Handwriting - very good news!

One of my most awaited updates was the introduction of handwriting and recognition ability. It didn’t quite come from Agenda so far and I was forced to use not-perfect solutions, like Mazec keyboard. But I am now on iPadOS Beta 14 and I am happy to share that it is part of the new features included by Apple! With the Apple Pencil you can now directly hand write in any text field and get it converted to text. I immediately tried with Agenda and it seems to work like a charm! This made my day, my month and maybe my year!


I agree, Apple’s introduction of the scribble opens new possibilities to how we interact with the iPad, Out of the box, Agenda is doing pretty well with scribble. I can’t wait till Agenda will start to integrate the new possibilities of scribble. Apple keeps improving scribble from betas to betas so I have high hope that iPadOS 15 will be great for the pencil interaction.

The areas where I see improvements can be done are, but not necessarily agendas fault:

  • Lack of gesture for entering a new line. Right now you either have to bring the keyboard up or use the PencilKit return button. Sometimes it takes a lot of taps before getting there.

  • The scratch gesture is a lot of hit and miss. Most of the time it selects the words instead.

  • fixing typos is just a nightmare, you just better pop up the keyboard and use the backspace

  • hand written recognition is dictionary based so getting acronyms and having letter casing(upper/lower) appear the way you want is painful. Same with non-dictionary characters braces, punctuations…

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The good news is we have now finished the basic scribble functionality, and it will appear in a beta after the release of version 11 (that release is planned for about a week from now).

Hopefully the work we put in on it will make things nicer (eg giving more space for writing), but most of the feature is a black box. Apple is in complete control there. We have no influence over any of the aspects of text conversion, so we can’t improve on typo-fixing, scratch gestures, or acronyms. We never see the actual drawing in Agenda — we just get given words as if they were typed on a keyboard.

So your milage may vary. When the beta does come out, please send in feedback, and we will try to at least address the things we can do something about.

Kind regards,