By Steve Overton on Wed, 12/22/2010
My heart went a'racing when I saw PhatWare release PhatPad ($4.99) for the iPad. The video shows how you can write on your iPad and have it recognize and transpose it into typed text.....just like my beloved Newton did.
I have never been able to understand why handwriting recognition pretty much disappeared after everyone made fun of the Newton. Windows mobile did have a respectable engine in Transcriber that actually did a very good job of recognition on Windows phones.....you remember Windows phones? They have been gone since before the iPhone, and were mostly used by non Palm users....you remember Palm? Oh well,
Steve Jobs first assignment he gave himself when he came back to Apple, was to kill the Newton and with it, handwriting recognition. So we haven't seen it since.
PhatWare has been around since those days and has always had their hand in handwriting recognition, so to speak. PhatPad is a noble first gen app in this arena. It does a good job of recognizing handwritten text. You can write on the screen, then highlight what you wrote and have PhatPad recognize it and transpose it into typed text. The other option is to open a window pane at the bottom of the screen and write there, hit an enter button and the line you wrote jumps to the screen, recognized,
The only challenge is writing with a finger or stylus. My experience with writing on my iPad with my finger, is that it feels unnatural. I can write, pretty much to prove I can do it, but I don't think I will be taking long pages of notes that way. My issue with a stylus is that I have to apply too much pressure for text to be recognized, so it feels awkward also. None of this is PhatWare's problem, it's Apple's....and Jobs has said that styluses are dead and no one wants to use them, so I am not sure where this will all end up.
Aside from all this, the app is fairly robust. You can draw shapes and the app will snap them into place. You can type text and move it around on the page as if it was a text box. Documents can be printed, emailed or saved as a pdf.
I am encouraged to see developers bringing apps to market like this and have grand expectations that one day I will be able to write on my iPad like I could on my Newton. (....begin dream sequence)