a hand rest guard. You can change the colour of the text you’re writing with. When the writing has been converted into text you get text in the same colour you’re using with the pencil.

The text appears on the page above your writing as you write. You still have to click on it to do the conversion. When it is converted the handwriting goes away and you just have the text. Or you can just copy converted text into the clipboard to put somewhere else in another app.

I like this application and I’m going to keep it around. I see it as quite useful to create diagrams as well as for converting handwriting into editable text. I might not be using it too often because I do prefer to create text with dictation. It’s a good thing to have the application there for the choice though. While the application is good for the handwriting conversion it may also be used to create stand-alone documents. The other export option is as HTML, but as far as I can make out that doesn’t really work. When exporting to another text based application it just comes in as a gobbledygook.


Sharing between Mac and iOS

Sharing between Mac and iOS – There are a couple of different applications you can use to share information between your Mac and your iOS devices. For sharing between Mac and iOS there is Push bullet, Desk Connect, Dropbox. How good and useful these applications and services are, depends upon exactly what is you want to move from one place to another. Dropbox is an old-favourite because all you need to do is to drop your file or just save it into a dropbox folder. Then hey presto, you can get that file from wherever. We also have iCloud and iCloud drive and similar offerings from Microsoft One Drive and Google Drive. So there are no end of services and applications for moving files from one place to another, Sharing between Mac and iOS. The thing is though, it’s not just documents you want to move from place to place. It’s also very useful if you can send a snippet of text, a little bit of code or anything you might have on your clipboard. Within the applications like PushBullet and DeskConnect you can send both files and also clipboard items quite easily. The only thing is, is that you need to open up these applications and actually think about doing it.Sharing between Mac and iOS

I’ve an found application called Copied which has applications for both Mac OS X and also for iOS. I’m pleased it has a synchronised clipboard. The application does this automatically via iCloud. You don’t even have to think about it. Whatever you save on your iPhone, iPad or on your Mac will immediately (usually immediately) be available on every device in your Apple computing life. It’s really very handy indeed.

Horses for Courses – The Best Tool for the Job

The reason having a synchronised clipboard across your all devices is useful is because not all of us are post-PC. Most of us will sometimes be sitting at a desk completing a task on the desktop iMac and at any time, get up to get mobile and have the need to complete the task on an iOS device. Or the other way round! There are things you can do much faster and more conveniently on iPad than you can on your Mac. Sometimes an app will get more development on one platform than it does on the other. Perhaps the reason is it can be easier or is just that a task is more suited to the touch environment. There are also times when you’re doing something on your iPad and maybe you just want to have a much larger screen to work on. Occasionally there will be application more suited to the task available on OS X. So this is what we do, chop and change moving from one device to another for various reasons. This is why we have applications such as Pushbullet, DeskConnect and now the application Copied to help us keep the data we’re using in sync. Moving files from place to place we have our Dropbox type of applications. Really what we need is something which works the best for the clipboard end of things. Seeing as information in the clipboard is moved automatically by Copied, that application is the best for this task of clipboard management. There are other advantages to using this application.

Sharing between Mac and iOS – Clipboard Lists

Copied - List of Clips

Even though I have the application Text Expander it’s occasionally useful to have certain clips of text available in all places. Not every application runs Text Expander, whereas you do have copy and paste in just about everything. There are certain things which we have to post in over and over such as email addresses or web URLs. The facility within the application Copied to create lists is incredibly useful. Whenever you find something you are constantly copying and pasting why not just save it to a specific list. I have a list of the different email addresses I use and I also have another list for certain web addresses. Within the application on your iOS device you can open up the pane showing the lists and easily add a new clipping. You can also take something already added to Copied to add it to the list you have already made or add to a new list. Tap on the clipboard item in the pane to the left and slide your finger from the right to the left. This is where you get four main options. The first icon takes you to the list of things you can do with the text within the application itself. You can keep it as original, set it as plain text, set it to paste the source URL or the source title, create a HTML code as a link or as a markdown type link. You can then go to whatever application you want to do your pasting and post it in, in whatever format you’ve chosen.

The next icon out of these choices is to send the clip to a list. The icon is four horizontal lines, tap on it and then choose the list you want to put your clip into or click on New List. Then we have the standard share icon, so from a you can send it to whatever applications you have set up within your iOS sharing. So the sky is the limit regard sharing on iOS. The only other option available is to delete the clipboard item, just tap on the icon that looks like a trashcan/dustbin.  Sharing between Mac and iOS like a Professional.

