IA Writer 7.0 is out. What do you think?

So, iA Writer 7.0 is out.

For those in the habit of trying out a few writing applications, iA Writer might be one of those known names among many.

Version 7.0 was recently released for its annual update.

Among my impressions, a few things come to mind.

  • The feature allowing ownership of pasted text seems useful, especially for those who edit extensively and prioritize originality in their work. This is particularly useful when pasting from ChatGPT or similar sources, as it encourages us to re-elaborate what we have pasted. However, I have a little problem with that. Most people who are concerned about ownership can easily apply a formatting style to what they paste and keep track of their changes just as easily. It would be just 1 or 2 steps more.

  • For those who view AI-assisted writing as a collaborative process involving constant editing, this feature may seem trivial and superficial.

The other issue I have with this release is that it fails to address (for some features for years) previous inconsistencies among different versions and previously hinted refinements. In particular:

  • Lacking the ability to set goals on the iOS and MacOS versions despite being present on the Windows counterpart for years. The same for the options to navigate the text via headings and subheadings.

  • Not providing the long-announced custom editor for compiling the text for those who are not CSS experts and web editors.

  • Failing to allow retroactive modification of wiki link names without having its link break (which should have been introduced in an update for the previous version, in my opinion).

Overall, my impression is that very small features are introduced with a lack of direction and focus on unifying each version. This would allow for a strong identification of the app as both a brand and a writing tool.

I feel as though the developers have many ideas encouraged by the present times and trends but lack the energy to properly integrate them into the application’s ecosystem. They feel disjointed across different platforms and within the app itself.

I wonder if this feeling is mine alone (being affected by the disappointment of the lack of refinements I expected) or if it is a shared feeling.

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I’ve just had a quick look, expecting there to be more to the update than the features dealing with AI, but there doesn’t seem to be any. The entire ‘What’s new’ document is taken up with explaining this… what is it, really? A plagiarism detector?

I don’t understand what the point of the new features is: even if I did want to copy stuff from ChatThingy, which I don’t, then I’d know I’d done it, so what’s the point in having that bit in a different font? What need is this actually fulfilling? Is this something that authors have been crying out for?

I’m sorry if that sounds dismissive, but it’s not meant to be. I’m genuinely not sure what the benefit of this is supposed to be for authors, rather than readers.

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It seems to be more of a moral exploratory feature than an actual tool.

Hope no one will think this threads is bashing over a software. I am honestly puzzled by this feature and the lack of the others.

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I don’t own iA Writer. I’ve looked at it over the years and trialled it a couple of times but as a past user of Ulysses I had no real need for another markdown editor. But I did go on their website and I checked out their trilogy of posts about AI and I found their take on this new found fad technology heart warming.

I have absolutely no interest in using AI for my writing. I value my own imagination and my own artistic integrity too much to allow AI into my writing process. But I can see some logic to the point the devs made re using AI as a writing partner to debate your writing with. Although, I’d still much prefer to talk to a human with real emotions and logic and humanity. A world where we talk to machines about art is horrifying to me.

And so I really appreciated the stance iAWriter is taking with AI. All of these apps which have hastily integrated ChatGPT into their systems stand to lose their significance and independence moving forward. They risk being nothing more than plugins for big tech companies like Microsoft and OpenAI. So the ‘non-feature’ iAWriter has implemented with Authorship marking, is an understanding that some writers will want to use ChatGPT but not in iAWriter. At least, not directly. If you are such a writer, I think keeping track of which words were written by a machine and then how you changed said words, is a pretty cool idea.

As an aside, I was looking at Autocrit recently and they have gone all in with AI integration, allowing writers to generate ideas and have the app analyse text and critique it in terms of story development. All of which put me off buying into their vision of what writing is. I don’t want my text being data scraped by ChatGPT every time I ‘analyse’ my writing. And, in terms of content, if I as the writer of a work don’t know what I intended to write and if I managed to achieve that intention, then I really shouldn’t be writing. Nor do I want story ideas coming from an online pool of other writers’ work. Copyright issues, anyone?

I may be a dinosaur when it comes to AI but I’m happy to remain so. And I am also happy when I see writing apps take a moral and practical stance to the current onslaught of AI.

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"I am honestly puzzled by this feature " I was too and I’ve been thinking why you’d need to mark stuff as AI-generated - as if you can’t remember. Then it struck me that perhaps it’s because of that very reason.

Say you come back to finish your novel, after a break, but you can’t remember what AI generated for you, I guess this will help.

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Digging into the features, I need to add that the best part of this feature is the ability to PASTE the AI-revised piece of your original work to compare its changes, much like a plagiarism tool would do (or close enough).

I have the IA Writer app, but have never used it seriously. For me, using it on a larger scale as an author stands or falls with the lack of an import function and the very limited export functions. Even the best app fails if you can’t output the content properly for further processing or import existing content. Ulysses is more flexible in this respect and converts existing texts into markup texts via “cut & paste”, but this editor requires a subscription, which I generally reject, and offers nowhere near the flexibility that Scrivener does.

I often discover what my intention is by writing. Probably I’m not alone. But having an algorithm come along and tell me how I can conform my intention to its model of “how humans think” entirely misses the point.

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