I am happy to report that Apple finally got something right with iOS8. The JIS wireless keyboard problem I had been blogging about seems to have been fixed once and for all!
All the apps that have not worked with an external keyboard now seems to work. I have tested so far
- Byword (on which I am writing this post)
- Adobe Reader
all work perfectly with the wireless keyboard!
If you haven’t update your iOS version yet I suggest you do so. The improvements are important. Why it has taken this long is anybody’s guess.
UX Write is an iOS app for really serious word processing. There are five big reasons why you want to use this for, say, writing a PhD thesis.
Firstly, since February 2013 UX Write has been the best .docx supported app for the iOS. This means what you write in UX Write can be used directly in your Windows PC Microsoft Word program. Without exaggeration no other app can claim to support .docx this well.
Secondly, Auto-correct works even with an external wireless keyboard. Even Apple’s own word processing app Pages cannot do this at the moment. For now most iOS apps used to an external keyboard just does not work with auto-correct even though the touchscreen keyboard does. Why Apple cannot make this work with external keyboards even after so many complaints is baffling.
Thirdly, relating again to the keyboard is UX Write’s support for
non-English layout keyboards [Update: all apps now work with JIS layout keyboards after the iOS8 update. I am not sure of other language layout keyboards but I presume Apple has fixed this problem across board.]. While Pages does support this it fails in autocorrection (effectively rendering keyboard input less useful). All word processing apps will connect to the keyboard but because of the lack of understanding of keyboard standards only a handful will actually recognise a non-English keyboard’s layout. UX Write is one of these.
Fourthly, UX Write has a useful control system for the cursor to help accurately manipulate it. Even with external keyboard it can be brought up by summoning the touchscreen keyboard.
And finally, UX Write syncs easily with cloud storage services like Dropbox smoothly. It even has a file manager like interface to help you navigate your storage’s directories. In turn you file is ready for use on your PC without any need to download or convert the file to .docx. This is very slick and boosts productivity on the iPad as well as across your devises and work environment.
As a standalone product UX Write is already very nice to use. But the entire cross-platform support experience makes it ultimately very useful. It baffles me then why the UX Write creators have not highlighted these features with lights and bells since they are the ones which everyone using Windows are looking for. To cap these reasons make it a great app:
- High level of .docx support (perhaps the highest level)
- Auto-correct with external keyboard (no other word processing app to my knowledge supports this)
- Non-English language layout external keyboards supported (North American monolingual developers are guilty of non-support)
- Excellent cursor navigation system
- Sync and file management top rate, raising productivity across the entire computing ecosystem
Because the app was produced from scratch many features were not just ports from established designs like Microsoft Word or Pages but were thought through for the iOS/iPad environment. It also demotes print layout in word processing to below content, a shrewd move in the flexible layout environment of today’s devices. By doing so it made making compatibility to Word and .docx possible thus bring together two systems which were once quite separate.
I can’t believe it’s true but autocorrect works while using an external keyboard with the UX Write app for iPad!! That’s right folks! For some reason this feature is not highlighted by its creator and it is nowhere to be found on the official website. Nor have I seen much mention of it in discussion forums about the impossibility of getting external keyboards to work with autocorrection even though this is exactly what everyone has been looking for. It is possibly the only writing productivity app that does this right now even in 2014.
On top of that it works in the free basic version! Wow!
Here are some of the other features which I have liked so far with the Basic Version:
One has to stunned as to why Apple’s Pages cannot do some or all of these things as well as UX Write. It may be well worth the money at $24.99 (or try for a one month subscription for $0.99). I am going to test some more before making the one-off payment. But what I have seen so far I think this one is a real winner.