It’s always struck me that handwriting was a natural way to use a tablet computer, though maybe this is a hangover from my days as a Pocket PC user! But the Apple Way is not to use a pen or stylus but to poke at a touch-sensitive screen with a finger tip.Steve Jobs famously disliked the idea of using a stylus with a tablet.
(Steve Jobs) It's like we said on the iPad, if you see a stylus, they blew it.So iPad users generally have to make do with either their finger or a third party ‘stylus’ that mimicks a finger tip, usually with a squishy rubbery tip that frankly is not much use when it comes to writing. I’ve tried a few of these, without really finding the experience useful for writing - they are a bit more practical for scribbling quick diagrams in my experience.I also have a Samsung smartphone, the Galaxy Note 2. I bought this largely because it comes with a stylus and surprisingly good handwriting recognition software. I can use the stylus for text entry for most, if not all, of the apps for which it would be appropriate. The stylus fits snugly and neatly into the phone’s case. It’s not a simple device - (this article explains how the thing works - Break It Down – How Does The S Pen Work?) but it works admirably, giving the real sensation of writing. In contrast to the spongy rubber blob of a typical iPad stylus, you pretty well know where the line you’re writing will appear on the screen. The S-pen is good enough in use that it may well be the deciding factor in which model of tablet I buy to replace my iPad3 in the future.There are several iPad apps I’ve always felt would benefit from the use of a stylus:
- Any of a number of note-taking apps - ideally with handwriting recognition.
- Sketching apps (which would include the Evernote app Penultimate).
- Pdf annotation apps such as iAnnotate or Papership. Papership is particularly useful to me as it accesses my library of pdf files indexed and organised in Mendeley.
- Evernote. This would be a dream, but really I think script entry would be limited to Penultimate. On my Galaxy Note 2, I can scribble into Evernote to my heart’s content.