Why the Android Version of Scrivener is Arguably the Most Important Version (and Why it's Number 1 on My Wish List)

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dontbajerme
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Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:34 pm Post

This is a long post, so please bear with me.

I stumbled upon Scrivener around 8 years ago, when I was struggling to find software that I could easily organize my thoughts with and streamline my writing process. I was a loyal MacBook Pro user then, back when I was attending school for graphic design. I knew Apple's computers to be the choice platform for creatives, and it made perfect sense that the best writing software had best realized itself on MacOS (then OS X). I dreamed one day Scrivener would make its way to mobile platforms, so I could work seamlessly on the go or at home.

As the years passed, my dreams of graphic design as a career faded, but I held firmly to the delusion that I needed a MacBook Pro for all the "intense" work I was doing. Meanwhile, the iOS version of Scrivener was announced, and it was everything I'd been hoping for...almost. I've always preferred Android phones, so the thought of switching to an iPhone just for one piece of software made me hesitant. I did make the jump to test the waters, and immediately regretted the decision, switching back not 6 months later.

At some point, I finally realized I had no need for a MacBook, Pro or otherwise. I wasn't using Photoshop or Illustrator anymore, and everything I was doing was either capable of being accomplished in my browser or within an app. Apple's hardware was and is very premium looking, but I could no longer justify spending $2000 for an internet machine.

Enter the final nails in the coffin. As I mentioned, I have always preferred Android phones. I've had good luck with the Nexus and Pixel lines from Google being every bit as reliable as an iPhone, albeit with software that better suited my needs. When Google announced that Chromebooks would start supporting Android apps, my interest was piqued; however, after being spoiled by the premium build of the MacBook Pro, I doubted I would be able to transition to such a device. That is, until the Pixelbook won me over with its sleek build, phenomenal keyboard and trackpad, and best of Google baked in. I was able to have my cake and eat it too, at around half the price I paid for the late 2016 MacBook Pro with touchbar. The only thing missing was Scrivener.

Now I know what you're probably thinking. The Pixelbook can be a hard pill to swallow, at $999 for the base model with an i5, 8 GB of RAM, and a 128 GB SSD. Those are standard specs that could be had on a Windows computer for cheaper, and are pretty baseline for a college student. Allow me to argue the point further. Windows and MacOS are traditional operating systems. They were designed decades ago, and have more or less been iterated upon through the years. Because of this, they are very heavy in the way they operate. For example, Windows 10 takes up about 2 GB of RAM just idling, without having any other programs open. For comparison, Chrome OS uses maybe half a gig while idling with nothing open. Windows and MacOS are fine operating systems, especially for those using professional software such as AutoCAD, Illustrator, or Final Cut Pro. For the every day user, however, Chrome OS is much better at resource management. I've never once experienced a slowdown on my Pixelbook, something I can't say for my MacBook Pro running the exact same applications.

Sure, maybe you still don't see the justification for the Pixelbook. As evidenced by my history of Apple products, I'm obviously willing to pay a premium for build quality and brand. Happily, the Pixelbook isn't the only device out there running Chrome OS. There are several options, ranging anywhere from $180 all the way up to $1600. And where a Windows device with 4 GB of RAM is cringeworthy, on Chrome OS it is the most standard configuration, and plenty for this ecosystem. All of these options also support the Google Play store, which means that 80 to 90 percent of Android apps will work, with the exception being a current lack of optimization. Android apps in Chrome OS can run in their phone-sized layout, or (if coded for it) brought into fullscreen mode for the tablet sized layout, making it extremely versatile for different workflows.

Now let's start bringing this together with a few more facts. Android holds one of, if not the largest market share of any operating system. Chromebooks are used within roughly 60 percent of all schools K-12. Both Android and Chrome OS boast significantly more affordable options for devices than Apple. Chrome OS is a faster, simpler, and more secure operating system than Windows or MacOS.

