Handwriting recognition

Hi, I’ve been using Scrivener since it was only available on OS X. Since then I’ve bought it for Windows and iOS, and I love it. I mostly use it for NaNoWriMo and for organizing my daydreams. I also evangelize about Scrivener whenever I attend a convention with writing-focused panels, about twice per year.

If you offered an iOS pro version that worked with the Apple Pencil and had handwriting recognition I’d buy Scrivener for a fourth time. I just got a new iPad and was blown away by this app called Nebo. I can copy and paste things across, but I thought I’d recommend looking into the possibility of integrating Nebo-style input into Scrivener.


Unfortunately Apple currently does not provide any handwriting recognition frameworks, so the only way to support this is to licence third-party frameworks or find a free one, none of which I would have control over. I can’t help feeling that it is only a matter of time before Apple creates such a framework, though, at which point I would definitely look at incorporating it.

All the best,

Is it that they don’t have a handwriting framework or merely that it is not currently integrated into existing product (Newton, I am looking straight at you)? :wink:

There’s certainly nothing public - no API calls a third-party developer can make. Do any Apple apps support handwriting recognition? I can’t think of any, but if so then there must be a black box framework in use by Apple somewhere, which would give added hope for a public API at some point…

No Apple apps so far as I know, and third-party handwriting apps are dropping off the app store at an alarming rate. I still use WritePad for iPad (which has a handwriting keyboard for use in other apps, as well as being a note-taking app in its own right) and its companion for iPhone, Penquills keyboard, which stinks in portrait mode but is usable in landscape.

I suggest that the Newton is so far in the past that its recognition library is likely not useable on newer processors.

i would be very surprised if there isn’t some group in Apple that keeps various Newton libraries up-to-date. I’ve seen big software companies do stranger things with software variants and configurations that had never seen the light of day.

Devin, since all my experience was with small-to-medium application/utility software development firms, you may be right about someone in the Cupertino basement keeping the Newton library up-to-date. I don’t know how really large software firms work, except by rumour.

While Apple may or may not have a future intention for handwriting recognition and may or may not have teams working on such projects already, it’s unlikely they have anyone updating the original Newton libraries.

They typically don’t have people spending time on backwards (in time) facing tasks, especially ones they do not see having application within their current strategic timeline.

But then, I’m not Apple, so could be proved completely wrong.

Just wanted to say that i’d be interested in handwriting recognition if it ever happened for Scrivener. I’m a writer and to be able to edit a document with an apple pencil would be a dream. I’ve used a few programs with handwriting recognition but i can’t edit with it. I know it will happen eventually, but i could use it right now.

Remember that Steve Jobs hated the Newton. Killing it was one of the first things he did when re-hired as CEO.

OTOH, he primarily hated it because it was clunky. The technology may have advanced enough to overcome that.

But if there’s a skunk works working on handwriting recognition at Apple, I would guess they started fresh rather than building on the Newton libraries.


I would love this. :heart:

Right now I’m going crazy trying to figure out a way to be able to use handwriting on iOS. There’s MyScript Nebo, which I’m considering. The only problem is I can’t figure out how to join Scrivener and it together. :frowning:

Well…maybe not the only problem. Since I don’t have it, there could be others. I don’t know.

I did a whole blog post on this, but to summarise, there’s still a few third party soft keyboards available for iOS that use handwriting recognition.

  • WritePad I for iPad by PhatWare is my favourite. It’s still being maintained. It has a note-taking app, but I only use it for the keyboard. I’m between iPads (whimper) at the moment so I can’t do a screenshot, but I use it for direct handwriting input into Scrivener quite successfully. In order to get good recognition I’ve found that I had to put a couple hours in on WritePad to select my letter forms, and to play with various options to make writing smooth for me.
  • Penquills, also by PhatWare, works on the iPhone, and like its iPad cousin benefits from customising the letter forms I use. (I’m writing this post with it.) It hasn’t been updated for a long time, though, and I’m afraid it will be abandoned if some iOS change breaks it.
  • Mazec works on both iPad and iPhone. It works on a different principle than the PhatWare products. It’s not my favourite, but many users prefer it.

Hope this helps!

It’s a shame the engine behind Nebo (MyScript Stylus) is no longer available for new downloads. Don’t really understand why as it’s the best of the lot.

I still use it because I bought it before it disappeared from the App Store and it’s still there under Purchased Apps (I put it on a new iPad only last week).

Mazec uses the MyScript engine.

Nebo’s app is great though. I would switch to them completely if they had typing and comments available. Sorry, Scrivener. I love you, but…handwriting gestures…or at least the ability to open documents in Word so we can use Ink Editor. And right now Windows Scrivener 3.0 beta works so poorly with the pen, I’m legit thinking of dropping Scrivener. So sad. But…you gotta do what you got to do to produce work in an efficient manner.

Your profile says you have Mac+iOS, so… how are you affected by the Windows beta version? Just curious…

My profile is old. I forgot to change the settings. Lol. I have used both Windows and Mac for awhile.

Edit: There, just for you I updated it. Lol. Either way, I don’t see what it matters. People that use Windows are affected by this.