Testing Scribble on iPad with Apple Pencil in iPadOS 14

Posted:
in iPad
Scribble has made the jump from Apple Watch to iPad With iPadOS 14. This massive update allows you to easily enter text anywhere on the iPad using your Apple Pencil. Here's how it works.

Scribble comes to iPad
Scribble comes to iPad


To use Scribble, you need your iPad on iPadOS 14 and your Apple Pencil. You can use Scribble almost anywhere, but we decided first to start with the Notes app.






When in the Notes app and creating a new note, by default the keyboard appears. We minimized the keyboard and tapped the screen with our Apple Pencil to start using it instead.

If Apple Pencil is active, you will see the Apple Pencil toolbar appear on the screen. This revamped toolbar still has your different writing utensils, as well as buttons to open the keyboard, go to Settings, and to return a line in the text document.

Toggle Scribble on or off in Apple Pencil settings
Toggle Scribble on or off in Apple Pencil settings


Note: Be sure to head to the Apple Pencil settings to ensure Scribble is enabled.

We wrote out with Apple Pencil "this is scribble" in our below-average handwriting. Despite our poor penmanship skills, the iPad was still able to detect what we wrote and convert it to the header of the note almost instantly. We then used the return button in the toolbar to go to a new line and try out another sentence.

When writing, you can tap and hold between words to enter a space between them. This is useful if Scribble accidentally combines words you didn't intend, which can happen if you write words too close together.

To get rid of something you wrote, you can just scratch it out and it disappears. To select a word -- or a group of words -- circle them to highlight them, then you can cut or copy as well as move them about.

Searching online with Apple Pencil using Scribble
Searching online with Apple Pencil using Scribble


This isn't limited to just Notes, as it works throughout the OS. For example, pulling down on the Home screen to open universal search brings up a search box that you can just write on top of, and it is recognized automatically. The same goes for within apps whenever there is text to fill out.

In Safari, you can fill out boxes. We used it to search for "HomeKit" on AppleInsider.com as well as entering our contact info on the Apple Store.

Scribble shortcut palette
Scribble shortcut palette


Whenever you use Scribble, you will notice the Scribble shortcut palette appear on the bottom of the display, one which differs from the large Apple Pencil toolbar found in apps like Notes. This smaller shortcut palette has undo and redo buttons, a keyboard shortcut, ellipses to get to additional settings, then some form of action button. When using universal search or search within Safari it will let you tap it to instantly run the query.

Useful, but not all the time

Scribble is a very cool new feature, one that adds a new layer of depth and usability to the iPad.

There are too many times where we get bogged down by having to switch between our Apple Pencil and the keyboard. We will be taking notes, editing a photo, or sketching and need to enter text and must change how we are using the tablet to better type on the keyboard. This fixes that issue completely.

That isn't to say it is always useful. If you are already using the keyboard or are using the Magic Keyboard, swapping to the Apple Pencil to edit text just doesn't make sense.

This does however demonstrate how the iPad is getting so much more powerful, by allowing it to adapt to exactly how you use it. Whether with a keyboard, a mouse, your finger, or the Apple Pencil, it simply works.

Scribble currently functions in English, but it is also capable of working in Chinese as well. It can even do both at the same time, allowing users to switch between the languages as they write and iPadOS distinguishes them apart as it translates the separate languages into typed text.

Apple Pencil gained many other skills with iPadOS, but we will save those for another deep dive.

Existing features
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,464member
    That's just amazing how accurate it is to recognize your horrible handwriting. LOL 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 36
    Is it only for the 2nd generation pencil??
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 36
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 2,114member
    ehtom825 said:
    Is it only for the 2nd generation pencil??
    Handwriting recognition is not limited to Pencil 2, it works with Pencil 1 too.
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 36


    Scribble shortcut palette

    27,426 unread emails? The OCD in me cringes at that! 

