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An iPod, Dropbox and Nebulous

January 8th, 2011 Matt Leave a comment Go to comments
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I have previously waxed lyrical on the advantages of my ‘on the move’ writing setup. Of course, nothing is so perfect that it can’t be refined. Here are the latest changes to my setup.

Why my old setup sucks

Here’s a quick summary of my previous setup:

  • Dropbox. It let’s you sync any files between any kind of computer, and with the help of an app, from your iPhone or iPod touch as well. Not only does this act as a handy backup in case your computer blows up, it also let’s you take files on the move to do some reading.
  • iPod Touch. Specifically, the notes app let’s you write on the move and email the note to yourself when you’re back in range of a wifi connection (or from anywhere if you have an iPhone).

This is great an’ all, but there are one or two things missing. The biggest is that the Dropbox iPhone app does not have an editor, only a reader, so in order to get your notes in Dropbox (and therefore, shared and backed up) you have to email the note to yourself, open your emails on a computer, then save the email as a text file in your Dropbox folder.

Not the greatest hassle in the world, but it doesn’t scream convenience now does it?

Enter Nebulous

Nebulous is a great app for writing on the moveOut goes the Dropbox app on my iPod Touch, in comes Nebulous, with the following great features:

  • Save to Dropbox. I don’t need the Dropbox app, Nebulous let’s me open and save text documents, plus create new ones and upload them to my Dropbox.
  • Security. Unlike the Dropbox app, you can add a pin that you’ll be asked each time you open a Dropbox file. There is a problem with this that needs fixing however (see below).
  • Word count. Apple’s notes app does not include a word count, which I find rather annoying as I use it to track my progress. Waiting until I’ve downloaded and saved an email to see my word count is a pain.
  • Macros. For those oft-typed phrases, quick notes, code, or tricky to get to characters. This is a slidable row of shortcuts. For example, I use mine to enter HTML code like list items when I’m blogging. But you could easily add a button that inserts {NEEDS RESEARCH} as a note-to-self, for example.

Update, please

I mentioned a problem, didn’t I. Well, as great an idea as the security pin is, there is a massive hole. When it starts, Nebulous always opens up the last document you’ve been working on. This is useful, but it does so without requiring a pin, so if someone else got hold of your device, they would be able to see this information without any trouble.

This is an obvious flaw. It stands to reason that anyone wanting to use the pin feature does not want people able to view any of their documents. In my mind this makes the pin feature unfinished.

I’ll use this opportunity to urge the Nebulous developers to please fix this.

Anything else?

There is another gap in this mobile system – reading documents. Things like PDFs, that I used to read through the Dropbox app are no longer readable on my mobile device. I have not found a reader that let’s me pin-lock access to it, but if you’ve heard of one, please let me know.

Other than that, you can of course use the Dropbox app, or there’s Good Reader, which is also a fine app for this purpose.

Overall I’m pretty happy with this way of working. I’ll be very chuffed if those last few niggles are ironed out.

If you have a system for writing on the go that works for you, why not share it in the comments section? Any recommendations for mobile apps for writers are also appreciated!

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  • Jacqueline Bach

    I like Write 2 app for iPhone.
    It has full screen mode for writing & reading, PIN protection, Dropbox Auto Sync (perfect for on the go writing), Auto Text, Auto Save, etc. It’s so simple & beautiful.

    • http://getmewriting.com Matt Roberts

      Welcome to Getmewriting! Thanks or the recommendation. I will definitely check that out!