The settings for the Copied application on iOS

It’s good to have a clipboard manager on iOS and one of the best reasons for that is the history of clippings. Within the app Copied you can set it to save your history from one of the seven choices, giving you a range of between 10 and 1000 copies items. I think that anything over 250 could be unwieldy and cumbersome and difficult to manage. Some people even might think that 50 items would be too difficult to manage and would be better off staying with either 10 or 25 items will stop it really depends upon a you use your iPad. I set mine to have a copied history of 100 clipboard items.

Copied App Settings

Duplicates not required! It’s just a waste of space in your clipboard history to have duplicates and the default in the settings is to not allow duplicates. You may also set to have a plain text mode. This could be useful if you copied in text from a WYSIWYG type of application and you really only need to have the plaintext. Most of the work I do is in text mode type applications such as Byword, Drafts or Ulysses, so I don’t even need to think about this setting for sharing between Mac and iOS.

Templates in Copied

Sharing between Mac and iOS

Setting up templates within the settings of the Copied application. Depending on what you have copied you get different options in the form of templates. If you have something with a URL it will be in there as The Title, the URL and you can use codes within the templates to set up the output from the application. This is where you get the option of pasting as a markdown link. Within the template setting for markdown you get the square brackets and the title goes within to create the link text and the URL goes within the opening and closing round brackets. If you are using a different type of markup syntax in another application you could set a template specific to that.

Start with Ulysses writing app iOS

Ulysees App LogoUlysses Mobile – Ulysses app iOS

The Ulysses app iOS is a good addition to the iPad Pro for someone who wants to do writing on both the iPad and also the Mac. I’ve looked at Ulysses despite being a user of the writing app Scrivener, which is a super application. When you are using it on your Mac you will soon see that it does just about everything, apart from make the tea. It is possible to export projects out of Scrivener and to bring them back in again to use on iOS. It’s not the same as having a system which will work on both platforms. I tested Ulysses on the Mac and I thought it was incredibly simple. I decided it wasn’t going to do all I would need from a writers app. The thing is, is the simple view is somewhat deceptive. In this Ulysses app review I think I’ll be able to confirm that the pairing of Ulysses for Mac and Ulysses iOS will be good for my writing workflow. Initially, I thought I would just get the Ulysses writers app for iOS and move the words into Byword to move them across into my Mac. It didn’t take me long to realise that there is an advantage to having a pair of writers apps working together. So despite being a happy user of Scrivener for Mac, I stumped up the cash to buy the Ulysses writing app for OS X. My first impressions of Ulysses writing app iOS are positive and I like the way it is working so far.

Ulysses app review – The writers app for iOS

Ulysses writing app iOS

Ulysses writing app iOS



What you have in Ulysses Mobile is a three pane view. Starting with the pane on the left, which is where you choose the library you’re going to work with. In this area you’ll see that you can use iCloud or you can bring in external files. There’s a good range of places you can bring documents in. This includes the application called Documents by Readdle. You may also use Google Drive and One Drive or bring in PDFs from PDF Expert. It’s good to see that you can also bring in files from Bitsync and also from the FTP application Transmit. Strangely, with Dropbox it doesn’t support opening files. My preferred method of connecting the two applications, the Ulysses writing app for iOS and the version on the Mac is with iCloud.

Ulysses Mobile connection to external files

Even though the application is quite simple it’s useful in this library area to see two sections of help files. You have some documents in a section called First Steps to help you get started. Then there is another group of documents in Details and Tips to get you past the basics. When you finish setting up and reading through the introduction in this first pane you can dismiss it by sliding your finger to the left. Now you can see two panes and you’ll see your selection of files you’re working on in a group. Going back into the left-hand pane to look into the iCloud area you’ll see that you can look at all your files in a list. So if you can’t remember which group you put a file into, look at all of them in one list. Then there is a view which will show you the last seven days of files. If there are certain files you work on regularly then you might want to put those into favourites. Sheets can be favourited via a sheets ‘More’ menu. To get that More menu, you need to be looking at your list of files. Select the file, choose Edit from the menu at the bottom and then you will see More. From here you can add or remove from favourites, make a duplicate, copy, export, move, share or move to trash.

