Sep 26, 2012
For old Palm heads like me, digital ink takes us back. I cut my teeth on Palm devices, cut my thumbs on BlackBerry devices, and am finally a touchscreen junkie.
While alternative methods of data entry are not exactly new on Android, ones that offer handwriting recognition can provide additional functionality. WritePad does just this.
WritePad for Android is the port of the brainchild of PhatWare, a name that probably will be fairly familiar to Palm and WinMo folks. The premise of WritePad is fairly simple: it gave me the ability to write with my finger.
I found the setup easy; all it took was downloading and selecting it as default keyboard. After getting into the app, I went in and viewed the tutorial, and then got busy. The UI was slick without being smarmy, and still retained a simple feel. In the write area, the yellow (by default) area is where I began to input text. I found that while there was an option to toggle between non-joined letters and cursive, non-joined writing worked best for me. Entries into the yellow box were translated into text box above, allowing me to change the text if necessary. I thought it was reasonably accurate. I also found that using the device in landscape was infinitely more comfortable to use.
Additional options allowed me to toggle notifications, vibrations on key press, auto insertion, correction, learning and even space added at the end of words. One of the best features, in my opinion, is one that will be recognized by old BB users: shorthand. Shorthand refers to the way WritePad handles auto-text. Thus, TL automatically placed my entire signature. Words that I used often could be invoked by a combination of letters. There were buttons that allowed me to choose capitals and numbers while typing.
This application proved to be highly customizable, giving me options to change the color of the write area, ink color and more. I loved that it incorporated a standard keyboard as an option; you can switch back and forth, and I like it when apps deliberately try to remove any reasons I might have to not adopt it.
One drawback (for me at least) was that I could not figure out how to make the app window smaller. Thus, whatever program I was entering data into (like a web form) was obscured. Not a biggie by any means, but it took some getting used to.
As an added bonus, this app works with styluses.
In the right hands (possessing flexible fingers), WritePad can be a great resource. With some dedication, it can be a great input tool, especially for quick entries.