    (PS: Scribble looks really good. Another sign that my original iPad Air is getting long in the tooth.)
    dewmeRayz2016fred1watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 36
    Does anyone have any thoughts on how — assuming my question makes sense — one might improve ‘friction’ on the glass surface when writing on the iPad with the Pencil? I.e., to create a feel similar to writing on paper (than on glass). 

    I am guessing some type of not-too-smooth screen protector. Any suggestions would be most welcome!
    edited June 2020
  • Reply 6 of 36
    Does anyone have any thoughts on how — assuming my question makes sense — one might improve ‘friction’ on the glass surface when writing on the iPad with the Pencil? I.e., to create a feel similar to writing on paper (than on glass). 

    I am guessing some type of not-too-smooth screen protector. Any suggestions would be most welcome!
    Use LightScribe or one of the many alternatives that exist for decades to write on real paper and get OCR’d simultaneously
  • Reply 7 of 36
    marc gmarc g Posts: 65member
    There actually is a screen protector that does exactly what you’re wondering about. One of these sites should point you in the right direction. https://www.esrgear.com/blog/best-paperlike-screen-protectors-for-ipad-pro-2020/
    https://paperlike.com/  Hope that helps. 

    Marc G.
    anantksundaramRayz2016rundhvidchasmuraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 36
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,555member
    I played around with Scribble for a couple of hours with the Apple Pencil 1 to get a feel for it. The handwriting recognition is impressive. However, as others have noted the tactile feedback with writing on glass is still a big detractor. At least on my iPad Pro there seems to be a constant struggle between whether the Scribble input or virtual keyboard has the focus. I still feel like I'm writing with a ten foot long pencil when entering text into edit boxes in the UI. Pencil input into standard edit controls seems very disconnected. When using the pencil in text editors the inability to insert carriage returns and discern paragraphs feels unnatural. I guess what I'm say is that handwriting recognition is great, but it is only part of the overall handwriting experience and Apple has not yet captured the full picture, not by a long shot.

    I still feel like I need to conform to the tool's expectations instead of relying on the tool to conform to my expectations. Truth be told, if I was heading for a meeting today where I'd be taking notes I would still grab my steno pad and a pen rather than my iPad Pro. In my opinion, until Apple can get to the point where the iPad is the default, zero compromise, and natural choice it will not serve my needs for handwriting based note taking. It gets in the way.

    I applaud Apple's efforts, but the margin for error in this particular application space is so damn minuscule, much like voice based interaction, that being 99.9 percent on-the-mark makes for a compelling demo but falls flat on its face for being a reliable tool that users can count on for everyday use. This is a Big O challenge, and Apple is making impressive progress, but I would not get too pumped up about its utility at this point. It has a long way to go before it becomes generally usable. I have no doubt that Apple will keep drilling deep on this until they get it to the level of maturity that it needs to be. It still feels more like a novelty and toy than a boring tool that just works. Whether the maturity process takes 2 years or 5 years or 10 years is the real question. This is absolutely not a knock on Apple. This is a very difficult problem to solve and I'm grateful that they are making a concerted effort to solve it.
    edited June 2020 Dontmentionthewarrazorpitmontrosemacsmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 36
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,585member
    What’s really exciting about this is it’s demoed on what’s basically a 2 year old SoC! The delays on new SoCs will be less. And as the betas go on, we should see fewer errors, though there weren’t too many.

    as for the glass feel. Well, I’ve been over that for years now. You just have to stop thinking about it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 36
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,407member
    melgross said:

    as for the glass feel. Well, I’ve been over that for years now. You just have to stop thinking about it.
    Not sure if you’re writing equations/formulae with subscripts, superscripts, Greek symbols etc.

    Not sure how much you do of that, if any. If you don’t do a great deal of that, you probably don’t understand. 
  • Reply 11 of 36
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,407member
    marc g said:
    There actually is a screen protector that does exactly what you’re wondering about. One of these sites should point you in the right direction. https://www.esrgear.com/blog/best-paperlike-screen-protectors-for-ipad-pro-2020/
    https://paperlike.com/  Hope that helps. 