Organising your documents in the Ulysses writing app iOS

When you delete a document in Ulysses writing app iOS, it will first go into the Trash. You need to go into this trash area if you want to permanently erase these items. It’s possible to organise your work into projects – groups. There is a default group called Inbox. I suppose you will start by putting things in there if you’re not quite sure where you want your sheet to go. If you’re working on a novel then you’ll have a group and it’s easy enough to give the group a title and to assign it an icon. With the group selected you hit the edit button at the bottom of the screen. Then you can choose which one you want to edit, within this editing area, you set a goal for the number of words you’d like to complete. You have the choice of ‘about’ a certain number of words or you can specify that it should be ‘at least’ or ‘at most’. If you prefer to have it set by the number of characters or the number of characters without spaces, you can. The number of words is what most people want count, but you may also count by sentences, paragraphs, lines or pages.

Ulysses on iOS

Sheets as chapters in Ulysses iOS.

So you’re looking at the list of sheets, which is what they call each document within Ulysses. You’ll want to move them around to have them in the correct order ready to export them. Tap on the edit menu item at the bottom of the screen to start organising. Within this view you can use the icon with three lines to the right, to move the sheets up or down within the stack. Over on the left-hand side you have a circle which you tap on to select and this will give you a check mark within the circle coloured blue. Within your stack of sheets you might have sections devoted to research. These will be notes you don’t want to export to the book format. So it’s really useful to be able to select just what you want to send out as a combined document. Choose all your chapters for the novel and select Export. Your choices for export are as text, HTML, EPUB, PDF or Word document. If you choose EPUB it’s easy to copy to iBooks. This is handy if you want to have see what your book is going to look like in an e-book reader. Before you send it out as an EPUB you can choose a style for it and there are three built-in styles. Give your blog a title and fill in the section to say who is the author. It’s also a good idea to use a cover image for your book. When you got everything set right, export it out to iCloud Drive or one of your other locations. It doesn’t have the option to export directly to a file for Kindle, but I think it’s possible to send to publish on Amazon as a EPUB file. There are other applications available if you need to do a conversion to .mobi. The developer of Ulysses writing app iOS would like to a conversion to .mobi, but says it might not be possible.

Writing in the Ulysses app iOS.

I like using markdown for writing. With the Ulysses writing app iOS and also Ulysses for Mac you’re going to write using markdown or markdown XL. There are two other possibilities Textile and Minimark. I’ll be looking forward to seeing an update to the application to make it compatible with the iPad Pro. As I write this it is still showing the old-style keyboard which is too big on this device. It’s not too much of a problem though, as it is still workable. There is an extra row of keys at the top of the keyboard, giving you easy access to the markdown syntax and one or two other handy keys. There is a search key which brings up a search bar which you can also use for search and replace. The paperclip key gives you access to an area where you add keywords for your document. This would be handy during writing a novel so you can set a keyword for the point of view for that chapter. You might also set a keyword for a location as another way to help you find sets of documents within your novel at a later stage. There is a tab to set a goal for the number of words, sentences, pages or whatever for just that sheet. A tab to add notes and other tab to add images. If you have added a goal to that sheet the paperclip icon changes to a circle showing you how far you are towards your goal.

In iOS 9 it’s cool to use the two fingers on the screen to turn the whole of the screen into a trackpad. This little trick makes it easy to position the cursor exactly where you want it for your writing. If you quickly want to move one character to the left or to the right you also have arrow keys available on the extra row of the keyboard. Starting from the left-hand side of this extra row you get a word count. This is followed by a button to set the level of the heading. It’s better to select the text you want as a heading and then choose its level. The next icon gives you a number of choices – outdenting and indenting, setting text as a Block Quote and two options for making a list.
The next icon looks like the icon you get for making text into right justification, but that’s not what it does. From this icon you can set a line break, a divider, raw source block, code block or a comment block. For your usual straightforward writing of stories you won’t need to use these very often, if at all. The next two icons give you the options to mark, italicise and bold the text as well as a few other odd syntax markings.
Then we have an icon which is a square of four squares and this one is going to be quite useful. This is where you will add links and images to your sheet. You can also add footnotes and annotations as well as video. Some of these things are not in the standard markdown syntax, but are useful for using within the Ulysses writing app iOS.
There is a section with six icons on it starting with a button to add a tab in the text. The next one is to add opening and closing rounded brackets, followed by a quick access key to a colon. The next two icons are a bit weird, giving you double or single quotation marks. Weird because the initial mark is at the level of the bottom of the words rather than in it’s usual place. A bit like in the Spanish language where at the beginning of a sentence which is a question they will put an upside down question mark.
There is an icon next, which is three circles making a small triangle. This gives you a redo and an undo pair of buttons. With a section of text selected, hit the Clear Markup in the menu and it will remove the markdown syntax in what you have selected.

