March App Review: Writing Aid

App: Writing Aid
Developer: Benjamin Mayo
Price: $0.99
Platforms: iOS

I’ve mentioned Writing Aid before, both offhandedly and while discussing my favorite Notification Center widgets.  Since I’ve talked about it so much, it seemed fitting to go ahead and do an official review.  Writing Aid starts as a very simple dictionary app that’s been stripped of a lot of unimportant features to make finding definitions as simple as possible.  Then, however, Writing Aid adds a few unique features that really make it shine.


But let’s start with the dictionary.  It’s pretty straightforward, and I love how opening the app puts your cursor right in the search box.  Searching for a word is easy and quick, and the definitions are good.  For many words, there’s a bar along the top that continually scrolls similar words, like a thesaurus (see image 3).  This is really useful.  My only (very minor) complaint is that it doesn’t work offline, but that’s not that big of a deal.

The first unique feature is what I’m going to call meaning search.  This is basically a dictionary search in reverse: when you know the meaning but can’t quite think of the word.  In the screenshot above (image 4), I searched “blue green” and got words such as “teal” and “aqua.”  Searching “person in charge” gives “head,” “guard,” and “caretaker.”  Pretty neat.

The second cool feature is the one I talked about last week, the Notification Center widget.  Every day, the widget shows you a new word and its definition.  The widget is useful, simple, and concise (read: excellent).  This is actually the reason I bought the app; I only later realized what a good dictionary it was.

In conclusion, Writing Aid is a simple app that, right off the bat, does what it promises.  After delving a little deeper, we can see that there are also some more complicated features that work great as well.  My only complaint would be that there’s no iPad version, but in reality I wouldn’t use it very much at all.  I don’t usually have my iPad with me when I’m writing, whereas I always have my iPhone.  I guess the app is fine the way it is.  ••

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