Apple Pencil, the smart pencil
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It is one of the most talked about stylus accessories in the world of computing devices, but the initial assumption was that the Apple Pencil was a tool designed more for sketching than writing on the iPad Pro. However, it eventually became a great productivity tool for the iPad Pro 12.9, iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 9.7 devices, along with the keyboard accessories, which made these iPad Pro devices viable laptop and PC replacements. However, there are those who still prefer to scribble rather than type on a keyboard, and if you belong to this tribe, then the Apple Pencil accessory could well be a great tool in your hands.
With the iOS 11 operating system now rolling out for iOS devices, Apple is introducing even newer and smarter Pencil capabilities for the iPad Pro 12.9, 10.5 and 9.7 devices. There is a new feature called Instant Markup, which lets you mark and scribble comments on a screenshot or a PDF file. Then there is the Instant Notes feature: here, you can simply touch the Apple Pencil on the screen of the iPad Pro even when it may be locked, and start scribbling notes immediately. The Notes app has also been upgraded, and it now allows for in-line handmade drawings and scribbles, and the rest of the text aligns itself smartly around it.
Apart from what Apple has done to improve the Pencil experience with iOS 11, you still need the right type of apps downloaded on the iPad to use the Pencil in an even wider range of scenarios. Here are some of the best apps to try out.
It is one of the best-known apps for the Apple Pencil and it literally lives up to its name, of making your iPad Pro feel like a sheet of paper. It has earned more fame as an artist’s tool—you can draw on it, make sketches, outline structures and so on. But what a lot of people forget is that you can also write on it, just as you would on, well, paper. There are a number of writing and sketching tools available for it as well, making it the perfect companion for anyone who wants a digital notebook. If you doodle as much as you scribble, this is perhaps the best app for you.
Coming from the house of Evernote, Penultimate is an app designed for those who simply want to make notes with minimum fuss. It even lets you specify your pen grip and wrist position and lets you pick the paper type you would like to write on. No, there is no handwriting recognition, but you can search your handwritten notes (the app recognizes characters). And well, it can all synchronize very smoothly indeed with the very popular Evernote app (which is free to use, with optional Premium subscriptions), ensuring that all your typed and handwritten notes are in one place.
Adobe Acrobat Reader
To pen down comments and corrections on an existing document, especially on PDFs, Adobe’s own Acrobat Reader is perfect for these tasks. From signing forms to marking out changes and even writing in margins, the app works very smoothly with Apple Pencil, giving you that wonderful note-making feeling. And as it comes from the creators of PDF, Adobe, you can be assured of regular updates too.
Moleskine is a name that for many people is synonymous with beautifully crafted journals and notebooks. And the app bearing its name tries to bring the same experience to tablet screens. The app is laid out like a typical Moleskine journal and you can choose from different paper styles like ruled, squares, planner and storyboard. You can scribble and type, depending on your interests, import images and even store away images and text on an “inner pocket” facility for later use. The basic journal is free and you can add unlimited pages to it; pay a little and you can get the more elaborately formatted Passion Journals (Traveller’s, Recipe, and Wine are currently available). Perhaps the most elegant solution for those who want simple note-taking at its best.
This is for the professional note makers, really. Notability comes loaded with a number of features. You can scribble with your Apple Pencil, type using the keyboard, and even throw in audio notes and link them to what you have written—the app will play the audio when you tap that text, so if you have a thought while writing, you can actually speak it out aloud and record it and then hear it again the next time you are at the same part of the text. The app has everything a note-taking fanatic would want, including writing and drawing tools—you can rotate or enlarge a sketch if you want. Yes, it comes with a price tag, but this is a note-taker’s dream.
Writing by hand has one pitfall, that others might not be able to read what you have written. For those who like writing by hand, MyScript Nebo is the perfect app. The app converts your scribbled notes into text and you have the option of saving the text in its handwritten or printed form. You can also insert images, diagrams, make sketches and add mathematical formulas. But its biggest asset is its near magical handwriting recognition, as well as some wonderfully intuitive gestures. For instance, running your Apple Pencil across a word deletes it.
Yes, the grand-daddy of all the word processors out there remains mainly keyboard-driven, but scratch the surface of the app, and there is an option to write, draw and make notes too. You can use it to make notes on the margins and even sketch. The perfect app for those editors who still love making marks on copy—definitely a whole lot clearer than having the software mark revisions. The basic app is free but you will need an Office365 subscription (Rs360 per month onwards) to unlock the editing and notation capabilities.