    Marc G.
    Fabulous. I will try it out, thank you!

    Super helpful. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 36
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,464member
    I use ArmorSuit MilitaryShield (ASMS) Screen Protector for writing. I've tried other "Paper like" protections and they are way too "smooth" and don't give a sense of friction at all. The ASMS is a flexible plastic sheet and it gives a lot more friction and it will "dent" if you write too hard but heals over time. I like it a lot more than any other protectors. I cannot stand writing on a "glass" sheet. There will always be dents and "scratches" and tiny bubbles on ASMS which can be bothersome for those who insist on pristine glassy surface but the sensation of writing is way much better and overrides my OCD for perfection. 




    gregoriusmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 36
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    melgross said:
    What’s really exciting about this is it’s demoed on what’s basically a 2 year old SoC! The delays on new SoCs will be less. And as the betas go on, we should see fewer errors, though there weren’t too many.

    as for the glass feel. Well, I’ve been over that for years now. You just have to stop thinking about it.
    I didn’t like it at first, but I just stuck with it. My handwriting is now readable when scribbling on the iPad, and surprisingly good when I write on paper.  

    mariowincowatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 36
    dewme said:
    I played around with Scribble for a couple of hours with the Apple Pencil 1 to get a feel for it. The handwriting recognition is impressive. However, as others have noted the tactile feedback with writing on glass is still a big detractor. At least on my iPad Pro there seems to be a constant struggle between whether the Scribble input or virtual keyboard has the focus. I still feel like I'm writing with a ten foot long pencil when entering text into edit boxes in the UI. Pencil input into standard edit controls seems very disconnected. When using the pencil in text editors the inability to insert carriage returns and discern paragraphs feels unnatural. I guess what I'm say is that handwriting recognition is great, but it is only part of the overall handwriting experience and Apple has not yet captured the full picture, not by a long shot.

    I still feel like I need to conform to the tool's expectations instead of relying on the tool to conform to my expectations. Truth be told, if I was heading for a meeting today where I'd be taking notes I would still grab my steno pad and a pen rather than my iPad Pro. In my opinion, until Apple can get to the point where the iPad is the default, zero compromise, and natural choice it will not serve my needs for handwriting based note taking. It gets in the way.

    I applaud Apple's efforts, but the margin for error in this particular application space is so damn minuscule, much like voice based interaction, that being 99.9 percent on-the-mark makes for a compelling demo but falls flat on its face for being a reliable tool that users can count on for everyday use. This is a Big O challenge, and Apple is making impressive progress, but I would not get too pumped up about its utility at this point. It has a long way to go before it becomes generally usable. I have no doubt that Apple will keep drilling deep on this until they get it to the level of maturity that it needs to be. It still feels more like a novelty and toy than a boring tool that just works. Whether the maturity process takes 2 years or 5 years or 10 years is the real question. This is absolutely not a knock on Apple. This is a very difficult problem to solve and I'm grateful that they are making a concerted effort to solve it.
    Hmm, Steve was probably right after all.
    edited June 2020 williamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 36
    danvmdanvm Posts: 1,453member
    melgross said:
    as for the glass feel. Well, I’ve been over that for years now. You just have to stop thinking about it.
    I do a lot of writing in my Surface Pro and it's very nice the you can change the friction level by replacing the tip in the Pen. The writing experience improves a lot.  I think Apple should do the same, instead of just stop thinking about it.  

    Another thing that IMO will improve the writing experience with the Pencil is a eraser. It's very quick and easy turn the Pen to erase something in the Surface instead of the double tap you have to do with the Pencil.  
  • Reply 16 of 36
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,555member
    danvm said:
    melgross said:
    as for the glass feel. Well, I’ve been over that for years now. You just have to stop thinking about it.
    I do a lot of writing in my Surface Pro and it's very nice the you can change the friction level by replacing the tip in the Pen. The writing experience improves a lot.  I think Apple should do the same, instead of just stop thinking about it.  

