With its unforgetful elephant icon and integration with almost every major OS going, as well as Moleskine notebooks, Evernote has long been the favorite notetaking, blogging, and even writing, app for many mobile device and PC users. And, as they rightly claim, “some of our engineers and researchers were the pioneers that, decades ago, made today’s mainstream digital handwriting possible.” So it’s a pity that, when that functionality finally arrives in full on the Android iteration of Evernote, it comes in a way that falls short of that legacy, and the technology’s potential.

Evernote digital handwriting is based on Penultimate, “the original and easiest-to-use handwriting app for iPad that combines the natural experience of pen and paper with the flexibility and syncing of Evernote.” As Evernote … um … notes, “recently, we acquired Penultimate, the amazing iPad handwriting app.” And Penultimate and Evernote have both offered handwriting recognition for some time – but only as a search option for finding and tagging words within digital notes, not as a full-fledged input solution that creates digital text. The new version of the Android app offers smooth high-quality digital inking, seamless integration of handwriting into typed text and drawings – but not full-on HWR input.

There have been many other apps that offer this kind of solution on Android and iOS for years. WritePad is one standout solution for both platforms; 7notes and MyScript Stylus Beta just two others on Android. Microsoft, long an unsung leader in the handwriting recognition field, has HWR baked in to the Windows 8 OS. Google Handwrite even offers handwritten search options on the main Google search page.

I’ve used handwriting recognition as one of my main writing options for years. It’s not for everybody, but for those who appreciate its virtues – such as being able to write one-handed – it’s a killer. And it’s a pity not to see Evernote, with its emphasis on flexibility and creativity, push its app out that final last logical step. Next time, maybe.


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