My favorite iPad text editor: PlainText and The new Google Search app for iPad

Today, we’re very pleased to be launching a significant redesign for the Google Search app for iPad. As you can see in our video, whether you’re doing research and comparing results, or exploring beautiful imagery, we have added new features to make the app more interactive, more visual and to help you find what you want more easily.

More interactive
You’ll notice that searching is faster and more interactive from your first keystroke. As soon as you begin to type, Google Instant starts to display results, so you don’t even need to press the search button.

Once you pick a web page to visit, you’ll see the page load on a new, slide-in pane that will layer over the search results. You can slide the pane to the right to get back to your search results, and even keep scrolling through the results as your web page is loading. This allows you to go back and forth from results to web pages quickly to get the information you are looking for.

View search results on the left and a web page on the right in the slide-in pane

More visual
Viewing image results in the app is now much more vivid. Tap on any image result to use the new image carousel, which lets beautiful images shine. You’ll see the image you selected expand, and you can easily swipe through the carousel to see other similar images.

Swipe through the image carousel

Often you may be looking to find something you have seen before again or are continuing research on a topic. But on a tablet, typing can be a challenge. That is why we have created a visual way to explore your search history. Swipe right to view snapshots of pages you’ve visited, stacked and organized by search term. You can also manage your search history from this new view.

See your past searches with a new, visual history

With this release, we also brought Instant Previews to the app so you can quickly compare web pages before you choose your result. Tapping on an icon in the top right of the screen brings you into a visual preview of the pages for your search result, easy to scroll through with the swipe of a finger.

Find easily
Finally, we added a few extra features that we hope will help you find what you want more easily.

After you’ve selected a result, a new tool helps you find exactly what you need within a web page. Tap the magnifying glass on the top right-hand corner to highlight the most relevant section of the page. You can recommend pages you like with the new +1 button, right next to the magnifying glass, and help others find relevant sites more easily as well.

Helpful tools while you search

We’ve also made it easier to find and use your favorite Google services like Google News, Calendar and more in the new Apps menu. Tap on an icon to quickly read an email in Gmail, or share a post on Google+ within the slide-in pane. When you slide the pane to the right, you’ll be right back to searching.

Easily find more Google services

The app is available worldwide for iPads with iOS 4.0+. Download it in the App Store and start enjoying a faster and more interactive experience now.

Posted by Daniel Fish, Software Engineer
, Google Search app

One app I've been using a lot lately is PlainText, a simple text editor that syncs seamlessly with Dropbox and saves as actual .txt files. (Free with ads, lose the ads for $2.)

I use TextEdit a lot on my Macs, doing almost everything I can in plain text or .rtf documents. I only use Word when I actually need the features. But it was surprisingly hard to find an editor on the iPad that could open and save to a simple .txt. I tried Evernote, but it saves you work as some internal file type that can't really be accessed outside of Evernote itself. Same for my extensive collection of notetaking apps that allow both typing and handwriting.

I wanted an app to work on simple lists, blog posts, and other writing projects in, so that I could also open them in TextEdit or other programs on any computer. Enter PlainText.

It's simple and does its job beautifully. It creates a folder in DropBox, and you can either set it to sync continually or only when you tell it to. (I had it set to sync continually, til my husband was using the computer and got annoyed when it kept telling him that Note.txt had been updated - now I sync manually.) You can create subfolders within the app. The text editor itself is simple, no frills. The document list is in a column on the left (it doesn't autohide in portrait, by the way), or you can go into focus mode and see only the text you're working on.

It's certainly nothing fancy. But it is precisely what I'd been looking for. If I could wish for one upgrade, I would want it to also do simple .rtf files, possibly via MarkDown. I've had a hell of a time finding anything on iOS that does .rtf. But for now, it's serving its purpose very well.

Sorry I've been gone for a bit, but hopefully I'll be updating regularly again now!

I do a lot of photo editing on my iPad. A LOT. My camera has an Eye-Fi card in it that auto-uploads every picture I snap to Photobucket. I use the Photobucket app to sort through those, put them in albums, etc. Then I download the ones that need fixing up and do that on the iPad and reupload them with the app.

I have literally a couple dozen photo editing apps on my iPad, but over time I've found that there are just a few that I keep going back to, the workhorses that are good for more than just a few gimmicks.

Snapseed - There's a reason this app won app of the year last year. We went to Hawaii this year, and the photo problem was that there was tons of nice scenery, but it was overcast and rainy almost the whole time so it was hard to get a nice shot of it. Enter Snapseed, with their Drama filters and excellent tuning tools. Over and over again, I put in a photo that was too dark, too underexposed, and it found whatever information was hiding in there and brought it out to great effect.

Photo as originally taken:

After running it through Snapseed:

Snapseed brought out details of the island that I thought had been lost, and made the water look more like it had before the clouds rolled in and dulled its surface. And it took just a couple of minutes!

PhotoGene - This is actually a recent purchase, but I'm already using it constantly. I bought it for its redeye correction - the Photos app can catch some red eyes, but sometimes it overdoes it and you wind up with eyes that look like they came out of a horror movie. Rather than simply putting black blobs over the red, PhotoGene adjusts the color to a yellower hue and darkens it. And if that doesn't work, it has a dodge mask feature that lets you darken just the bit you want, to get rid of remaining pupil glare. And if that doesn't work, it has a cloning heal tool, and I will freely admit that I just printed out a couple pictures that had one iris cloned over to the other side to cover up an irretrievably red eye. You have to be careful with that, of course, or you'll wind up with some very creepy results, but if you're careful you can't tell, especially at 4x6 size. The masking tools are useful for a variety of other applications as well, and I have barely begun to explore this app's other features.

Here is an example of my dog Fred before:

And after redeye correction and a burn mask in PhotoGene:

As you can see, the Photo app correction is a little too harsh in this picture; I find it works best when the pupil is well-defined and is the only thing that's red:

PicStitch - I assumed that a collage-making app would be a gimmick I'd use once or twice and forget about, but this turns out to be a very useful tool. When I have a variety of similar shots that I want to share online (say, of my baby trying different foods and making a mess out of all of them) I don't have to make my FaceBook friends flip through a whole album. I even print them out sometimes - I wanted to capture the interesting local options on the Waikiki McDonald's menu, but didn't really want to print out four photos of a McDonald's, so instead I printed this one picture:

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