So what does this all mean? By focusing on the Android version of Scrivener, you bring the versatility seen within Apple's ecosystem to the everyman. Not everyone can afford to work within Apple's ecosystem. Not everyone wants to deal with Windows' pesky updates, need for virus software, troubleshooting, blue screens of death. Yes, we are creatives, but we are so much more. We are students. We are starving artists. We are opinionated and loyal to our own brands. To those that use the versions of Scrivener on MacOS, iOS, Windows, Linux: keep doing you, we love you for it. But this one hole in the ecosystem, when filled, opens the floodgates to so many new users. Computers with Chrome OS, tablets with Chrome OS, tablets with Android, phones with Android. This ecosystem is only getting bigger, and by prioritizing Scrivener for Android, you are able to tap into all of these device users, who can access the same exact software in the same exact way on every one of these platforms.

I am so excited to see Scrivener make its way to Android, and I hope that I've cultivated some of that same excitement within you, the developers and community. I can't wait to see what happens next.

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Amcmo

Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:03 am Post

While I have no doubt a great number of people will look forward to Scrivener on Android. I do have to take issue with a number of points..

Firstly, Android apps that work on those Chrome devices that support them currently not all but eventually perhaps, from my own testing are a mixed bag. They are optimized for Android and are somewhat of a kludge on Chrome,, reminiscent of the old iOS 2x for phone apps to look a little better on the iPad screen.

Chrome and Android are demonstrably less secure that Mac - I won’t argue the case on Win. PROVIDED you only download apps from Google there is less risk, however Google too often ends up pulling apps after malware has done it’s damage only to have the same malware appear within a day or two with a different app name.

When attempting any complex task I would also dispute the ‘faster’ than MacOS claim.

Yes Chrome is enjoying significant sales in education though limited spec devices given away at close to cost. The proof will be in how many of those are used for meaningful purpose in a couple of years.

The other reality is Developers typically find they enjoy greater income in the iOS platform, and tend to follow the money.

I’m sure Keith and team will bring an amazing Android app to market after Win 3, however, based on feedback from developers I know covering both mobile platforms, I doubt it will be the holy grail, just another hopefully profitable channel.

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dontbajerme
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Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:12 pm Post

Amcmo wrote:While I have no doubt a great number of people will look forward to Scrivener on Android. I do have to take issue with a number of points..

Firstly, Android apps that work on those Chrome devices that support them currently not all but eventually perhaps, from my own testing are a mixed bag. They are optimized for Android and are somewhat of a kludge on Chrome,, reminiscent of the old iOS 2x for phone apps to look a little better on the iPad screen.

Chrome and Android are demonstrably less secure that Mac - I won’t argue the case on Win. PROVIDED you only download apps from Google there is less risk, however Google too often ends up pulling apps after malware has done it’s damage only to have the same malware appear within a day or two with a different app name.

When attempting any complex task I would also dispute the ‘faster’ than MacOS claim.

Yes Chrome is enjoying significant sales in education though limited spec devices given away at close to cost. The proof will be in how many of those are used for meaningful purpose in a couple of years.

The other reality is Developers typically find they enjoy greater income in the iOS platform, and tend to follow the money.

I’m sure Keith and team will bring an amazing Android app to market after Win 3, however, based on feedback from developers I know covering both mobile platforms, I doubt it will be the holy grail, just another hopefully profitable channel.


You are correct that Android apps do need to be more optimized, due to the fact that there are so many versions of Android as well as specific company overlays and interfaces it needs to be made compatible with, but once built, most that support both a tablet & phone interface (as supported by Scrivener on iPhone and iPad) shouldn't need much if any optimization translating over to Chrome OS, and wouldn't need to resort to the 2x you speak of.

Second, while I can't speak directly to Android being demonstrably less secure than Mac, I'm certain that Chrome OS is. Chrome OS has virus protection built in, so even if there is an app with malware, it won't affect the Chrome OS system. Sandboxing and verified boot should prevent this.

As for Chrome OS being faster than a Mac, any task that can be done on a Chromebook tends to run faster than its Mac or PC counterparts. The term "complex tasks" probably doesn't translate between platforms, as Chromebooks don't run such "complex tasks" as Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. But taking the Chrome browser, for example, you can have several more tabs open and running smoothly than you could with the same browser on a Mac, due to the operating system being built around it. Now I understand that a lot of this optimization is due to the fact that Chromebooks aren't traditionally designed for "complex tasks", but a feature filled text editor such as Scrivener would not fall under the category of complex. It's also a hard line to draw, as we'd have to define which exact models we're comparing, but generally speaking, Chrome OS does a great job holding its weight, especially when targeting the budget demographic.