Ulysses writing app iOS

Ulysses writing app iOS – iPad Pro Keyboard


With all the extra keys and settings available for when you’re writing in this Ulysses writing app iOS, it is a pleasant writing experience. The default font is Menlo, but you have a whole range of fonts to choose from in the settings. Menlo is a monospaced font which is good for general text editing. Change it to a different font that is not a monospaced, such as Arial or Baskerville for reading through.

Ulysses writing app iOS iPad Pro Keyboard Markdown

More settings to play with in the Ulysses writing app

Aside from changing the font you can change the layout, such as the line width than the line height. It is also possible to change the paragraph spacing and the first line indent. There is a switch which will swap it to dark mode if you want to have light text on a dark background. Then there are four built-in themes and the one called Solarized is quite popular with some people. You may also add custom themes by going to the Ulysses style exchange. Within the settings you can choose to have smart lists and smart tags. There are also switches for auto capitalisation, auto correction and checking of spelling.

Ulysses Mobile writing app

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Verdict on Ulysses writing app for iOS

I was getting on fine with a writing app for iOS using Byword. A good writing space and a connection to OS X through iCloud. Ulysses gives me something extra on top of that with the range of export possibilities, in particular the export to e-book. Ulysses probably has more settings for organising the writing experience. The main difference is the ability to keep documents in groups, such as you would do when putting a book together. It’s for this reason that I am very happy with the decision to go with Ulysses as a pair on the iOS platform and the Mac. A lot of people when talking about the iPad like to see it as an either or scenario with it and a desktop or laptop computer. Many of us work on both platforms and want to have the ease of use given to us by having our documents everywhere. All our text documents in one place organised into groups so we have a one-stop shop. This is possible with using the pair of applications from Ulysses. Ulysses writing app iOS is easy-to-use and it now has compatibility with the iPad Pro.

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Ulysses Mobile on iPhone

I’m delighted to see that Ulysses has gone universal on iOS and it’s now available to use on the iPhone. This means I can pick up and start working on any document even if I am out and about, mobile. Previously I might’ve use the application Daedalus to so I’d be able to see it in Ulysses on my iMac, but now I don’t have to do that. There are plenty of times when I only have my phone with me and is going to be extremely useful to have a way to input text directly into Ulysses. This means I can use Ulysses for all of my long form text entry. I could see myself working on an outline for a book in Ulysses Mobile on iPhone.  using Siri dictation it’s unlikely I would be writing whole chapters of a book. There have been times in the past when I have written 500 to 800 words on the iPhone using Siri and it has worked out okay.

Ulysses writing app iOS

Ulysses writing app iOS

Do I need to use Daedalus anymore?

There is one extra bonus with the connection to the Daedalus app on iOS. This is a notetaking application for iOS and it will also sync across to Ulysses on the Mac. If you want to write something on your iOS device, rather than opening up the full iOS writing app Ulysses, just take a note in Daedalus. This keeps your simple notes separate while on iOS that makes them fully available to you when you’re working in Ulysses on your Mac. If you don’t have Daedalus app then I suppose you could put notes like that into the group called Inbox in Ulysses. A thumbs up from NoStylus. I am loving the new Ulysses writing app iOS

Game of Threes and Finding Aeroplanes

The Game Of Threes

Threes game

I don’t often get drawn into playing games on my iOS devices, as I prefer to make use of them for creating content and being productive. There are occasions now and then when having something to fill a couple of minutes that are not otherwise going to productive, where a game can be useful. The last game that I got really into was Temple Run and I ended up spending quite a lot of time running across the walls trying to avoid the pitfalls and tree trunks. The game that has me hooked at the moment is the one called Threes. It is a really simple game where you join the ones and twos together to make three. After that you add the threes together and the sixes together, continually doubling them up to get the highest number you can. The board is a 4×4 square that you play on. It starts off very easy, but it obviously gets a little bit more difficult as it fills up. There is a strategy that you can use because you can see the next colour or number that is coming next. You plan your move based upon what you have already on your board. It is also a game of luck, because you can never be sure exactly where the new tile will be coming in. It is an enjoyable game and my wife has also got hooked to it and I think my mum is going the same way. My best score so far is 7746 and a couple of times lately, the best I could manage was around 500!

