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Wordbox review: Good text editor lacking in key iOS 8 features

Write your blog post or create a document on your iPhone using this full-featured text editor.

Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani

Jason Cipriani

Contributing Writer, ZDNet

Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.

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5 min read

Wordbox won't replace your default iOS Notes app, but it will allow you to quickly write and post HTML content with ease.

wordboxjcpromo.jpg
6.7

Wordbox

The Good

Wordbox lets you create documents that can be quickly converted to HTML. Well-placed tools that sit conveniently above keyboard makes it easy to write ready-to-publish content.

The Bad

No iOS 8 support is a major oversight resulting in no iCloud Drive or third-party keyboard compatibility. The included Fleksy keyboard is buggy and out of date.

The Bottom Line

Wordbox is a solid text editor, but sorely needs iOS 8 support for easier sharing and better third-party keyboards.

It has support for Markdown (simplified text entry in order to create HTML documents), a built-in Flesky keyboard, Dropbox sync support and useful archive options. It also lets you share your work to several social blogging networks from within the app.

However, the lack of iOS 8 support (you can't backup to iCloud or use third-party keyboards) severely takes away from the user experience. Wordbox isn't a bad text editor, but any future updates will definitely need to be thoughtful about the latest iOS advances in order to be worth our time.

Wordbox is good for longer form writing (pictures)

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Managing documents

Upon first launch of the app you're presented with a series of stories and random fairy tales. These files are nothing more than placeholders, demonstrating how you can interact with the various documents.

Archiving a document is done with a swipe to the left, long-press to favorite a document (creating a shortcut atop the screen) or swipe to the right to move it to a different folder. Creating a folder is done by long-pressing on the plus sign, the same button you use to create a new text document.

The system for managing your documents is intuitive and easy to figure out. Hints pop-up along the way to guide you through various tasks (such as holding down the plus sign to create a folder), which I found helpful without being too overbearing.

Syncing documents

The only syncing option you have for accessing documents on other devices is Dropbox. You might be wondering why you can't just use iCloud Drive. Wordbox has still not been updated with support for iOS 8 so iCloud Drive is unavailable in the app.

Dropbox is a perfectly good alternative, but the process for adding Dropbox sync is confusing. After granting Wordbox authorization to your Dropbox account, you have to select a folder for the app to sync with. The only problem is, the interface doesn't tell you that fact. Instead, it shows you a list of your current folders, which gives the impression you can access your entire Dropbox account from within the app. Just be aware that you cannot -- you have to select a folder for Wordbox to use.

I would much prefer Wordbox to create its own folder in Dropbox, as most third-party apps do. This eliminates the confusing experience when connecting the services, and eliminates the need for the app to create folders named "imported files." A name that leads to more confusion, as you have no idea who or what imported those files.

Start writing

As previously mentioned, creating a new text file is simple: launch the app, tap on the plus sign and start typing.

Sitting just above the iOS keyboard are a series of shortcuts to enhance the typing experience. A shortcut to indent, format, insert photos and quickly copy or paste items streamline frequently used commands that would normally require multiple interactions.

Markdown syntax, for those unfamiliar, offers simplified text entry in order to create HTML documents. For example, you can bold a word by putting an asterisk on each end instead of using HTML code.

The end result is a cleaner reading experience, especially when proofreading a document, with less effort to create full HTML documents.

In addition to Markdown, the app also features a blue button that sits atop the keyboard. This button, dubbed the "magical scroll button" acts a control for the cursor in the text field. Instead of tapping around the screen, trying to place the cursor in just the right spot, you simply place your finger on the button and move the cursor akin the old school pointing stick that used to be common place in the middle of a laptop's keyboard.

Tapping on the button will bring up text editing options such as select or copy and paste.

The button works as advertised, making it easy to move the cursor around and thereby eliminating a common pain point of any touch-only operating system.

When you're done with a document, you can export it as an HTML document, a PDF or plaintext.

Publishing

Wordbox supports three of the major blogging platforms: Tumblr, Wordpress.com and Blogger. After connecting your respective account to the app, you can publish directly from within any text document.

The process for publishing, at least to my Tumblr account, was a bit confusing. Tapping on the share button, then selecting Tumblr would bring up a dialogue asking for tags to attach to the post. Below that is a list of the two blogs I have under my account, but what the app doesn't tell you is that tapping on your blog name instantly publishes your post.

The lack of clear communication to the user regarding at what point a post is published is problematic. In testing I unknowingly published the same post three different times in an attempt to figure out what exactly was occurring when I tapped on a blog's name.

Fleksy keyboard

One of Wordbox's main features is its offering of native support for popular third-party keyboard Fleksy. When support was originally announced in the app, third-party keyboards weren't available for iOS so it was a pretty big deal. But since that time, Apple announced iOS 8 with native support for keyboards throughout the entire operating system. This added functionality all but eliminates the need for Wordbox to leave support for Fleksy in the app.

Alas, it's still there, and bugs are present throughout when using this out-of-date Fleksy keyboard. Support for Fleksy needs to be updated or completely removed from the app. In my testing, I would type a few words, then the cursor would jump to another section of text on its own. Thankfully, it's an optional feature you never have to use and can turn off in the settings.

Conclusion

Wordbox is a text editor that mostly does what it's supposed to, but it would greatly benefit from an update that incorporates iOS 8 features. iCloud Drive would eliminate the confusing Dropbox support and the app wouldn't need the buggy Fleksy support now that you can choose keyboards in iOS 8.

Though it has its flaws, Wordbox is still an upgrade over basic note-taking apps and could definitely be useful for writing on the go.

wordboxjcpromo.jpg
6.7

Wordbox

Score Breakdown

Setup 7Features 6Interface 7Performance 7
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