Word Processing Apps for Your iPad

Write on the road without sacrificing important tools

The iPad has grown over its history — and especially with its iPad Pro line — into a serious productivity device. Although early word-processing apps for iOS weren't fully baked, Apple's mobile ecosystem now supports several powerful, desktop-class word processors that will keep you both effective and mobile.

Apple iWork Pages

Pages for iWork

What We Like

  • Free app that integrates with iPad photos and other apps.

  • Templates for digital books, reports, letters, and more.

  • Smart annotation feature.

What We Don't Like

  • No global search and replace.

  • Limited compatibility with Microsoft Word.

  • Advanced features aren't obvious.

  • Difficult to learn.

Apple's Pages, along with the Numbers spreadsheet app and Keynote presentation app, comprise a suite of versatile and powerful document editing and creation tools. 

The Pages app was specifically designed to work with the best iPad features. You can insert images into your documents and move them around by dragging with your fingertip. Pages ​makes formatting simple with built-in templates and styles, as well as other common formatting tools.

Another key benefit to using Pages is the ability to save your document in multiple formats, including as a Pages document, a Microsoft Word document, and as a PDF. As with both Google's and Microsoft's offerings, you have access to Apple's cloud storage service called iCloud where you can save documents and access them from other devices.

Google Docs

Google Docs

What We Like

  • Superior sharing and collaboration capabilities.

  • Saves documents automatically as you work.

What We Don't Like

  • Basic word-processing features only.

  • Missing some of the web version features.

Google Docs is the iPad resident app related to the Google suite of Web-based office productivity apps. Docs allows you to create, edit, share and collaborate on documents stored in Google Drive, Google's cloud storage service; however, an internet connection is not required to use Google Docs app on your iPad. Docs offers the basic word processing features you expect in a document editor.

A generous 15 GB of space is free with Google Drive, and you have the option to upgrade to larger storage plans with a paid subscription. Docs does not connect with other cloud storage services. 

Google Docs is easy to use and versatile, especially if you work and collaborate within the Google ecosystem of productivity apps (e.g., Sheets, Slides, etc.).

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word for iPad

What We Like

  • Full integration with OneDrive.

  • Features include track changes, commenting, and flow text around images.

  • Easily handles Word for PC documents.

What We Don't Like

  • Most features require an Office 365 subscription.

  • Time lag when simultaneously editing a document with others.

  • No voice-to-text capabilities.

Not to be left out of the move to mobile, Microsoft has launched the app versions of the company's popular and powerful Microsoft Office productivity software. Microsoft Word is available as an iPad app, alongside other Office apps, including Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and OneDrive, which is Microsoft's cloud storage service where you can store and access your documents online.

The Word app version offers core features and compatibility for document creation and editing. You don't get all of the functionality found in the desktop software, but there are lots of tips and tricks for Office on the iPad. There is an option to subscribe to Microsoft's Office 365 service for a fee that will unlock additional features for all Office apps.

iA Writer

iA Writer for iOS

What We Like

  • Minimalist, distraction-free user interface.

  • Great app for all types of writing.

  • Saves individual files in iCloud.

What We Don't Like

  • No rich-text capability.

  • Priced higher than competitors.

  • Offers fewer features than competitors.

The iA Writer app, from iA Labs GmbH, is a visually clean text editor that offers simple word processing with a nice keyboard that gets out of your way and lets you simply write. Its keyboard is well-reviewed and includes an extra row of special characters. iA Writer supports iCloud storage service and can sync between your Mac, iPad, and iPhone.

Documents To Go

a couple going over documents together

 People Images / Getty Images

What We Like

  • View, edit, and create Word documents.

  • View PDFs, iWork, and RTF files.

  • Robust text formatting capabilities.

What We Don't Like

  • Free version includes ads. Paid version is pricey.

  • Occasional syncing problems.

  • No option to print PDFs or documents.

Documents To Go is an app that gives you access to your Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files, as well as the ability to create new files from scratch. This app is one of a few that also supports iWorks files as well as GoDocs.

Documents To Go offers extensive formatting options, including bulleted lists, styles, undo and redo, find and replace, and word count. This app also uses InTact Technology to retain existing formatting.