    Another thing that IMO will improve the writing experience with the Pencil is a eraser. It's very quick and easy turn the Pen to erase something in the Surface instead of the double tap you have to do with the Pencil.  
    Actually, Apple nailed the erase thing with Scribble. All you have to do is “scratch out” the text you want to erase, as if you’re trying to black it out. It works great and is much better than flipping the pen on a Surface. A lot of things work great with Scribble once you conform to the tool’s expectations, and I guess as others have said, get over the unnatural “writing on glass” ergonomic. I’m not there yet, so either I need more training, the tool needs more training, or some combination of the two.

    Like I said, this is a tough problem that many technically and human factors experts have been attacking for decades. Some of them put more emphasis on the pen side of the equation and others put more emphasis on the writing surface part of the equation. As users, we are the in the middle and our experience between pen/pencil and paper/tablet really determines how well the system delivers on the promise. Apple’s approach seems to be very successful for artists and sketchers but handwriting is a tougher problem to solve.

    For me, part of the problem is that I haven’t actually been writing a whole lot for a very long time. Handwriting is no longer my primary means of getting thoughts committed to a permanent or semi-permanent form. My muscle memory associated with handwriting is way out of shape. I suspect I’m not alone, especially when I see how adept younger people who grew up with smart devices in their hands from a very early age are at text entry on phones. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of younger people struggle to write using a pen/pencil on paper. Perhaps they would prefer writing on glass, but I suspect they’d rather just type. 
    edited June 2020 mariowincowatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 36
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    I've playing with and using voice recognition and hand writing recognition since the early 90's.  And it was amazing, but not really functional in a real world environment.

    But now, having used both on my Apple Watch, these are ready for prime time in real life.
    A couple years ago, when my phone was out of commission for a few days, I was forced into using hand writing recognition on my Series 1 Apple Watch and it was slow (one character at a time) but amazingly accurate.

    Now, when I'm out running with my Series 4 LTE and the iPhone is back in my car and I get a message I need to reply to I simply speak the message into the Apple Watch and I'm back to running again.   And, it translates my voice almost perfectly.   The only thing it's not adept at is context sensitivity to the words -- like it guesses whether I'm saying "see" or "sea".  But, honestly, it is rare that I can't send the message just as it is.

    These things have, over the past 25 years, grown up into mature, very usable products.
    chasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 36
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    danvm said:
    melgross said:
    as for the glass feel. Well, I’ve been over that for years now. You just have to stop thinking about it.
    I do a lot of writing in my Surface Pro and it's very nice the you can change the friction level by replacing the tip in the Pen. The writing experience improves a lot.  I think Apple should do the same, instead of just stop thinking about it.  


    Who says they've stopped thinking about it?

     https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/12/19/apple-pencil-could-better-simulate-drawing-on-paper-with-haptic-feedback

     They could just be looking at a different way of doing it.
    edited June 2020 roundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 36
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    dewme said:
    I played around with Scribble for a couple of hours with the Apple Pencil 1 to get a feel for it. The handwriting recognition is impressive. However, as others have noted the tactile feedback with writing on glass is still a big detractor. At least on my iPad Pro there seems to be a constant struggle between whether the Scribble input or virtual keyboard has the focus. I still feel like I'm writing with a ten foot long pencil when entering text into edit boxes in the UI. Pencil input into standard edit controls seems very disconnected. When using the pencil in text editors the inability to insert carriage returns and discern paragraphs feels unnatural. I guess what I'm say is that handwriting recognition is great, but it is only part of the overall handwriting experience and Apple has not yet captured the full picture, not by a long shot.

    I still feel like I need to conform to the tool's expectations instead of relying on the tool to conform to my expectations. Truth be told, if I was heading for a meeting today where I'd be taking notes I would still grab my steno pad and a pen rather than my iPad Pro. In my opinion, until Apple can get to the point where the iPad is the default, zero compromise, and natural choice it will not serve my needs for handwriting based note taking. It gets in the way.

