Many Mac users who devote substantial time to keyboard and writing were saddened when the Mac’s best 21st century word processor– Bean– ended development, and doubly excited when Bean was resurrected for one last hurrah on macOS Sierra.
Bean may fade away, and many of us who write daily just cannot bring ourselves to use Apple’s Pages or Microsoft’s Word, so we search for a writing app with just the right blend of features, tools, functions, price, and usability.
One other feature that has become important in recent years is the ability for a writing app to run on Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Ulysses does, but comes with a hefty price tag. Or, so it seems. Scrivener does, too, but also has a hefty price tag.
The newly popular Bear, a writing tool for Mac, iPhone, and iPad, is priced less but might cost more. Let me explain.
Bear looks and feels, initially, like one of those minimalist notes tools, but it has a lengthy list of more-than-basic features. Want prose, not code? Got it. Need a markup editor that highlights nearly two dozen programming languages? It’s there. Need cross note links? Check.
What you get in Bear is a delicate balance of plain old fashioned writing functions mixed it with more esoteric and geeky features that developers and programmers might prefer. All files are stored in plain text so they go anywhere, yet files can be exported to HTML, PDFs, DOCX, and more.
Bear itself is free to use, but the power features– edit tools, multi-device support, and exports require a subscription.
That’s the future of writing apps. Pay by the month, or pay by the year, but pay forever to get the basic features most of us who write may need. Granted, the monthly payment isn’t much and you’ll get change from a $2 bill, but that also means that over time you’ll see the distinction between price and cost.
For example, the popular Ulysses writing system– packed with features that writer’s love– is priced at $45. The iPhone and iPad version is $25. Bear is free. But if you want the features many of us crave, then it’s $1.50 a month, or $15 per year using Apple’s new iTunes subscription service.
Over the course of a few years Bear’s cost escalates and could easily equal the price tag of Ulysses or the Popular Scrivener on the Mac (also $45, but $20 for the iPad and iPhone version– minus a penny; I rounded up).
To be fair about Bear, you may very well like it because it’s more word processor than notes app and seems aimed at those of us who spend plenty of time writing– Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
As an example, Bear comes with multiple themes, embeds todos to notes, handles images and photos inline, displays statistics, and lets you format text– Mac, iPhone, or iPad– with a click or tap. And, yes, there’s a distraction free mode called Focus Mode which hides the clutter so you can focus on your writing.
In other words, Bear is pretty good, but the new subscription pricing mechanism should highlight for us the distinction between price and cost.