Microsoft OneNote gets handwriting support on the iPad, OCR everywhere

Ian Paul
23 February, 2015
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OneNote, iPad, business, macworld australiaGoogle isn’t the only company furiously adding improvements to iPad apps. Microsoft recently announced a major feature update to OneNote for Apple’s slate, adding a standard feature found on OneNote’s other platforms: digital pen support. The latest version of OneNote for iPad brings handwriting and drawing, allowing you to make sketches on your slate or just doodle during Physics 101.

All handwriting and drawing operations are kept under the Draw tab, which is available in each note. Just hit that tab and you can annotate notes, highlight text or draw over an image. Microsoft offers sixteen different pen colours for compulsive colour coders.

The iPad’s new drawing feature also has palm rejection for anyone who likes to put their palm to pad when writing or drawing. To customise this feature to your writing style, click the hand icon in the upper right corner under the Draw tab. You’ll have six choices (three each for righties and lefties) for how you hold a pen to help OneNote adapt to you.

For anyone opposed to the use of a stylus, you can also draw, highlight and annotate with your finger – although results may be a bit messier than with a pen.

If you want to scroll through a note, remember to go back to another tab such as Home or View, as the Draw tab is all about scribbling around the content currently on-screen.

Beyond handwriting for the iPad, Microsoft says optical character recognition is now available across its entire range of OneNote apps from Office Online to iOS. Just snap or scan a picture that includes some text, give Microsoft’s cloud a few minutes, come back to your image, and the text should be fully searchable.

The impact on you at home: The updates to the iPad and widening OCR to all of Microsoft’s apps makes it much easier to pick-up where you left off on the device of your choosing. That’s especially true for handwriting, which is a popular use case for Microsoft’s note-taking app. It also shows that Microsoft is serious about cross-platform development, ensuring its software works just as well on an iPad as on a Microsoft device like the Surface Pro 3 or a Lumia phone.

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