iA Writer touts itself as one of those distraction free writing environments. Whether you think the terminology to describe these kind of apps is gimmicky, there is some merit to it. I’ve only ever tried one other full-screen writing app on my Mac, and that was OmmWriter Dãna. Of course there has been a healthy amount of competition in this productivity app space, and we’re seeing more of these kinds of apps all the time in the App Store.
There’s a lot to love about iA Writer, but I must say it won’t be for everyone. If you’re looking for a robust Markdown editor with Markdown preview, or an endless choice of fonts this is certainly not the right app for you. What you should expect though is a painstakingly well thought out writing environment. The font of choice here is Nitti Light, which is absolutely gorgeous. This font is exquisite for writing, but also doubles as an excellent and highly readable monospaced font.
Initially I scoffed at the idea of not having the choice to at least change font sizes, but I found the way it ships looks perfect. Of course, what looks perfect for me may not work for you, so don’t email me complaining about this if you bought it.
iCloud syncing, document versioning, and full screen support all work exceptionally well on OS X Lion. If you pick up the iPad app as well, any documents you you were working on will be available immediately there, thanks in part to seamless iCloud syncing. There’s only one other major feature, and that’s called Focus Mode. Focus softly mutes previously written text in a subtle grey colour, allowing you to focus on the current sentence you’re writing–this is very cool.
iA Writer may not be for everyone, but for a mere pittance, you can grab yourself a highly useful, simple and elegant app made for writers.
I have to hand it to Oliver Reichenstein, the author of iA Writer, he is very selective about what features make it into the app. It’s refreshing to see someone approach this kind of app with a minimal set of highly polished features. If you read some of his answers to the iA Writer FAQs, you will get some insight into his way of thinking on what an ideal writing app should be like.
If you want to read a more in-depth review on iA Writer, I highly recommend you check out Justin Blanton’s piece as well.