    I applaud Apple's efforts, but the margin for error in this particular application space is so damn minuscule, much like voice based interaction, that being 99.9 percent on-the-mark makes for a compelling demo but falls flat on its face for being a reliable tool that users can count on for everyday use. This is a Big O challenge, and Apple is making impressive progress, but I would not get too pumped up about its utility at this point. It has a long way to go before it becomes generally usable. I have no doubt that Apple will keep drilling deep on this until they get it to the level of maturity that it needs to be. It still feels more like a novelty and toy than a boring tool that just works. Whether the maturity process takes 2 years or 5 years or 10 years is the real question. This is absolutely not a knock on Apple. This is a very difficult problem to solve and I'm grateful that they are making a concerted effort to solve it.
    Really makes you appreciate what the engineers were able to do back in the late 80’s and early 90’s with the Newton and even Palm Pilot for that matter.

    I was frustrated that Apple seemingly abandoned the development in this area of user input. Steve was right, no one wants to be required to use a stylus, but they make certain things a heck of a lot easier. I hate how so many so called journalists took his words out of context.
    GeorgeBMacroundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 36
    danvmdanvm Posts: 1,453member
    dewme said:
    danvm said:
    melgross said:
    as for the glass feel. Well, I’ve been over that for years now. You just have to stop thinking about it.
    I do a lot of writing in my Surface Pro and it's very nice the you can change the friction level by replacing the tip in the Pen. The writing experience improves a lot.  I think Apple should do the same, instead of just stop thinking about it.  

    Another thing that IMO will improve the writing experience with the Pencil is a eraser. It's very quick and easy turn the Pen to erase something in the Surface instead of the double tap you have to do with the Pencil.  
    Actually, Apple nailed the erase thing with Scribble. All you have to do is “scratch out” the text you want to erase, as if you’re trying to black it out. It works great and is much better than flipping the pen on a Surface. A lot of things work great with Scribble once you conform to the tool’s expectations, and I guess as others have said, get over the unnatural “writing on glass” ergonomic. I’m not there yet, so either I need more training, the tool needs more training, or some combination of the two.

    Like I said, this is a tough problem that many technically and human factors experts have been attacking for decades. Some of them put more emphasis on the pen side of the equation and others put more emphasis on the writing surface part of the equation. As users, we are the in the middle and our experience between pen/pencil and paper/tablet really determines how well the system delivers on the promise. Apple’s approach seems to be very successful for artists and sketchers but handwriting is a tougher problem to solve.

    For me, part of the problem is that I haven’t actually been writing a whole lot for a very long time. Handwriting is no longer my primary means of getting thoughts committed to a permanent or semi-permanent form. My muscle memory associated with handwriting is way out of shape. I suspect I’m not alone, especially when I see how adept younger people who grew up with smart devices in their hands from a very early age are at text entry on phones. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of younger people struggle to write using a pen/pencil on paper. Perhaps they would prefer writing on glass, but I suspect they’d rather just type. 
    I didn't knew about the "scratch out" for erasing.  For some reason, I miss that in the WWDC keynote.  That's a big improvement over double tap.  Being better than the eraser, maybe.  I can see cases where the eraser is easier vs scratching out. For example, erasing long part of a note or erasing multiples notes in a PDF document requires less effort with the eraser vs scratching out each note. At the same time, I suppose there are cases where scratching out would be better. 

    Regarding the writing experience, I think Apple should improve it.  Apple drawing experience is better than the Surface, but writing experience IMO is better with the Surface. And friction is one of the reasons.  I see no reason that I have to adapt to a worst experience when you can improve with something as simple as replacing the tip, as MS did with the Pen.  

    Regarding taking notes vs typing, I agree with you that many people prefer typing for most things.  But there are cases where note taking is better, for example when annotating a PDF or Word document, or when working with equations.  In addition, it's completely silent compared to keyboards, and that's a big plus in conference rooms

    It's nice to see Apple and MS improving in this area, specially for me, since I have to take notes in a weekly basis. 


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