iOS, converting handwriting to text

I asked and learned whether or not Scrivener could or had plans to allow handwritten notes or comments against manuscripts, and/or writing out the actual manuscripts, and they said they knew of no plans.
My follow up question that I know pose to all of you is are there any third party apps that convert to text for easy import into Scrivener?
The idea is to be able to use my iPad and stylus for prompt flash fiction events, or even to edit manuscripts, that can be brought back into the Scrivener app seamlessly.
Thank you!!!

Notes Plus can do it… … g-to-text/

… but personally I prefer to use the Drafts app. It’s not for handwriting, it uses a keyboard, but it is super-easy to use and you can easily send the text along to the Scratch pad in Scrivener (provided you store your Scratch pad on Dropbox).

As you’ve probably learnt in looking at the possibility of converting handwriting to text for Scrivener, handwriting-to-text is a developing technology, and therefore imperfect. Myscript is a company that’s been working at the technology longer than most, it licenses its technology to a number of other companies, and its latest application for iOS, Myscript Nebo, is highly regarded. It’s a note-taking application and you’d have to copy and paste what you write into Scrivener. Another of Myscript’s handwriting-to-text pieces of software, MyScript Stylus, will replace your keyboard and so may write directly into Scrivener; I don’t know because I’ve not tried it.

I can speak to the handwriting replacement for onscreen keyboard issue.

I’ve used both MyScript Stylus (on-screen keyboard replacement) and WritePad for iPad (which also has an on-screen keyboard replacement.) Each has a learning curve, and depending on your style of handwriting you may prefer one or the other. I’ve used both for input into Scrivener, and they work as well for Scriv as they do for other apps.

Neither is for someone who wants to handwrite fast and not worry about the writing-to-text conversion. With each, I need to keep a close eye on how the conversion is going if I don’t want nonsense to end up in my Scrivener doc. I’ve settled on WritePad, and use it when I just can’t figure out what to write next. I pick up my stylus and start handwriting, and pretty soon I know what to write–at which point I switch to an external keyboard because it’s MUCH more efficient. YMMV.

I’ve just bought an iPad Pro 10.5" and have been looking for handwriting conversion apps. I’ve downloaded MyScript Nebo, Goodnotes, and Notes Plus.

If all you want to do is write text which can be converted then imported into Scrivener then IMO there is no question you should use Nebo (which also happens to be the cheapest, though none of them is expensive).

All three do the handwriting conversion in real time behind the scenes, using the same engine (My Script’s) so the results are comparable. The difference is that Nebo displays the results as you type in a bar above the paragraph: you can see whether the conversion has succeeded immediately. Double tap and the paragraph is shown in its converted form, which you can then correct (in handwriting) using several gestures: e.g. Scrub out to delete text, a vertical downwards line to add a space or split a line, a vertical upwards line to join words or lines.

There are formatting gestures too: draw a box to highlight a selection, underline words to emphasise, double underline a paragraph to make it a heading, bullet lists etc.

This all works really well and is just so much simpler than the method used by Notes Plus and Goodnotes which focus on retaining your handwritten notes as they were written on the screen rather than showing the converted text. You can see it, but you have to draw round the handwriting, select it then choose convert: after a delay the text is shown in an a dialogue box for copying/sharing. This is excellent for note taking, but simply impractical for longer text.

Hugh’s comment above about having to copy and paste into Scrivener is no longer correct, fortunately. All three can export as Word docx (not RTF) and as far as I can tell function properly as Scrivener docs when they’re imported (via the normal Share mechanism).

Nebo can also incorporate diagrams (with recognition of shapes), and photos, and it enables you to enter (and even calculate, to some extent) formulae, which it will convert. The other two probably have more features for visual notes, but they are a long way behind Nebo for ease of use with text input.

TLDR: Goodnotes and Notes Plus are good apps, but only Nebo is a practical way to import handwritten drafts into Scrivener. IMHO, of course…

Even simpler than all the above is to install MyScript Stylus - Handwriting Keyboard. It allows you to write in the space where the keyboard usually appears & converts your writing into text on the fly. It’s fast and remarkably accurate, even with my scratchy scrawl.
My only hesitation is it sometimes struggles with punctuation: I still haven’t worked at how to get it to recognise an N- or M-dash and parentheses sometimes take a couple of goes. Also, MyScript don’t seem to have updated it for a couple of years, so I’m not sure if it’s being actively maintained.

Having said that I used to use it daily, and still use it regularly, with few problems.

While I also have Nebo, and have tried several other Notes apps, I keep coming back to MyScript. Highly recommended.
(written on my iPad with an Apple Pencil and MyScript Stylus)

I’m hoping that Apple will add a handwriting-to-text framework of their own to iOS at some point, at which point we can make use of it. That would be far be the best solution. I thought they might add something like this to iOS 11, as it seems an obvious addition to iOS. I would put good money on Apple having been working on something like this behind the scenes, though. They’re probably just waiting until it is better than anything else out there before unveiling it. I’d be surprised if we don’t see it introduced with a big iOS update in the next few years.

I hope that you’re right, Keith, and I suspect that you are. Although aware that handwriting-to-text isn’t technically easy, I’ve been somewhat obsessional for a good while about the advantages for any kind of creative writing of handwriting over typing (and was pleased when brain research in the US appeared to support my obsessions a year or two ago). It will be great when one can hand-write directly into Scrivener for iOS and see the words converted to text directly on the Scrivener page.

Hi Hugh

allow myself to pinch you here.
will Nebo allow to write in various languages?
i’m polyglot and write mostly in german, english and/or french.
how is Nebo able to handle this?

carpe diem

should i dug our my old Apple Newton :smiley:

Marcus, I’ve sent you a PM about this in response to yours. But I think the short answer is that Nebo can handle 59 languages, including French and two forms of German, as well of course as English.

If you like writing on physical paper and have a bit of money to burn…

I’ve been rather impressed by Livescribe 3’s “smartpen”, and especially impressed by the Neo N2. You write on special paper (buy or print) with a Bluetooth pen that syncs to your phone, then you have the app transcribe your handwriting into text. From there you can email it, sync with cloud services, or whatever.

I loved my Livescribe pen until it…stopped working (sadly a regular occurrence for the pens) and Livescribe weren’t interested in repairs. Unfortunately (for me) the new versions require you to do everything online rather than use the application (and have everything local) like my busted pen did. I could write for hours, plug it in to my not online laptop, download the pages and convert it with MyScript and whack it in Scrivener without phaffing about with email etc. If you don’t always have internet access like me, the new system is a crock. I bought the new pen, discovered that I couldn’t use it locally and took it back to the shop.

I am using the MyScript “keyboard” for the ipad though and am impressed how much better it copes with handwriting than my Livescribe pen/books did.

This matches my experience with Nebo - a step up from Livescribe.

Agreed - although I don’t yet use Nebo on my ipad, when using a Microsoft Surface 3, Nebo is much more accurate for me than LiveScribe ever was, and also much better than Microsoft’s own OneNote. It would be nice, I suppose, to have some kind of handwriting integration into Scrivener, but copying text from Nebo works well, even if (like me) you’re moving between Windows and iOS.