Two New Improvements for Mobile Authors

Mobile Authors being defined as those who compose some or all of their work on mobile devices. I created this category for myself and others because I can (when properly motivated) crank out 300-500 words on the train to and from work. It’s not much, but I’ve been doing it somewhat consistently, and it’s enough to at least keep things moving forward…

And tech companies continue to make it easier to work on the go…

Apple made a minor improvement in iOS 4.2 by adding the ability to use ‘Helvetica’ in the built-in Notes app instead of the silly ‘Marker Felt’. This is good because I have found that the basic functionality of Notes is sometimes all you need to just get the words written down.

Google Docs has a made a more significant improvement, allowing editing of docs on mobile devices. I’ve edited Google spreadsheets before, but I guess editing “Documents” is a new thing. I tried it and it works pretty well. It’s nice that it’s saved automatically to your Google Docs account, so you don’t have to worry about dropping your phone and losing a bunch of work if you haven’t emailed your latest writings to yourself.

The drawback here may be that same advantage, though. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m not sure how (or if) it will work when the train goes through the areas that don’t have an internet connection. And that’s minor compared to the more interesting question: How do you open a doc to edit it if you don’t have an internet connection at all? Perhaps on Android devices there’s a way to store docs locally and sync up when you have an internet connection, but unless there’s some HTML5 magic going on in the Safari version, it’s not going to work so well on the iPhone.

Whatever the case, though, it’s probably the most mainstream option available to Mobile Authors who want automatic syncing/backup. Other lesser known options include: SimpleNote (which I will review soon), which boasts the ability to compose offline and sync when the phone has a connection, and PlainText which uses DropBox to sync your notes (an extra step, perhaps, but really, shouldn’t you be backing all your work up with Dropbox in the first place?). All of these options (Notes and Google Docs included) require copying and pasting from the source into the Word doc (or sometimes Open Office) that I use to amass scenes into chapters and into larger “parts”. Guess if I really want maximum efficiency, I’d get a Windows 7 phone so I could edit Word docs on my phone and get them synced through to my computer automatically. But then I’d have to get a Windows 7 phone. Hrm.

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