Writebox (for iPad) review

The minimalist text editing app Writebox (for iPad) lets you create or edit .txt documents with ease and elegance. It can connect to Dropbox, but no other storage services.
Photo of Writebox (for iPad)

If you’re searching for a great note-taking app for your iPad, and having a distraction-free writing environment is one of your needs, Writebox ($1.99) offers a clean interface and connectivity with Dropbox for storage. Distraction-free editors offer a highly pared down experience, ditching formatting and other features in the name of simplicity, so don’t expect Writebox to come with any bells and whistles. Price-wise, it’s on par with the ad-free version of PlainText ($1.99, free for ad supported version), although Writebox comes with a couple of value-adds.

For starters, it also works as a Web app and Chrome app (free), so you can always get at your notes from any browser when you have an Internet connection. Second, although it does maintain a distraction-free view, it adds a tiny character count at the bottom of the right corner of the screen, should you need to keep an eye on length. But, similar to PlainText, Writebox only integrates with Dropbox for additional storage, and both apps would benefit from expanding their reach to other cloud storage solution providers.

Getting Started
When you first visit buy and install the Writebox iPad app, you’ll be asked to sign into your Dropbox account. To use Writebox, you don’t need a Writebox account of any kind (simplicity at its finest), but when you connect to Dropbox, the app does require total access to all your folders. There’s no way to restrict it to only certain folders.

The app’s interface is extraordinarily clean. A small top-line menu bar has two buttons on the left (a button that opens the storage pane, and a new file button) and three on the right (two circling arrows that reverts an active file to its last saved state, a share, and a sync button. The share button curiously hides a few features that have nothing to do with sharing; more on that in a moment.

Other than that, you’ll see a big, blank screen, where you can type. When you have an active document, you’ll see two more features, both of which I like quite a bit. One is a set of arrows for moving the cursor forward or backward one space at a time, for those of us who have a hard time manipulating the cursor using the press-and-hold magnifying glass feature in iOS. The second addition is a small running character count in the bottom right of the screen. In the Web app, you also see line and word counts, and can suppress all the number if you don’t like to see them. In the iPad app, you only see characters, and there’s no way to turn it off.

Customization and Use
Customization options, which are confusingly hidden behind the share button, are minimal, but some are quite necessary, such as being able to change the colors of the text and background, increase or decrease the point size, and adjust the typeface. You can’t change the amount of space between lines in the iPad app, although you can in the Web app.

From the storage pane button in Writebox, you can navigate your entire Dropbox folder structure and save new text files anywhere you’d like. Among existing files, only .txt formatted documents will appear, though, as it’s the only file type supported by the simple app.

When you get to typing and editing in Writebox, the storage navigation pane disappears to leave you with a very basic editing area, the idea being you won’t be distracted from anything in the app and can focus on writing. Press the sync button, and your changes will be pushed to Dropbox.

Writebox for Simply Writing
For a $1.99 app, Writebox for iPad is an inexpensive text-editing tool that keeps distractions out of sight. Writebox is only available for iOS, Chrome, and the Web at the moment, although the latter two work well and save documents reliably from virtually any Internet-enabled platform. While some iPad owners might be peeved to pay for an app that’s otherwise free, at least the price is reasonable and in line with other apps of its ilk. Writebox certainly holds its own as a distraction-free text editor, bearing in mind that it’s already quite a niche product. It would be a much more useful app if it supported more syncing and storage solutions beyond Dropbox.


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Specifications
Type Business, Personal

Verdict
The minimalist text editing app Writebox (for iPad) lets you create or edit .txt documents with ease and elegance. It can connect to Dropbox, but no other storage services.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc