If you want to write anything more than a few hundred words long on an Android phone, you'll need a text editor or word processor. (A word processor is just a more sophisticated text editor with additional style and file format capabilities, and some of the apps here blur the distinction between the two.)
A bewildering array of different text editing apps are available in the Google Play Store. Here's an overview of 12 currently available text editors/word processors for the Android OS, with a comparison of their main features, concentrating on those aspects most important for writers.
Some of these text editors are intended for programmers rather than writers, but have features that can also be useful for writers. All apps in this list are free, at least for the basic version. The information in the table below refers to the free version of each app.
|App||Word count||Export formats||Backup options||Markdown support (‡)||WYSIWYG formatting (†)||Dark theme||Storage (¶)||Tabs (§)||Ads||App size|
|DroidEdit||no||txt||no (paid version only)||no||no||yes||external||yes||always visible, unobtrusive||2.6 M|
|QuickEdit||yes||txt||no||partially||no||yes||external||yes||yes (obtrusive)||5.6 M|
|iA Writer||yes||txt, html, pdf, docx||Dropbox, Google Drive||yes||no||yes||internal||no||no||9.6 M|
|Markor||no||txt, md||no||yes (extensive)||no||yes||internal||no||no||6.9 M|
|Jotterpad||yes||txt, rtf||Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive||yes||no||paid version only||internal||no||yes (unobtrusive)||11 M|
|Writer Plus||yes||txt, html||no||yes (limited, no preview)||no||yes||internal||no||no||860k|
|Monospace||no||txt, md||Dropbox, Google Drive||yes (limited, no preview)||no||yes||internal||no||no||5.4 M|
|anWriter||no||txt||no||no||no||yes||external||yes||yes (obtrusive)||2.0 M|
|Google Docs||yes||docx, odt, pdf, txt, rtf, html, epub||Google Drive||no||yes||no (but you can change page and text color)||internal||no||no||90 M|
|Microsoft Word||yes||docx, pdf||OneDrive, Dropbox, Box||no||yes||no||internal||no||no||> 200 M|
|AndrOpen Office||yes||odt, doc, rtf, txt, html, xml||Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive||no||yes||no (but you can change page and text color)||internal||no||yes (unobtrusive)||> 200 M|
† WYSIWYG formatting: In a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) word processor, UI buttons are used to apply formatting such as bold, italics or font size to your text. The style changes are immediately visible in your text within the app. Microsoft Word is one well known example of a WYSIWYG word processor.
‡ Markdown support: In a text editor with markdown support, you use markup syntax to format your plaintext file. To view your formatted text, you will need a markdown previewer, often built into the text editor.
§ Tabs: The ability to open multiple files simultaneously in tabs, and switch between them with just one touch of the screen.
¶ Storage: Some text editing apps store your files in the app's private internal storage. These files are not accessible by other apps, and may be deleted if you uninstall the app. In order to edit your files in other apps, you'll need to export them first. Other text editing apps can read and write text files on your phone's shared external storage (either the phone's memory or an SD card). With an "external storage" app, you can open a text file from anywhere on your phone, modify it, save it, and then immediately open it with any other "external storage" text editor, without having to perform any import or export steps.
Jota is a lightweight, highly functional text editor, which includes many features not always found in basic Android editing apps, such as search and replace, word count statistics, and on-screen copy and paste buttons.
Another app called Jota+ is also available, and the free version of Jota+ is basically the same as Jota.
DroidEdit is a text editor intended primarily for programmers, but which may be interesting for writers because of one feature found in very few other Android text editors: support for tabs, allowing you to open multiple files simultaneously and switch quickly between them with just one touch of the screen. Other features include 'find and replace', and a html color code inserter.
The ads in Droid Edit are always visible within the editor, but do not interrupt your workflow.
Like DroidEdit, QuickEdit is a powerful text editor with support for tabs, allowing you to easily switch between multiple files. Although it's not a markdown editor and cannot preview markdown files, it does support syntax highlighting for the markdown format.
Unfortunately, the ads in QuickEdit are obtrusive and annoying, appearing every time you save your file and forcing you to pause your workflow to dismiss the ad. Some ads also contain sound.
iA Writer is a simple yet powerful text editing app, with a markdown previewer and the option to export to Word format (docx).
Markor is an open-source markdown editor. This is one of the most powerful markdown apps available for Android, supporting advanced syntax such as tables and footnotes, and an on-screen menu with useful buttons for quickly applying markdown formats.
Jotterpad is a sleek, highly functional text editor aimed at authors and screenwriters. However, many of the features are inaccessible in the free version. Instead, a pop-up will prompt you to buy one of the paid versions.
Writer Plus is an extension of an app called Writer, no longer maintained. It is a simple, lightweight but highly rated app that gets the job done.
This sleek and simple text editor comes with a unique hashtag organisation feature. Each text file can have multiple tags, and these are used instead of a folder system to help you better organise your files.
anWriter is a text editor with a built-in html previewer, useful for blog writers or others who prepare articles for the web. It also functions as a simple and reliable text editor for writers, although the ads can be annoying and obtrusive.
One interesting feature is the on-screen arrow keys, which can help with navigation through the text when you don't have a physical keyboard. The convenient sidebar allows the user to switch easily between multiple open files.
Google Docs is a WYSIWYG word processor with a simple, clean interface. It includes many features that are not available in most other Android apps with this level of simplicity, such as the ability to insert image and tables. Google Docs also automatically detects headings so you can easily navigate in a long document. Its extensive list of output formats includes the Microsoft Word docx format and the epub format for ebooks.
The Microsoft Word app is free for devices with screens smaller than 10", and has limited functionality compared to the paid desktop version. The range of features it offers is relatively low compared to its size and memory usage, with it occupying 200 M of disk space and needing 1 G of RAM, more than many older or entry-level smartphones can handle.
The AndrOpen Office app is basically the same as the desktop version of Open Office, with only minor changes to the interface to make it easier to use on mobile. This has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, the user experience can be clunky and frustrating on a small screen. On the other hand, the app has features rarely found in other Android text editors/word processors, such as spelling and grammar check, footnotes, support for a bibliography database, and image insertion.
Note that AndrOpen Office Writer is not available to download as a standalone app. It comes bundled with the entire Open Office suite (Calc, Impress, Draw and Math).