The Daedalus text editor for the iPad is easy to use, full of features, and feels just right on the iPad. The metaphor is stacks of paper, just like in real life. This app is a joy to use and perfectly intuitive.
Some ideas are brilliant, not because they’re original but because the tough work is done behind the scenes to make things incredibly easy for the user. (For some background on that, TMO interviewed the author at WWDC recently.)
Swipe through the stacks, L-R.
Dadelus presents a blank stack of paper on the screen. The tile of the stack is your first line of text. Want a new page? Just populate the next blank page. Want to delete a page? Just delete all the text, and the stack closes up. (It’s like the iPad pages of apps. Once a page has no apps, that page drops off the end.)
There is no Save function. Your stack is always saved in its current state. But if you want to delete a stack (of faux paper), just select it and use the action button.
Stacks open to an array of pages.
Even though the app is deceptively simple to get going with, it’s packed with features that nicely lurk just beneath the surface. They’re out of your way when you write, but just a touch away. Let’s take a look.
- Stacks and sheets instead of folders and files.
- Sort the pages. (Just touch and drag.)
- Global search.
- Extra Button bar above keyboard for special keys. (To configure, press and hold the key down.)
- Syncs with DropBox.
- Email a stack.
- Word and Character count.
- Export as .TXT, .PDF, or .EPUB
- Supports iPad dictation mode.
- Google, Wikipedia and dict.cc integration/search.
- Print (Interfaces nicely to Printopia)
- Can Process Markdown annotations when exporting to EPUB or PDF.
- Multiple choices for page appearance: (Console, Dark, Light, Sepia)
- Localized to English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish
In the current version, 1.3.1, there is limited font control. The developer told me, “Daedalus does have only three fonts in two sizes, this is correct. Those are hand-tuned and manually adjusted to have the best reading/writing experience. We are considering adding one more font and/or one or two more sizes but this will not change in 1.4.”
I noticed that the Button Bar quote marks are “low-high”. At first, I thought this might be a concession to German usage in an English context, but it’s actually just a minor bug, according to the developer. That can be reconfigured, so it’s a very minor thing, and the iPad’s keyboard also has what you need.
Export options are impressive.
What I liked about Daedalus is its fluidity. Some other text editors fall prey to traditional methods, even though they’re in the context of the iPad. Daedalus paves whole new ground in simplicity and ease of use by cleverly invoking the cleverest APIs of iOS. And yet, essential external functions are there and nicely integrated. For example, when a stack is synced to Dropbox, there’s a nice annotation on the front page with a date-time stamp.
I also liked the cascading metaphor. To open a stack, you unpinch. To read a page, you also unpinch. Reversing your steps, you just pinch, then pinch again to get back to the stacks. View the stacks by swiping. One hardly needs a manual, but included are introductory stacks that step you through usage anyway. With proper context here and all seriousness, you’ll feel like a kid exploring a new toy.
Daedalus requires iOS 5.0 or later and is compatible with any iPad.
Button Bar of special keys is configurable. Includes Forward delete.
Do I Recommend it?
Completely. Daedalus is now my default, preferred text editor on the iPad. The design, sheets of paper in a stack, is so eerily familiar, so human, you’d think it was designed by super-smart aliens who know us better than we do. In fact, however, we simply owe our thanks to The Soulmen in Markkleeberg, Germany.
Update [June 28, 2012]
The developer says that Daedalus 1.4 will utilize some EPUB v3 features.