In relation to the education market, I'd say they have already been proving their worth over the last 3 to 5 years. Now granted, the Chromebooks used in schools currently aren't taking advantage of the Android app support, but as long as that marketshare stays strong and/or grows, Scrivener could find a place in elementary through high schools. I know I would've loved software like that growing up for essays, creative writing, etc.

I can't fault you on the point that iOS tends to make more money with apps than Android; however, from my understanding that is typically due to in-app purchases as opposed to one-time purchases.

You make some decent points, and I don't mean to unrail them by any means. It's great to see concerns, and obviously it's up to individual opinion whether the Android version will be as great as I hope it will. I should state my sources as well as my bias stem from my job experience; I'm a Google Sales Manager. I'm glad to hear your input, though! Any constructive criticism can only benefit the future of the software, on all platforms!

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kewms
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Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:31 am Post

dontbajerme wrote: I should state my sources as well as my bias stem from my job experience; I'm a Google Sales Manager.


Oh. I see.

I can't speak for Keith, and this is not a business proposal. But I do know that limited resources are a significant constraint on development priorities for small companies like Literature & Latte.

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devinganger
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Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:01 am Post

I'll note you start off talking about Android but are diverting to Chrome OS. They are not the same.

dontbajerme wrote:while I can't speak directly to Android being demonstrably less secure than Mac, I'm certain that Chrome OS is. Chrome OS has virus protection built in, so even if there is an app with malware, it won't affect the Chrome OS system. Sandboxing and verified boot should prevent this.


Have you ever managed computer security in the real world? Because I have, and in the world of modern OSs, Windows is actually the easiest to secure, with Mac OS next. Chrome OS is a bit more secure than bare Android, but that's mainly because the OS doesn't provide enough useful functionality to do non-trivial tasks natively, so nobody bothers to go after it.

dontbajerme wrote:As for Chrome OS being faster than a Mac, any task that can be done on a Chromebook tends to run faster than its Mac or PC counterparts.


You are not comparing apples to oranges at this point.

dontbajerme wrote:but a feature filled text editor such as Scrivener would not fall under the category of complex.


Given the number of system services Scrivener requires, I doubt that Scrivener for Chrome OS would be significantly more feature-ful than Scrivener for iOS, where the lack of system services has forced the drop of many features users regularly ask for.
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Devin L. Ganger, WA7DLG
Not a L&L employee; opinions are those of my cat
Life has a way of moving you past wants and hopes

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Amcmo

Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:18 pm Post

Devin, I agree with most of what you say, and certainly Android/Chromebook Scrivener being more akin to iOS Scrivener than the Win/Mac versions, but who knows what miracles team L&L will achieve.
Having been in systems since the IBM Series 1 days and PC’s since CP/M plus worked at several OEM and developer levels I’d dispute the Win easier to secure than Mac but both have robust systems.

Meanwhile convinced the Minister of War that a BTO new MacBook Pro will be my Christmas present.

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tommymsw
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Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:35 pm Post

I get the ongoing bias debate between IOS and Android, Windows and Mac. Apple products tend to be more "secure" for the simple fact that they are so rare. If you are going to try to hack a software, you are going to choose a more popular one.
On that note, from a strictly financial point... Android owns about 85% of the smartphone market, so not having an Android app means you are ignoring 85% of the market. Although it may be possible that the vast majority of Scrivener owners also have IOS , I am not sure. I would bet the people at L&L know if most of their software is purchased for Mac and that would give some idea.
But Windows accounts for over 80% of computers and the majority of laptops. And Chrome OS has 60% in schools. Apple in general accounts for only about 15% in each category. Although Apple does charge significantly more for their products and users are used to higher costs, so you can likely get away with charging a higher fee? Still seems like by actual numbers, you would make more selling to the larger audience.

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kewms
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Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:58 pm Post

Though Android has a larger share, iOS users are more willing to pay for apps, and it's easier to develop for iOS.
https://medium.com/@the_manifest/androi ... ea8996abe1

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liz
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Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:23 pm Post

The issue is whether enough people would be willing to pay for Scrivener on Android. I would also be willing to bet that many Scrivener users considering a buying new tablet might grit their teeth and pony up for an iPad even though they would rather use Android. I almost did. Note the word "almost."