Finding aeroplanes

In the latest podcast for Mac 20 Questions I was talking to Allister Jenks from New Zealand who likes to use an application to track aeroplanes. The one he used was called FlightRadar24 and from what he was saying about it, it seems that it is fairly accurate. I have been using a similar application called PlaneFinder HD and I have been trying it out again. It doesn’t seem to be very good in terms of accuracy. You can use one view where you point the camera out at the aeroplanes in the sky. It gives you a pop-up banner where the aeroplane is, with the information. The thing is, when you change to the other view where it looks like a map, the information seems to be different. I was also looking at aeroplanes in the sky and there was one going north nearly overhead and I couldn’t see it on the map view. Maybe I will have to give the other application that Alistair Jenks has been using and seems to be happy with.


Pixelmator for iPad – First Impressions

Loving the iPad Air 2 For Creativity

Pixelmator for iPad

I have been very busy to set up lots of different applications on my new iPad and one of these is the new Pixelmator for iPad app. My first try at using it yesterday didn’t go quite so well as I thought it would. I was trying to open files that I had created on my Mac and I think that the problem was due to needing to wait for some synchronisation. I’m not known for my ability to be patient. This morning I am trying the application again and I managed to get into one of these files. It is a picture of a pizza that I did some work with in Topaz Impression. One of the things that was shown during the Apple event to announce the iPad Air 2 was how easy it was to delete an object from a picture intelligently using the retouch tool. So I gave this a try, I removed one of the tomatoes from pizza and I have to say that it is impressive indeed. It worked very quickly and afterward the edit you cannot tell where the edit was made. The picture still looks spot on. I have given a quick try to the painting tools and they worked very well. I can also use my Intuos Creative Stylus 2 for Apple iPad
which is excellent news.

Adding effects to your photos

I can add effects to my images and there is a whole host of effects to choose from. You can start with the standard effects that will do things like blur, sharpen, noise, hue and saturation as well is more interesting things. You can completely destroy or make your pictures interesting with filters such as Bump, Pinch or Kaleidoscope. I like the way that these controls work within Pixelmator for iPad. So if for example you are using the Bump effect you get a spot on the end of a dotted wobbly line. It looks kind of like a soap on a rope. The spot is where you want to place the centre of the effect and then there is another spot connected to that main one which allows you to say how far the effect extends. Once you have everything set up the way that you want with your effect, you click on done and hey presto the job is done.

Pixelmator for iPad effects

Completely intuitive to use

One of the best things about this Pixelmator for iPad application is that you don’t really need much help in working out how to use any of the tools and effects. All you need to do is to jump in there and play. If you don’t like what you have done, you always have the undo button to take you back a step. If you do need any help at all to work out how to do things there is a question or icon in the top right-hand corner. A quick tip matter and you see a whole load of tips appear on screen pointing to what each of the available buttons do.

Pixelmator for the iPad Artist

Using your fingers to do resize of your objects is as easy as you would expect it to be. If you do any sort of artwork whether that be creating digital drawings and paintings or working with your photographs then I have to say that this is a must have application for the iPad. There is a possibility I could be using this in preference to my previous favourite, Procreate. Without a doubt I am going to be creating some art on my iPad to post to my social network accounts.

Phraseology for iOS and Terminology for iOS

Finding out what I can do with the Phraseology application for iOS . It is not too difficult to get acquainted with what it does and how it does it. Early in the morning at the campsite job and I'm trying to get it to analyse the text for me.

Text analysys in phraseology

More text statistics

There is a button on the left side which gives you more info about the text. You get information like average word per sentence and number of sentences as well as what they call root word count. There is a Flesch Kincaid reading ease score, whatever that might be. Maybe a Gunning FOG index is what you need to be able to assess your writing or a SMOG index is what you want. Both of these are in the statistics page for you use.

This application works with the Drafts application and also with one called Terminology. I can get all of the words to be coloured by the type of word it is. If I want to see all of the nouns I have used, or how many are adjectives.

Using Markdown in Phraseology

It doesn't have the extra row of keys for writing easily in markdown, but it does have a Markdown preview mode. There really should be the basics of Markdown for creating headers and making text boldface. Maybe in a later version. There is space available for these, at least there is when you are working in landscape mode with your iPad. From the Markdown view you can send the text out by email and also get the HTML version of the text for pasting into a website somewhere.

