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For this review, I’m assuming you’re familiar with the desktop version of Scrivener. If not, check out my review of that program. Also, I’m working with an iPhone. I’d be interested to hear your experiences with the program on iPads!
Scrivenites have begged and pleaded for years. Give us a mobile app!
Well, the Literature and Latte powers that be have finally answered our prayers. Scrivener for iOS is here, and it’s exactly what you’d expect. Honestly, this is less of a review than it is an inside the app. Because there isn’t a lot to say about the functionality of the app I haven’t already talked about.
With that said, here are some screenshots to give you an idea of what we’re dealing with.
The view inside the project is very similar to the desktop version.
Again, the chapter view should look familiar. It's all very intuitive.
Long press to open the inspector (found on the right of the screen in the desktop version). You've also got plenty of options for sharing your project and for viewing it on the screen.
Most obvious are the missing features, at least in the iPhone version. No corkboard. No Quick Reference. Revision mode also appears to be missing, which is a big letdown for me.
But there are a few nifty features I’ve noticed in the iPhone version. You can compile directly in the app, but unless you’re an app-only user (and I’m not sure why you would be), there’s really no reason you wouldn’t wait to compile using the desktop version. I suppose compiling on mobile might be handy if you’re working with several smaller documents, but I’m assuming most of us use Scrivener for larger projects.
The app makes use of the long press to access the inspector. You can pinch to zoom, and the app transitions smoothly between portrait and landscape orientations. Overall, it does a great job converting the functionality of the desktop program to the small touchscreen.
Storage and Syncing
The app syncs with Dropbox, which works out perfectly well for me, since I’m an avid Dropbox user. It’s easy to set up a free account, if you don’t have one already (and really, you should have one anyway—keep your writing safe!). Hopefully, you don’t have more than 2 GB of Scrivener files. Otherwise you’ll need a Pro account, which costs $10/month or $100/year for 1 TB of space.
Okay, you’re all set up with Dropbox. Next step: connecting the Dropbox App to the Scrivener App. If you don’t have the Dropbox App, you can download it here:
Caveat #1: Your Scrivener files must be in one folder.
You direct the Scrivener app toward an entire folder in your Dropbox, and it will sync the whole thing. Scrivener files and non-Scrivener files alike. It will sync nothing outside of this folder.
Personally, I didn’t care for this because my organization system includes a folder for each of my projects. But in the end, I created a new folder specifically for Scrivener files and used aliases to those files in my old system. No big deal.
(If you need help creating aliases on Mac, let me know.)
Caveat #2: You can only have Scrivener open on one device at a time.
I learned this the hard way. Scrivener is open on my Mac at all times, no exceptions. When I made changes to a file in the Scrivener app while the same project was open on my Mac, the changes were lost. (Thankfully, there were no big changes.) Again, easy fix. It took me about a week, but I’ve trained myself to remember to close Scrivener before I shut my laptop.
One of the biggest downfalls of the app is the price tag. $19.99 seems a bit steep for someone who’s already shelled out $45 for the desktop version. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Scrivener is worth every bit of 45 bucks. But is the iOS version worth 20? I’m not sure. It’s convenient, no doubt. Honestly, I’m paying for the ability to open and edit my files on my phone (because all my novel files are Scrivener), not for the functionality of the app itself.
I’m not an app developer, and I’m sure tons of time and manpower went into developing and creating this thing. So who am I to say what it’s worth? But as a consumer, I’d be happier with something in the $10 range.
The big question: Is it worth buying?
Would I buy it again? Hell yeah. It’s easy to use, and the transition from desktop to iOS was seamless. It syncs using my preferred method, and it lets me access my files on the go. Do I think the price is a bit steep? Yes. Do I feel I’ve been ripped off? No. I purchased a quality product, and I’m completely happy with it. I haven’t encountered any usage issues that weren’t solved by a quick change to my personal habits, and the app is stable and keeps everything synced.
As always, Literature and Latte gets a thumbs-up from me.
If you decide to purchase Scrivener for iOS, I would really appreciate you using the link below. I get a small percentage for any purchases made through it. It ain’t gonna pay the bills, but who couldn’t use an extra cup of coffee?
Do let me know in the comments about your experience with the app! Especially the iPad version. I’m considering purchasing an iPad soon, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.