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TadeoBlanco

Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:17 pm Post

Lies, damned lies and statistics.

Yes Android has a far greater market share as does Win in PC, but that ignores reality.

The vast (really vast) majority of the Android market is low end where people just want a phone and to play a few games, or in tablets, games and consumption. The end of the market where people actually ‘create’ is more balanced iOS/Android.

As Katherine points out, even there Android users have a much lower commitment to actually paying for anything. I have a number of good creative friends who flatly refuse to pay for any software. They spend endless hours tweaking their Linux machines and finding a freeware app for each task (I still play with Linux from time to time but end up thinking how great I have it with MacOS and to a lesser extent Win. I used to build all my own PC’s as well, and yes a Hac or two. I came to the conclusion I was better off paying a bit more and just focussing on productivity, but that’s what works for me)

The same applies in PC vs Mac. 90% at a guess of PC’s outside of business are for email, web browsing, perhaps a little word processing and a very basic spreadsheet and that’s it.

When you get to serious creative use the Mac market share is more than the 15% or whatever Apple currently own.

That’s not to say there may not be an opportunity for Scrivener in Android, however, it’s not the 5X the iOS market the unfiltered sales figure might suggest. I’d be surprised if it was more than the iOS market.

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tommymsw
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Fri Sep 20, 2019 5:50 pm Post

I was assuming the app would be free and just an insensitive to buy the Scrivener software, So profit to developers was not my thought. Although I did say that IOS users are FAR more willing to spend their money, That is why IOS makes more money than Android despite having only a fraction of the share. Apple charges many, many times more.

So if you were just going to try to boost sales of the original software, then you should market to the greater audience. Again, I am sure L&L know what version sells more and they likely cater to them. I do know that even Adobe (typically used for creative people) sells more copies on PC than on Mac. I mean even Pixar uses PC systems. When it comes down to it, people will usually use the most powerful and stable systems available. Writing clearly requires almost no processing power so that is not relevant here, If I was only using a laptop for writing, I would go with a Chromebook (if this software ran on it). But for all my video editing, I am going with PC. I am not going to go out and buy an expensive Mac JUST to do word processing. :) I would imagine people who would use THIS software (writers and students) are using mostly PC. As a developer, I would rather have the profits from Office over iWork.

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TadeoBlanco

Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:43 am Post

I’d be confident the app would never be free, just like the iOS version isn’t.

The developer/s have to earn a living and in a niche market such as this giving a freebie to possibly get another sale is risky at best. That is one of the issues that has been raised on this and other similar threads here and industry at large. The ‘larger’ market (it isn’t actually) of Android users have a greater reluctance to pay, which explains why iOS first is the policy for many developers.

Yes Chromebooks are super cheap, and super low spec in most cases, but when you compare something like a MacBook Air with an equivalent QUALITY PC prices are similar and you are likely to get a bit longer out of the Mac, so it’s not a case of expensive Mac.

You refer to students. Obviously doesn’t apply all over, but the last lecture room I stepped into I was faced with 5 or 6 to 1 Macs over PC.

Apple are the 4th or 5th largest selling PC brand Worldwide (depending on who’s dodgy stats you accept). That figure includes Windows tablets/2-in-1 as PCs, Chromebooks but not iPad. If you add iPad to the mix Apple is largest. That’s a very attractive market when you consider the vast majority of home PC laptops are used more more consumption than creation.

Stats can tell interesting and sometimes deceptive messages.

You say Apple charges many times more - no. Their own apps, apart from the professional ones are free, and even Final Cut X is a bargain compared to anything else. Apps in the Mac and iOS App Store have prices set by developers, not Apple and are generally low priced.

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DaSpudly
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Sat Sep 21, 2019 4:11 pm Post

Hi, relatively recent devotee of Scrivener and I'd like to add my voice to the "Please make an android version" crowd.

I currently use Scrivener on a Windows machine. In fact, I use it on two Windows machines, one at home and another which is a laptop I use at work.

