Handwriting for the Android version of Evernote has arrived

Evernote has finally released pen capability for the Android app. The Evernote desktop version for Windows had this ability when they first came and iOS users of the Evernote app have had this capability through Penultimate for a while now. However, it was only recently that Android users finally got a version of the Evernote app that would support pen capability. This was big news for me as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is my primary mobile device – it’s the device that I use the most.

Before the release of this version of Evernote, the app I would use to support me writing notes was the native S Note app from Samsung. I’ve never been big fan of apps written by manufacturers as they tend to be downright terrible. The S Note is one of the few exceptions. The S Note app is a surprisingly capable app. I would rate it as the best app on the Android for productivity apps using pens on Android. The S Note works very similarly like One Note; it flows like a notebook where you can add more pages as you go along. I like that you have separate page template types although realistically speaking I only use 2 types – lined and graph. There are also a broad range of pen tools such as a huge variety of ink colours, thickness and types. The one and biggest shortcoming is the inability to synchronize to other well known services like Evernote or Springpad. This limits the use of the device only to Note 8.

The general UI for the app hasn’t changed that much. The primary difference for the interface is that when you create a note, you’ll see an extra icon there to go to handwriting mode. After you’re done writing or drawing, what you’ve just created is embedded as an image on the screen. To edit what you just wrote or drew, you click on the pen icon on the top left of the screen or double click on the writing or drawing and it will then continue to let you edit what you were previously working on.

New button on the top right indicating new pen ability


Pen width and colour selection

The features are pretty simplistic. You have the ability to choose from 4 different colours (black, red, blue, green) and 4 different thickness of the pen. When you select the eraser, you can erase by moving your pen over what you wanted to erase or as you click on the drop down, you could clear the page. There’s a lasso feature that allows you to cut and move the image some where else. When you create a note, a canvas gets created the size of the screen. If you want to add more notes beyond the screen, you have to click on the arrow which will be replaced with a plus sign. Once you press the plus sign, a new page gets created. The handwriting capability of Evernote is an extension of the current Evernote app; it works like a note taking application instead of a notebook. This makes the notes flow continuously down. It does give you some additional flexibility because it allows you to seamlessly combine typed notes with handwritten notes. One thing I do miss from the S Note app is that you can’t use the eraser tip on the Wacom pen.

While the S Note is a much richer app, the inability to synchronize data makes it significantly less attractive to use. Hopefully with handwriting ability now native to the Android app, synchronizing to notes from S Note to and from Evernote will be coming shortly. For now though, it looks like I’ll be moving to Evernote for the time being.