Writing Aid

3 March 2014

Writing Aid, App Store:

Writer’s block is a phenomenon that affects everyone. Know what you want to say but forgotten how to express it? Just can’t remember what this word means?

Writing Aid can relieve this frustration. Instantly search for definitions and synonyms just like a standard dictionary. However, Writing Aid can also find words when you search for meanings. So a search for ‘green blue color’ returns suggestions like ‘turquoise’ or ‘aquamarine’. Similarly, typing ‘inventing new things’ returns words such as ‘candelabra’ and ‘sconce’.

These words share the same meaning but make your writing more sophisticated and more elegant.

You wouldn’t want to write on your iPhone, but that doesn’t mean your iPhone can’t help you write.

No ads. No fuss. Just the words.

Dictionary apps on the App Store are bad. They look ugly, they are crammed full of banner ads and just aren’t made with user experience in mind. Gimmicky items like Word of the Day just clutter the layout. Many haven’t been updated for iOS 7’s aesthetic style. In fact, some dictionary apps even run off freemium business models. As crazy as it seems, I saw one app that made you pay extra to search for words longer than seven letters in length.

I built Writing Aid out of frustration. I didn’t want to deal with this unnecessary mess. When you launch the app, the focus is in the search bar. There’s nothing else onscreen. Definitions and synonyms1 are found in an instant, as soon as you tap Search.

But then, you can go further. Writing Aid includes a ‘reverse dictionary’ too — lookup meanings to find words with those meanings. If you ever hit a writer’s block about how to express a particular phrase more eloquently, Writing Aid will help. Just search for a phrase like ‘feeling of helplessness’ and suggestions such as ‘depression’ and ‘languor’ flow onscreen … accompanied by a super-satisfying bounce animation.

What’s nice is that this additional functionality doesn’t require additional buttons or visual clutter. If you search for a word, you get a dictionary and synonym lookup. If you search for a phrase (that is, multiple words) the app automatically performs a reverse-lookup.

The combination of these features turn Writing Aid into a truly-helpful tool when writing essays, blog posts or even novels. I write on my laptop and keep my iPhone next to me when I hit a writer’s block and need some inspiration.

I don’t expect this to become the number one dictionary app on the store; only a small fraction of the App Store population will pay for the additional convenience, beauty and elegance. Conveying the benefits of the ‘reverse dictionary’ is tough. However, I am hopeful it will do well. Writing Aid is available for $0.99.

Please contact me via email or Twitter if you have any support queries or other feedback.

1 Synonyms flow past on a infinite-scrolling loop ticker, reminiscent of the iOS 6 Stocks widget in Notification Center. I’m really proud of this interaction — it works really well.