I’ m always on the look-out for new apps that are going to help me to write more efficiently. It’s all about having the tools at my disposal that are going to help me to get those words down where ever I am. Well, ok. It’s not just all that, I mean who can resist the urge of a brand new shiny app to play around with, eh?
Well, the latest writing app to attach to my writing utility belt is Bear by Shiny Frog. An app that’s already won an Apple Design Award in 2017, so it’s already had its stamp of approval. But what exactly is it?
Bear, in short is a writing app that allows you to write notes, catalogue them and link them together.
From a simple word processing standpoint, Bear does what you would expect. You can use the keyboard to write notes. You can make certain things bold or italic. You can underline or strikeout parts and you have up to six levels of headings to use. We’re not only talking about writing either. If you want to add a photo or even a hand-drawn sketch to your note, then there are the inbuilt functions for you to do that.
Swipe left on the notes to get more information about that note. The number of paragraphs, word and character count, and how long it would take to read are all calculated for you. So, you can check to see if you’ve been droning on or been far too brief with what you’ve written. Yet, although the above functions are useful, they’re not what makes Bear stand out.
For me, the best thing about Bear is the linking and the categorising of your notes. Each note can have any number of tags, and these tags function in a similar way to the tags you would find on a web or blog page. They allow you to group together notes related by their tags. Tapping on a note tag will then search your Bear notes for all notes that have a matching tag attached to it.
The side bar shows your active tags and you can sub-categorise these tags to create a multi-level folder structure. You can separate your notes into their different categories, genres or even by date if you’re setting up a journal or diary.
You can also link one note to another by referencing the name of the note you wish to link to and encasing it in four brackets. This is great for simple note referencing, or if you want to try something a little more complex. The app itself suggests that you can use this linking to develop your own Create You Own Adventure story. I have to be honest; I’m keen to try this out myself.
One final thing that’s worth mentioning is the extensive search function that Bear has. As well as being able to search for key words and phrases that are (or aren’t) included within your notes, you can also use their pre-set triggers to search for various types of notes. For example, searching for @untagged will show you all the notes without a tag. Searching for @files will show you any notes with a file attached, and @code will show you any with code attached. There are more triggers and when these are used together, Bears search function will ensure you can always find what you want.
Everything I’ve mentioned above is available as part of the core version of Bear. If you’re willing to part with a little cash you can get even more Bear goodies with the Pro version.
The pro version includes the ability to sync your account across devices, export your notes and use different themes to ensure your app feels more personal.
If you’re interested in the core version of Bear then you’ll be please to know that it comes at the very agreeable price of ‘completely free’. Hoorah for that! The all singing and dancing Bear Pro comes (at the time of writing this) in two variants £1.49 monthly or £14.99 annually.
If you want to get hold of Bear or want to have a bit of a look around to see if it’s for you, you can find out everything you need to know on their official site http://www.bear-writer.com/ and here on the App Store. The app is available for the iPhone, iPad and Mac.