Integration with other applications

I also bought a sister app to this Phraseology application called Terminology and it is a dictionary and thesaurus. You just have to select a word and you get options of what you can do with it. Aside from using Define word, you can jump right into Terminology from this iOS Phraseology application. When you have a word selected you can click on a small arrow to the right of the choices and get into Terminology to find a better word and replace the one selected. The integration is quite marvellous, you work out which word you want to use and have it sent right back to where you were working in Phraseology.

I tried out the integration with Drafts and it worked very well sending the text from Phraseology. It didn't work quite so well with the round trip back. I was able to use Drafts to send it back to Phraseology, but it came in as a new document. I can see this being addressed in a future version of the application Drafts.

If I want to swap around paragraphs or sentences I go to the othe view and move one paragraph around to where I want it. This could be a good application to use for outlining. This function actually works very well and I like it. In the extra row of keys you get there are buttons for moving around the text quickly which is quite handy and buttons which select text either one character or word at a time.

What a lovely view!

There are choices you can make about the text size and which font you want to use from a small selection of fonts. Sometimes it can be helpful to change the font when editing text as it makes it look like new text to the brain and helps an editor or writer find problems.

Going back in time

Each of your edits get saved as versions so that you can go back in time if you want to. You access this from a small icon that looks like a clock which is located in the top right hand corner. This is another one of those tools which is going to be very useful for an editor rather than for the writer.

Back to iOS after being an Android user.

Most of this article has been written in Phraseology, I did write one sentence in Drafts before I brought it back in. With being an Android user for some time now I did miss the keyboard facilities that I get with Android. Other than that, I did find it very nice to be working once again with iOS and my iPad.


How to use the Drafts app on iOS

Entering text on your iOS device – How to use the Drafts app

When I first saw the application called Drafts I immediately thought that it was a silly idea and should have died at birth. On account of the fact that there were a number of people that were raving about the Drafts application and saying how useful it was, I thought I would keep an open mind and have a look for myself. I have to admit that when first using it still didn’t get it. Really, it comes down to how you think about what you’re doing with your iOS device. It is whether you are thinking in an app centric way or whether you are thinking in terms of the output from your head, ideas. I kept doing the jump from deciding to write something and going directly to where I thought that text, idea was going to go. So I would think, okay let’s do a tweet, or okay let’s post something to Facebook, or Google plus, or wherever else and go to that app for the task. What I really needed to do was to bring the application Drafts to the forefront and any time I want to put in some text, just dive in there. Why open Pages on the iPad.
How to use the Drafts app

Thinking differently with the application Drafts

So I dived in and worked with the application using it as a dump for any ideas and writing, bits of text I wanted to deposit into my iPad. It also works with the iPhone, but seeing as I have the iPhone 4 without the Siri dictation available, it works better for me with the iPad. So whatever I was doing I would open up Drafts and throw some text into the iPad and generally the first port of call would be Twitter. This would be because of the fact that there is the character limitation of 140 characters. So the first part of the text are put in would be short enough to send off as a tweet – possibly. I could send that out as a tweet and then I could continue adding to it and the next destination would be to send to ADN and again the limitation now was for the 256 character rule for that social network. Drafts is still quite handy for writing longer pieces for Google plus and also with Facebook. So something that has started off as a quick tweet could easily be added to and end up going to a number of different places as I add to the idea contained within that initial text.

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Technical details about Drafts app

The Drafts application has an extra row of keys on the keyboard that gives easy access to the keys you need to be able to write in markdown syntax. The extra keyboard row actually scrolls across, in effect giving two extra rows of keys. It is easy to tap on the keyboard row on the right-hand side to quickly get to the other set. This makes it very easy to do the characters necessary for headers, bold text and italic text and other useful characters.

Drafts also has the advantage of having Textexpander integrated within the application. Any Textexpander snippets that you have created either on your Mac or within the iPad, you can use within this application. This is a another bit of goodness to help a writer on iOS get the ideas quickly out of the head and onto the digital page.

Drafts on iOS

Sending your text to different places

You start by tapping the share button in the top right-hand corner and then choosing where you want the text to go to. You will have linked to your Drafts application to the various social networks, so just tap on the destination and away it goes. There is a notification to let you know that you have sent to a particular place and you can choose whether you want the text to stay onscreen and is still available to add to or just to send to somewhere else, within the preferences. The way that I have mine set up is so that I get a fresh empty screen if I go back to it after 60 seconds. It is also possible to decide whether you want the text you have input into Drafts, either be archived within the application or deleted. It could well be that you don’t want to keep the text in any form that you have put into, for example Twitter and upon a successful post to Twitter from Drafts, the text will be deleted. I just prefer to let it all be archived and do any tidying up at a later stage if necessary.

