Ulysses for iOS and OS X is a professional writing tool on your Mac, iPad and iPhone.
I spend a good deal of time each week writing. I do computer forensic and security work and often have to write lengthy reports with my findings. I also write opinion articles and reviews for MacSources. When doing security writing for reports, I often work in the Pages App on my Mac Pro and if I’m out in the field, I use my MacBook. Pages works really well for writing reports since most people will be opening it in Pages on a Mac or in Word on a Windows PC. I don’t need to worry about Markup and headings, etc. However, writing for a website is another story entirely.
When I provide my articles the the editors at MacSources, they have to copy/paste and adapt the formatting to work well online. Like many websites, MacSources runs on WordPress and simply pasting the article into the WYSIWYG editor can create a lot of formatting problems. Applications like Ulysses are designed to export beautiful and properly formatted content and attempt to solve another issue that many writers face, which is working on multiple screens over the course of finishing an article.
I’ve always loved the idea of convergence, where all of my technology works together and makes my workflows and entertainment options easier. I have always been obsessed with how much lost time can occur just by living your life. For example, it used to be a pain to keep up with Podcasts that I was interested in because there was no simple and automagical way to take them with me into the car while driving. These days, the program’s I am interested in download automatically to my iPhone and I listen to them in the car. Occasionally, I listen to them on my Mac, but usually that is the time for music since I am writing.
This is the way things should work with all content across all of our screens, big and small, but while iCloud makes it a snap to sync Pages articles between devices, it’s a pain to write when you lose half of your screen to a touch keypad on an iPad, let alone on an iPhone! There is also the problems of proper formatting that I mentioned before. The bottom line is that the majority of my writing happens on the Desktop and the Laptop. When given the opportunity to review Ulysses, I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical. I found it hard to imagine writing an entire article on my iPhone. After using Ulysses on my Mac, iPad Pro and iPhone I can honestly say that it does deliver on most of it’s promises.
Working in Ulysses on all of my device was overall very pleasant. The interface is very simple and intuitive. It looks as elegant as any app in the iWork suite does and if I didn’t know better, I would have thought that Apple made this pretty little workhorse. The only real problem I encountered while using Ulysses was that the iCloud sync between my devices seemed to be slow to catch up at times. I did not have this problem on my home network, but it happened to me at work and on a public WIFI network. I’m not sure if this was a speed issue on those networks or something in Ulysses, but during the same times, iCloud access to Pages articles worked.
I made it a point to switch back and forth between my Mac, iPad and iPhone several times while writing this and other than the occasional syncing issue, I can honestly say that writing on my iPhone and iPad is at least tolerable and at times pleasant with Ulysses. Full disclosure, I’m on the 12.9 inch iPad Pro with the smart keyboard, but I did use the onscreen keyboard and I still had plenty of screen real estate to move around in the app. Those considering using a smaller iPad without an external keyboard, might have a more unpleasant experience.
Ulysses is an elegantly designed app that is a snap to use. It packs a lot of professional features into an easy to use interface. The only reason I am giving it 4 stars instead of 5, is the sync issues which may not have been caused by the app. I would recommend Ulysses to anyone who writes for the web and would like a versatile solution that can operate on all of the screens in your life.