I had the opportunity to see a demo of Phatware's Writepad at Macworld and was very impressed. It lets you simply write on the screen using your finger or a stylus pen rather than using the onscreen keyboard, and translates your writing into typed characters. You can then edit that text — copy, paste, insert characters, etc. — via simple gestures. The app has a ton of features, such as shorthand, which lets you enter just two characters to evoke frequently used words or phrases. You can email your notes from within the app, post directly to Facebook and Twitter, sync with Dropbox, print, make a pdf, and more. A new version that came out earlier this month added a redesigned Document Manager, which allows you to store your documents in the app's folder hierarchy and search all documents for specific characters or words. The app costs $3.99 for the iPhone version and $9.99 for the iPad version.
When I interviewed Stan Miasnikov, the president of Phatware, I had just finished interviewing Nuance, the developers of speech recognition, so my obvious question was: why does one need this? Why not just use speech recognition? Stan pointed out that there are many instances when it's not appropriate to use voice input, such as if you're taking notes in class or in a meeting. He says both are useful. And he even claimed that it's faster. I was certainly impressed with how fast his input was in the demo.