We’ve gone over our best picks for note taking apps before, and in most cases, those apps will get the job done if you just need to write out a to-do list or jot down a recipe. Like with anything else, though, our smartphones and tablets are replacing everything else, and sometimes you may want to use one to write down something a little longer than a memo, especially if you’re the type to bring a Bluetooth keyboard along with your tablet.
You definitely won’t be writing your next great screenplay in Google Keep, so we’ve compiled a list of the best available writing and journalistic apps available on the Play Store. If you’re looking for something more robust to keep a journal or to write out a longer paper that needs careful formatting, these will be better options than the tons of short note apps that you probably already have on your phone.
Journey is an app that narrows in on helping you keep a journal and log of what you’re doing each day. It offers tons of features that you can’t get from a pen and paper, and the interface and design is good enough that it fits in perfectly with Google’s own crop of apps and services. The app gives you a blank slate to write in, plus support for full markdown and formatting, and syncs everything through Google Drive. If you use multiple devices, like a phone, tablet, and laptop, it’s great for keeping things tied together. There’s Android Wear support in Journey, too.
The premise for Journey is simple, but it really shines in how well it details what you’re logging. Each entry will track your location and the weather, which makes it great as a travel companion, and you can include one video or photo in your entries, if you’re a visual person. The level of detail is nice, and the entire experience feels like a great blend of journal writing and scrapbooking.
Journey really shines when it gets down to its text editing, though. It’s as close to distraction-free writing as you can get, but with the full markdown support, it’s incredibly easy to get things formatted just how you like them. The app has support for tons of fonts, including a few exclusive fonts of their own, plus a night mode, keyboard shortcuts, and some back-end features like daily reminders to write, publishing to blogs or social media, and passcode support for privacy.
The app is free, with an in-app purchase to unlock some of the cooler features like markdown shortcuts and night mode. There’s also a Chrome app, and the Android app scales equally well on phones and tablets. Journey offers a universal solution for your creative writing outlet without many compromises, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
JotterPad takes a different approach to writing and tries to focus more on the actual writing, and less on the concept of keeping a journal and tracking things. The app is actually made by the same developers as Journey, so there are similarities and a small amount of overlap between the two, but each one excels at different things, depending on the kind of writing you do.
The app extends the concept of a distraction-free writing mode and offers a completely de-cluttered way to write. You’ll still get access to an extended keyboard, complete with keyboard shortcuts, markdown support, and tons of formatting options. And if you’re picky about your typefaces, JotterPad has tons of different options to tweak spacing and font options, which is great. You’ll also get a night mode, plus a few different other features that cater towards how you see your work.
JotterPad has an export option for just about everything, including being able to save files to Dropbox and to export them as plain text files, PDF files, the option to markdown to HTML, plus other formats. In-app purchases unlock a handful of other cool features, including some visual-only effects like typewriter scrolling, but other useful tricks like a thesaurus and document backups.
JotterPad is a pretty powerful text editor no matter what kind of work you’re doing. For a free app, it’s another one you should definitely be testing out.
Day Journal is an app that offers a solid alternative to Journey, especially if you’re looking for something a little more bare bones. The app offers a slick, easy way to track multiple journal entries, plus photos and other information. The interface is fantastic and plays nicely with Google’s newer Material Design standards, so if you’re a stickler for how your apps look, this app will fit in perfectly.
The app is set up to remind you every so often to jot down what’s going on, and it keeps up with your location and the local weather in the background. Like Journey, it’s able to show you your locations from each entry, so if you travel often, that can be a fantastic feature to have.
Navigating through the app is a breeze thanks to floating buttons and different view styles. Day Journal gives you the option to view your entries chronologically, by location, or by browsing through a calendar to select specific days. You can also look through photos to find specific entries and info, and there’s a search function if you’re looking for something very specific. To top it off, the app offers a few different colors and themes to match your mood. Customization is always a plus.
Day Journal has several export and share functions, so you’ll be able to get your data out to tons of social media sites or backed up to your device or cloud storage. The pro features are also nice to have, including being able to use multiple photos or audio for entries, widget support, and writing statistics.
Draft is another app that helps to tackle general writing and doesn’t focus too much on day-to-day experiences. The app really shines as a productivity tool, since the interface stores your notes in different folders and subfolders. This might not be useful for the casual writer, but if you’re managing large projects, the extra level of organization is a great tool.
When it comes down to writing, Draft offers the same level of text editing markdown that you’d expect from similar apps. There’s a full toolbar with several shortcuts, plus an optional full-screen mode to compete with other apps’ distraction-free writing modes. The app also has a quick note function, which is great if you need to jot down something quickly without digging into a full, new page, and without going out to another app like Evernote or something else.
Draft also has some more basic functionality that puts it somewhere in between a dedicated writing app and a note taking app, since it will let you create quick notes and do things like to-do lists. That might seem like clutter to some, but as a productivity app, it’s another tool for project management that really puts Draft ahead of the pack in certain situations. The interface also isn’t bad, and has a few different basic color themes to pick from.
Draft can create notes with all of the common file extensions you’d expect, and it has Dropbox syncing on the back-end so you won’t lose your stuff when you change devices, which is a nice touch. Toss in the fact that Draft is completely free with no in-app purchases, and it’s definitely worth a spin.
While Google doesn’t specifically have any apps for keeping a journal or writing out a novel, it’s hard to argue against how versatile its Office Apps suite is. Google Docs, specifically, offers a ton of functionality, and is one of the simplest text editors available.
Docs is one of the closest things you’ll get to a full desktop text editor on your Android device, including its ability to read and export to tons of different (even proprietary) formats and the wide range of formatting tools it offers. It may not have quite as many font or markdown options as other apps, but it’s integration with Google’s suite of Office apps can likely overcome that for some users. Plus, the immediate synchronization with Google Drive and ability to easily share files with others is a major plus, not to mention its one of the only ways to read Microsoft Word files on Android.
Another big advantage to Google Docs is its baked in collaboration features. That may not be useful for everyone, but if you’re working on a project or writing something in a group, it’s incredibly useful to be able to let others edit things on the fly, and using the built-in comments feature is useful for communicating through a document. Google also offers simple ways to organize your text documents in folders and subfolders, and the interface matches what you’re used to with the newer versions of all of the software that Google offers.
From a pure writing standpoint, Google Docs may not have enough compelling features to sway you, especially considering how much space the app actually takes up. But if you need something more office-oriented, don’t mind giving up the storage space, and like Google’s other suite of apps and services, it’s a solid contender.