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Customising Drafts with various sorts of actions

The application Drafts comes with a number of destinations already set up for you and there is a certain amount of customisation that you can do with these defaults. There is also a possibility of setting up new destinations and even downloading actions that other people have created that you can further customise and use yourself. So for example, you might use the action which will send the text that you have within the text entry window to OmniFocus. Another possibility is to have the text sent to a single file in the form of an appended or prepended entry and a typical use for something like that would be a journal. The best part of this is that you’re able to use text entry codes to allow you to add predefined text, Textexpander snippets and built-in codes such as the one that puts in the date. It is fairly simple automation for iOS, but it is incredibly useful. You can make email actions, Dropbox actions, Message actions, Evernote actions and URL actions. This allows you to have connections between the Drafts application and other apps on your iOS devices.

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NoStylus is a convert to the Drafts app way of working

So as you can tell from this review of the Drafts application, I am most definitely a convert to the to this way of thinking with regards text entry on iOS. It is quite efficient to be able to use portions of text in multiple destinations and have it changed by merely adding more text to the original starting point. So now I don’t think about things in terms of, it is time to do some Twitter or some Facebook, my starting point is the idea contained within my text that might have no specific destination, or on the other hand multiple destinations. If I was intending to work on something more specific, such as an idea for a novel that is going to be a longer piece of writing altogether, then probably I would open up the application Byword. That would keep me concentrating my efforts in one definite direction, although I would most likely also have Drafts easily available so that I could do some of the more nebulous writing work that all of us tend to want to do these days. I can thoroughly recommend the use of the Drafts application, especially on account of the fact that it is so customisable with the various actions you can add.

Getting in the groove with the BossJock iOS app

I always wanted to be a DJ or a performance artist

There is a new app for iOS as I have just got my hands on called BossJock and it is just made for anybody that wants to be a DJ or once to record their own radio show. For the younger members of the audience, a radio show was something that put out across the airwaves in the days before podcasts. With this application BossJock, whose name comes from what they used to call the best DJs who were really rocking it, you can add sounds to a cart and play them as and when you need them.

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So the first step when using BossJock is to fill up the buttons in the cart with sounds and these can be bumpers, stingers, jingles, sound beds and pre-recorded interviews. So you might put down a musical sound bed or or a background audio which could lead people to believe that you were in an airport terminal or at a party. You can hit the button to play the jingle to start your radio show, podcast and as the jingle fades away you can press the microphone button and start talking over the top to your audience. I say over the top because when you press the microphone button to cue in your microphone the sounds that are underneath will be ducked so that your voice will take precedence.

When you’re pressing your buttons to add your bumpers and the stingers you get some fade in and fade out as the sound is used. This way you get a nice smooth transition from the sounds as you use them and it is amazing how easily it is to sound really quite professional and like a proper DJ. If there are sounds that you want to use throughout the whole of your podcast you can adjust settings and make them sounds which loop. Then there is a setting which will do a auto rewind and what this does is to put the sound back at the beginning even if you are only played it a part way through.

When you really get into using this application you can use the volume sliders which are to the right hand side of the screen to adjust the volume for the microphone, the cart and also for the mix. You can make these volume adjustments on the fly in case you have something that you want to manually fade out or fade back in. More fun than just making a plain recording in Twisted Wave audio editor It is more of a performance. The BossJock app also works on the iPhone, obviously you don’t get as many places for storing the audio clips.

At last – Twisted Wave a good iOS audio editor

I did try out another audio editor for iOS and it well wasn’t very good, because it had a weird sort of interface. I also have a number of audio recording applications on my iPad and iPhone, but none of them were any good for editing audio. I had seen that there was the application called Twisted Wave, but I had hesitated in buying it, as it was going to cost nine euros to buy. In the end I realised that it was good value for money if it gave me what I needed in order to be able to properly and efficiently edit audio on iPad. The main requirements I have for an audio editor for iPad or iPhone use is that it should have a visualisation of the audio waveform. I need to be able to see the audio in the app interface so that I can do what I need to do. It is so much easier when you can see where the spaces are in the audio track for when you need to select areas of audio. I have been using my iRig microphone with TwistedWave.