At the moment, I'm working as a security guard, which means I can use my laptop when I'm doing night shifts, but not when I'm doing day shifts. During day shifts, I'm left with plenty of time to write - and the method of creating lots of small scenes then piecing them together in order later really works for me - but nothing I can actually do the writing on except my Pixel 3 XL.

I've considered all sorts of of workarounds, including text files which can be dropped into the scrivener project, web based editors which will save text files to my google drive folder which is the home of the scrivener project, etc etc, but really what I'd like to do is open the project on my extremely capable phone and tap away at it, knowing that what I do will be saved to the scrivener project and be safe.

Now I understand that refactoring software for another platform can be an awkward pest of a thing to do, but I also feel that in cases like this particular one, the process would be worth it, if not immediately, then certainly in the future.

Android is now a mature platform and has been noted already in this thread, it is an incredibly popular platform.

Please, please, consider porting this wonderful software to the android platform. I know I would happily pay for it.

In fact, I would happily pay for a cut down version which was capable of navigating my template driven project and allowing me to create and edit new items. It doesn't need full desktop functionality, it needs the barest of formatting capabilities and the ability to create items such as folders and text files based on the existing templates.

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Silverdragon
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Sat Sep 21, 2019 8:51 pm Post

Hi, @DaSpudly.

AFAIK, Android is next on the L&L to-do list after the Windows team releases Win Scriv 3 (and does the inevitable cleanup after wide paid release :wink: .) L&L so stated in this thread (http://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=36940&p=235548&hilit=Android#p235548) and I've heard nothing to the contrary.

I gather that you have your Scrivener project(s) stored in Google Drive, and access it(them) from two different Windows machines.

First, I urge you to use a different cloud service. Google Drive is a known mangler of live Scrivener projects. Just because you've had no problems so far, doesn't mean you won't. See the warning in the L&L Knowledge Base here: Google Drive Advisory. You can use OneDrive/SkyDrive if you follow the precautions here: OneDrive/SkyDrive Advisory. Other than those, AFAIK, there's no problem with doing what you're doing with any cloud service so long as you close your project(s) on the one machine before opening it(them) on the other, and let the cloud service finish up/downloading before you open.

There are two ways available right now to Windows / Android (or for that matter, Mac / Android) users to do much of what you describe – get new texts into a Scrivener project from an Android device, or edit existing texts with an Android device. I used these methods myself before iOS Scrivener existed. I still use the Scratch Pad method. An advantage of these methods is that you can use whatever cloud service you prefer – no need to use Dropbox only (as iOS Scriveners must if they wish to have the entire project sync semi-automatically.)

  • Scratch Pad method: This method works well if you're not quite sure which project a text belongs in – a new project, maybe? It's just as convenient as the next method if you're always creating new texts, rather than editing.
    1. In Windows Explorer, create a new folder in your favorite cloud. (BTW, Google Drive works fine for this. Just don't keep your main project there.) Name it as you like, but something like "Scrivener Scratch Pad" would be obvious :wink:
    2. In Windows Scrivener, in the Tools->Options window, in the General tab, change the Scratch Pad Notes location to your newly-created cloud folder. You should do this on each of your Windows machines. (If your cloud service is set up correctly, the new folder should propagate to both machines.)
    3. On your Android device, create and edit texts in this folder with your favorite text editor, being sure to save them either as .rtf files or .txt files.
    4. Back at Windows Scrivener, open your Scratch Pad panel (Tools->Scratch Pad), and there are your texts waiting to be added to your project(s).
  • Sync with External Folder method: This method will drop your new Android texts right into your project(s) (though you'll need to reposition them in your Binder), and let you edit existing texts as well. The downside is that it's more challenging to set up. I'm going to refer you to the Scrivener manual (Chapter 13), and urge you to set up a test project if you decide this is for you. (Using the Scrivener Tutorial project for this is easy and will help you learn how to set this up without risking your real work.) Other Android users have reported success with OfficeSuite in editing/creating .rtf files to go back into Scrivener.
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Jez
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Sun Sep 22, 2019 1:45 am Post

I would love to see Scrivener on Android - let's hope it happens. Presently I am happily syncing my 90,000 word project (plus extensive research content) to an Android journaling app named Journey, following this excellent guide:
https://medium.com/@techieinak/sync-scrivener-with-android-devices-for-writing-on-the-go-c539e4c9f41b