Last week, I found a decent markdown app for android. Because of this, I decided to connect my Bluetooth keyboard to my Nexus 7 this week and write my sermon on it. While I’m still not happy with with the workflow I need to use, the experience wasn’t at all painful.
Fun With Keyboards
First, the keyboard support in Android is outstanding. This is one place I’ve always felt iOS was lacking, and my Nexus 7 experience has confirmed it. Typical character formatting shortcuts work. Control-b sets the bold toggle, control-i sets italic, and so on. Finding the control key on my Mac keyboard was a bit finger-tying, but I acclimated quickly. I did find it odd, however, that Mac-style shortcuts worked in other parts of the system. For example, Command-tab activates the application switcher. The command key is also used to activate default Google apps. My favorite is command-t, which opens Google Talk’s main screen. This makes switching between chats easy – command-t opens the chat main screen and arrow keys can be used to select another chat, which is then activated by hitting return. This, combined with Android’s stellar notifications, made using Google Talk on my Nexus 7 a wonderful experience.
Writing my sermon on Nexus was, acceptable. While the markdown editor I’m using is decent, it’s no where near the standard I’m accustomed to on iOS in WriteUp and ByWord. Write does have persistent word count, which is an essential feature for me, but it’s lacks extra formatting buttons for quickly adding markdown to text. It also relies on Android’s sharing feature to save to dropbox, which works but can be horribly frustrating as I end up being to do something I have no desire to do – keep a “local” and “cloud” version of my document in sync. My iOS editors, on the other hand keep my documents automatically in sync. I much prefer the iOS behavior. I could * write in a word processor app which saves directly to dropbox or Google Drive, but I write in markdown because the files are plain text. In a normal word processor I need to worry about which file format in which I’m saving, *and which application will read it on my devices. Plain text, on the other hand, works anywhere. My workflow is specialized, however, most users would be quite happy using one of Android’s word processing apps.
I was quite happy using my Nexus 7 for my writing this week. The keyboard controls are amazing and the apps are capable. My workflow currently doesn’t seem to match the design philosophy of Android, however, and this made my writing more scattered than I like. If you typically write in a traditional word processor, though, you could be well-served with this device.