Figuring Out Daedalus Touch

A view of the beginning of this blog post in Daedalus Touch

I have a hankering for beautiful apps. I know they can be had on Mac OS Lion, but usually they cost more than twice as much as those on the iOS App Store. This was one reason I chose the iPad over a new Macbook this past February. I knew that for the tasks I run on any given device the iPad 2 is able and economical.

A great case in point is Daedalus Touch. This is a slick text editor that I discovered over the Thanksgiving weekend during Black Friday sales (it was 66% off). It actually cost me less than my preferred Starbuck’s drink (a White Chocolate Mocha with half a shot of raspberry). Assuming Daedalus Touch did all it said it does, it would be some of the best $3 I spent this year.

Thus, a review to see whether it was worth forfeiting one hot beverage.

What is Daedalus Good For?

Daedalus aims to stand out from the rest of the crowd of mobile text editors with its gesture controls. I realize, for some, this is a bit gimmicky, but the gimmick rocks in Daedalus Touch (DT), for me. Most all gestures in the app for navigating my writings are a breeze.

And where the gestures come to life is in the unique metaphor DT uses to order the notes. Rather than bins, folders, notebooks, and the like, what we have in DT are stacks of sheets. A solitary note is called a sheet, as it appears to be in the visual interface. Sheets go together in stacks. The top navigation is called Stacks. Swipe through Stacks to watch them smoothly glide across the screen with your gliding finger. Open a stack with a reverse pinch of two fingers to reveal all the notes in each stack. The gesture controls are so responsive it’s as though they happen a split second before you make them.

These are Stacks in Daedalus Touch

Beyond these gestures for an elegant way of navigation, DT also has good settings for the look- and-feel of the app, as well as the “Best in class keyboards row,” as the developers put it on their website, “Quick access to otherwise hard to reach special characters. Intelligent insertion, [content wrapping], tabs, fwd delete, fully customizable.” —

A brief but sharp criticism of Evernote

I want to take a rabbit trail here to criticize the poor navigation controls of Evernote. Evernote’s notebook and tag organization is out of this world for all devices, but when it comes to gestures on iOS devices, it falls into a dark pit. Evernote’s use of gestures — one of the great strengths of i- devices — is practically nonexistent. Rather than swipes, pinches, and the like, which are a forté for the iPad and iPhone, most navigational functions are by way of oh-so disengaging single taps. And for the record, if Evernote’s use of gestures was up to snuff, I probably wouldn’t bother with other text editors. I’m still looking for the iOS text editor that does it all to my liking.

— Back to the Originally Scheduled Review

Another clever quirk about Daedalus Touch is the minimalistic search function. I must use the search function in my note apps at least once every time I use them for more than five minutes, so it’s important to me search works well in any app. I like to skip adding tags and the like to my notes, so it matters to me that the Search tool reads all of my notes and tells me wherever words are in use.

In DT, the search fluidly updates results as I continue to refine my search, so if I use just one word — let’s say, ‘John’, as an example — without even a need to hit the Enter key, Stacks of Sheets with ‘John’ in them are highlighted in yellow. and you may lengthen your query with a multiple word sequence. Let’s say in my case I write the whole search query of ‘John Adams.’ DT keeps up with me and narrows down the results in a snap. Only Sheets with ‘John Adams’ remain highlighted. This is Search from Heaven (i.e. to my liking).

But is it a Superior Writing App?

There really isn’t a writing app on for the iOS devices that beats Pages with a relatively complete set of tools. But as many writers have discovered with the iPad, it’s an excellent tool for writing free from the distraction of multiple apps running on your desktop and notebook devices. It’s liberating to write at great lengths with a clean and simple app on the iPad. So it doesn’t matter so much that it’s a simple and bare-bones app that lacks lots of formatting control. What matters is that DT is distraction-free, easy on the eyes, bug-free, syncs with Dropbox (if you’re into that), and capable of simple formatting techniques, like Markdown by John Gruber.

I didn't even mention the customizable row of keys added to the keyboard...

So I say download Daedalus Touch. I’m using to write e-pub content, write for my blog, and write scripts for Movieology. I don’t think I could be happier with the iOS version. Now, if there were a companion for the Mac desktop that would sync with my DT files, we would have it made!