Note-taking and Writing Apps for iPhone and iPad

iA Writer for iPad
iA Writer for iPad

Sometimes it’s hard to find ideas for a new blog post, short story or a poem. That’s why it’s so important to catch them at the moment they come to mind.

Mobile devices are a great way to capture ideas, no doubt about it. You’ve got a mobile phone always with you. It’s much quicker to start writing ideas on a tablet than a computer.

Most smartphone or tablet users will probably agree that those devices are not meant to write and publish a complete piece of work. You can write draft posts, scratch new ideas, or list topics to be included in a presentation. You can and should develop them on a computer if you want to work with text effectively.

That’s why syncing is one of the most important features of any note-taking or writing application. It gives the opportunity to access your work from any device and to make your writing as productive as possible.


Available for: iPhone, iPad | Syncing: Gmail | Price: free | Default app

The default iOS note-taking application. Users usually neglect it as it’s very basic. Many still don’t know that the app can sync files via Gmail account. All updated notes are stored in a Gmail account, under a Notes tab. More details in this post.

If you write notes from time to time and need a simplest possible way to do it, you won’t need probably anything more advanced than Notes.


Available for: iPhone, iPad | Syncing: Evernote | Price: free | App Store link

The most powerful and advanced note-taking, idea-grabbing solution for iOS. You can add not only text, but also audio and photo notes. Access them via web browser and Mac or PC applications.

To start using the app you have to sign up to Evernote. A free account allows for 60MB of data transfer per month. Offline note-taking is not enabled, but you can send notes to your account via e-mail, to a special address created for your Evernote account.

With Evernote, you are either a powerful user or don’t use it at all. Premium account costs $5 a month or $45 a year. A comparison of features is available on this page.


Available for: iPhone, iPad | Syncing: Simplenote | Price: free | App Store link

Evernote made easy. The app is very simple to use, yet has all the features you would need. You can access and edit your notes from a web browser as well as many third-party apps and add-ons, listed here. You can publish a note and it will be available at a unique url address. You can also share the note with others by tagging it with their e-mail addresses.

A free account is ad-supported. The ads are not intrusive, but if you want to remove them, you have to spend $19.99 a year or $1.99 a month for an upgrade to Premium account – which also enables Dropbox sync and writing notes by e-mail.

Awesome Note (+Todo)Awesome Note (+Todo)

Available for: iPhone, iPad | Syncing: Google Docs, Evernote | Price: iPhone – free or $3.99, iPad – $4.99 | App Store links: iPhone, iPad

Note taking application and to-do manager in one. Out of all applications featured in this post this one has the best design and richest personalization options. You can change not only a font but also a theme to match the type of note.

I’ve used the app for some time as I’m very keen to be connected with Google Docs ecosystem – and Awesome Note can sync with it. It’s not perfect, though, as you can only do it manually. It’s good to remember to sync before you open and after you finish your note to make sure you don’t lose anything.

To use Awesome Note on both iPad and iPhone you have to buy two separate versions.


Available for: iPhone, iPad | Syncing: no | Price: free | App Store link

The official application of the legendary Moleskine notebooks. It’ll surprise you with a modern UI concept and design. You can draw sketches as well as add pictures and labels from a large selection of Moleskine icons. You can also geotag your notes.

There is no sync functionality, so the only way to use notes on another device is to send them as an e-mail to yourself.


Available for: iPhone, iPad | Syncing: Dropbox | Price: $4.99 | App Store link

This is how I think a writing application for mobile devices should look like. Once you open a note you can focus on writing. The design invites to write longer forms, but you can always use scratchpad to write a quick idea.

You can check word, line and character counts for every note, send a note by mail or print it. The notes are synced back to your Dropbox account as .txt files.

iA Writer for iPadiA Writer

Available for: iPad | Syncing: Dropbox | Price: $0.99 | App Store link

The application makes writing on the iPad serious. It helps you focus on writing by providing features no other app has. You can use FocusMode to concentrate on one sentence at a time.

The keyboard is tailored for writing needs – word and arrow keys as well as most used punctuation marks are available without switching. Word count and reading time is shown at the top bar. You can manually sync notes with a Dropbox account.

The overall design, typography and care for details make this app a great choice for professional writers.

Pages for iPadPages

Available for: iPhone, iPad | Syncing: iTunes File Sharing | Price: $9.99 | App Store link

The ultimate text processor for iPad. It includes Apple-designed document templates, several formatting options and advanced layout tools. You can style text, set intents and margins and insert tabs with ease.

You can import and work with Pages ’09, Word and text files. Share your work as Pages ’09, Word and pdf.

Pages includes most of the features of the desktop word processor. The only question is, whether you really need them on an iPad or iPhone.

• • •

If you are looking for ways to write and edit Google Docs on your iOS device(s), there are applications like Go Docs ($4.99) or gDocuments ($0.99). Use them with care as you can lose formatting of your original document when you open it in the app and start editing. This happened to me a couple of times. When I really need to change something in one of Google document, I’m using either Safari browser or Safari-powered G-Whizz.

My favourite app is Simplenote. You can’t write for a long time on an iPhone. iPad is not for writing a content but for curating a content. What I really needed was a simple, fast, reliable app which syncs notes across all devices seamlessly. Simplenote matches those needs perfectly.

17 Replies to “Note-taking and Writing Apps for iPhone and iPad”

  1. Very nice list. Have you tried Notability and if so, what do you think?


  2. Thanks for the tip. Haven’t tried Write 2 yet, will do soon. Simplicity is what I like most. Evernote, for instance, is too complex, noone is using its all features.


  3. Find this post truly informative. Will check some of the apps listed in here. I would like to recommend Snap-A-Note. Not the usual note-taking app, but it allows you to snap a photo of a thing or a task that you need to remember and then easily send it right at your own inbox.


  4. Hi! I understand this is quite off-topic in spite of this I had to ask. Does managing a well-established blog something like yours require plenty of work I am solely new to operating a blog however I do write in my diary daily. I’d such as to start a blog so I can share my personal experience and views on the web. Please let me be acquainted with when you have any kind of suggestions or tips for new aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!


  5. Check out the Classic Notebook app.

    It’s free right now ;)


  6. Thanks for keeping the overview
    so simple, this helps in understanding if there is a need for ipad. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful post! Keep
    posting articles like this so I can understand more about ipad.


  7. I asked for a free app to be able to write my books with and all the suggestions that were given were very costly suggestions


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