At long last, Microsoft has added inking support to its Android OneNote app, for now just for beta users. OneNote in general is one of, if not the most powerful note-taking software but its Android offering has lagged behind the desktop and Windows mobile versions.
Given that Windows has been in the inking business much longer than anyone else – remember tablet PCs? – it should come as no surprise that OneNote is far better at managing handwritten input than anyone else. On the desktop, it is remarkably proficient at recognizing handwritten input as well as it would typed words. On OneNote, handwritten notes are automatically scanned for their content as they would if you typed them.
Then, if you searched for terms you had written with an active stylus in OneNote, you would actually be able to find them. Of course, it can also turn your handwritten input into text visually as well. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot better than competitors.
That handwriting support was lacking in the Android version was a big disappointment to users like myself, who own an active digitizer Android tablet, because nothing compares overall to OneNote. Evernote comes closest with its recent adoption of inking support.
For the uninitiated, an active stylus/active digitizer is the hardware technology that enables extremely high accuracy handwriting and drawing on a touchscreen. It’s difficult to write usefully with a normal touchscreen, but an active stylus device, like the Samsung Note series, can have far more accuracy and precision. Digital artists use this technology, for example.
My reaction to this update?
Remember that, for now, this is only available to beta users. However, it’s pretty easy to join the beta. First, join the OneNote Beta community on Google Plus. Then, just head to this page to opt into the beta. Once you have opted in, head to the Play Store and an update for OneNote should show up. That’s your beta update.
My first thoughts on the implementation is that it is impressive. It is more sophisticated than just the minimum support that would be needed to allow you to draw with your finger.
While you can draw with your finger or a simple stylus, the implementation specifically supports active styluses like the S Pen. While using the S Pen to ink, your finger can be used to navigate around the page instead of adding stray inputs like it would with a simpler setup.
Let us know what you think and if you’ve caught any bugs in the implementation!