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Editing audio on iOS with Twisted Wave

The view that you have of the editing space in Twisted Wave is clean and functional. There is a row of icons at the bottom of the screen space that allow you to do all you need to do with your audio. The usual play, pause, stop and record and then you have things like fade in and fade out; cut, copy and paste; redo and undo and then you have your crop tool. The other icon which is to the far right allows you to put on the device clipboard any audio that you have selected, so that it can be used in other audio applications that you might have installed. On the Mac there is a version of Twisted Wave but I already have AmadeusPro bought and paid for.

Twisted Wave


In the bottom left hand corner you have a button giving access to settings and it is just as colourful as all of the other icons for the controls. This is where you can choose the effects that are available, such as amplify and normalise. You will also find options to add silence to your track, filters, delay, a dynamics processor and an option to change pitch and speed. You can even take the selected part or the whole track and make it play in reverse.

Using Twisted Wave to share your iOS audio recordings

There is the usual share button available for you to send your iOS audio recordings out to the world. From here you can choose the format of the audio that you send out and you have eight different formats available to use, both lossless such as the AAC format and the Wave format as well as the compressed format of MP3. You can also choose the compression bit depth from that same menu.

From the export audio drop-down menu you can send to iTunes, FTP upload, send by email, send to dropbox, send a selection to a new document or to open in another application. You could send to an audio notetaking app. A particularly good option from this menu is to Send to Soundcloud and this is useful because from there you can have it sent out to things like Facebook, Tumblr and anything else you have set up within Soundcloud. It would be nice to have the option there also, to send to Audioboo. I have used this to send audio to iMovie for iPad.

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The NoStylus verdict on a Twisted Wave

I really like this iOS audio recording application as it is simple to use and does just about all that I ask of it. If you are a user of Soundcloud, it is extra useful for sharing out whatever you record as audio on iOS. It is only a single track audio editor and it would be nice if at some point in time it would be possible to have multiple tracks of audio. That would make it much more useful to podcasters that use audio effects and bumpers along with their voice recordings. I believe though that there is a specialised podcasting app that could do that for you. That is called Caster and I hear it is not that good. There are other Digital Audio Workstation apps for iOS you can look at. Twisted Wave gets a big thumbs up from NoStylus.

Pencil Camera for iPad

This is an application for adding filters to your photos on the iPad. It can be photos that you have taken already and are in your camera roll, or it can be photos that you are about to take. In fact, these artistic filters can also be applied to iPad video . These will be the sort of filters that you could expect to find in something like Instagram and in terms of general usage should be used sparingly. If every photo that you shared online in the various places for sharing used these filters, then it could get very old hat, incredibly quickly.

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A wooden interface for Pencil Camera

Pencil Camera HDI suppose to a certain extent the interface does look quite nice, but at the same time I don’t think it makes full use of the design possibilities that are available within iOS. Do you really need the illusion of carved wood on the sliders for the exposure, contrast and line quality? Is it really necessary to have the ripped paper frame around the photos that you are working on? Despite the overuse of the wood theme the application is okay to look as and pretty easy to use. You get an immediate feedback on the changes that you make using the sliders and also when you are changing from one filter to another.

Read about Ink Artist iPad

Pink glasses and Life on Mars?

You can tap on a button and pick your filter and choose how you want to enhance or destroy your photo, starting with a water colour effect. You have 18 filters to choose from and you can only choose them one at a time. The only way to have a cumulative effect with your filters would be to save an image out with one effect upon it, bring it back in again and apply another. Whether you are using one filter effect or more than one, it is possible to come up with some quite interesting looking images.

Some of the filters work by adding a texture to the overall image and then some other filters work more by finding the edges in the image. When those edges in the image are found by this application for your iPad, it does things like thickening up lines for emphasis. You can get some sorts of effects that imitate the use of watercolour or crayons and it can also make your photo look like it was drawn with soft pencils.

PencilCamera HD

Hipster culture and video

There was the movie called ‘A Scanner Darkly’ that had Keanu Reeves in it, that was Roto scoped to give a weird moving cartoon effect to the standard filmed movie shots . It was very strange to watch this movie with it being not normal video and neither was it cartoon. When you shoot video using Pencil Camera for iPad, something similar happens with the action looking stranger the more you crank up the settings. Not something that you would want to do very often, but could be entertaining if used sparingly.

The NoStylus verdict on Pencil Camera

The effects that you get are quite specialised and are likely to only be useful in occasional circumstances. Despite that, the application is quite useful and fun to play with. I would recommend that you give Pencil Camera HD a try and see if it fits in artistically with what you want to do with your photos and video.

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