I recently purchased Ulysses Mobile after a recommendation from Macstories. My first impression was how expensive it was priced and what really makes a premium writing application?

Needless to say, I’m not a huge writer. But I do have a real fondness for plain text (it will survive the apocalypse) and by extension, Markdown by John Gruber. The problem for Ulysses is this: there’s lots of really great Markdown applications for iOS, two of which I have written about: Editorial (my favourite) and Byword (not so keen on this app).

So where does that leave Ulysses? Well John Voorhees wrote an excellent column in Club Macstories Newsletter, where he said you need to exploit a niche on the App Store, but it needs to not be a niche of one (aka. just you). So Ulysses is different to the other applicants I mentioned in key ways:

  • All files are called “Sheets” and by default do not need a file name, it is kind of like Drafts, just open and write away
  • It has a library, all optionally but by default synced to iCloud
  • It has filters, which are flexible way to quickly group “sheets”
  • It has extensive tagging
  • It has optional word count targets for each “sheet”
  • You can add notes and other metadata which will not show up in the exported result (usually PDF)
  • It supports many formats for export, such as docx, PDF, HTML, ePub
  • It is very themeable, with an online web gallery of themes

So in other words, it’s a lot more extensive in different features and thus audience to the other editors.

So would I recommend it? I’m still not sure about the desktop class application tag the developers have used, but it is a nice app to write in (I wrote this post on my iPhone in Ulysses). The library and filters seem like something I may not truly need, but there’s no doubt it’s a nicely designed app. Overall for me it’s probably not worth the price tag as I wouldn’t use key features, but if your serious about writing, you should definitely pick it up.