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I actually have a few pain points with scribble...

  • Enter key is on the scribble helper bar, but that’s about as inconvenient and slow as reaching from keyboard to mouse... If the only way to hit enter was to move my entire hand away from my keyboard, I’d probably kill myself. Is there a symbol I can draw to “hit enter” with?
  • I often like to type on the big keyboard using the pencil, however when scribble is enabled, once you use the pencil to select an input field, that actually types a comma or dash into the input field while hiding the keyboard, which is incredibly aggravating if I was intending to start typing. I wish there were a way to configure behaviors like this, as I’d rather not entirely turn scribble off yet.

I think a lot of these are simply growing pains associated with a new world of UX that something like scribble opens up for interaction with a tablet. It’s really hard to adjust the brain from slamming fingers on identically shaped keys into effectively coordinating sequences of positioned fingertip and stylus taps and drags...

As a fast typist (top out at around 120wpm) it’s sad to me that handwriting recognition will never catch up to my own typing speed. Oh well. Sad that this new technology is doomed from the start for me.

I think there are some problems that seemingly lack any practical answers whatsoever. For example, say you mess up slightly and end up with two consecutive commas. You’re basically completely hosed in scribble at this point because the size of a comma is so small that even the very precise pencil makes it impossible to scratch it out properly. It’s impossible to make very small edits. The only thing you can do is hope the word you need to take out alongside the mistaken punctuation isn’t too big of a word.

Also problematic is the ambiguity between selecting a position in text to place the cursor and an actual desire to enter a period. If I tap after a word somewhere in hopes of adding a period after it, well, it’s literally impossible to do, as a dot will position the cursor, rather than enter a period. You can enter periods easily if you do it quickly after writing a word, but your deity of choice help you if you don’t do it in time, no positioned period for you. A lone comma can be written by exaggerating the shape of a comma in the free space in the input field.

It seems that there is just no way to reconcile the mere fact that punctuation is physically small with the WYSIWYG functionality; I can imagine some unique new ways to write them but they wouldn’t be easy to remember. It does seem to me like if we could get dedicated symbols to hand write for new line and for period, and possibly a few others such as delete the last word, we can paper over a lot of these deficiencies.

One more thing... Suppose you've got an input field (e.g. in this stack exchange question text area field) and it is very filled up with prose. You must begin your handwriting from within the bounds of the input field. You must take care not to write over existing prose (as that would simply scribble them and delete that text). Yes you can enter several line breaks using the hard-to-reach enter button to make space for yourself to do your writing in the text area so as not to accidentally write over and scribble your text, but this strikes me as overly convoluted.

It seems that if the handwriting recognition could simply be extended to scribble recognition (which sounds far easier technically than even mediocre handwriting recognition, indeed it can figure out by itself if it’s English or Chinese), this last issue should not be a problem: only delete scribbled text if the scribble is an actual scribble...

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  • Did you ever find any solutions or workarounds? - I'm in a very similar boat as you and every time I get the inspiration to try scribble, I find it too limiting, slow, clunky and missing basic things like some kind of gesture of next line, or an easy way to delete a single character.
    – Hackeron
    Commented May 29, 2022 at 20:58
  • It's a good feature but really rough around the edges. I basically put a blog post as a stackexchange question here. It's got 4k views, which is not that little but also not that many. I think most users (and apple themselves) are pretty well aware at this point that the feature is perhaps not quite ready for prime-time. I do believe that once solutions to these issues (and others I've likely overlooked) can be found and implemented that it will become more viable. As it is now being 5 times slower (with the potential to maybe reach 2 times slower) vs typing, it's a hard pass. Still fun though
    – Steven Lu
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 8:06

1 Answer 1

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If the leading letter (or number) of the active line you are scribbling on has at least two characters. Then tap on the first letter of the line, a hidden new line will auto generate below the current line. Just pick up the tip of your pencil and begin to scribble on this second line. Does not work if the line begins with a single letter. So for example if you started the line with "I " then a tap doesn't seem to cerate a newline on the line below. Also if you are enumerating the lines, be sure to add a period, like "1." and tap on the "1" and the new line will generate below. You won't see a new line there, until you tap on that line and begin to scribble...

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  • Thanks for the comment, I don't think i was aware you can insert newlines like this, so i see this tip does help to address around 3% of the gripes that I have with Scribble. I think Scribble is pretty much dead though, I think I can see it useful as some kind of "accessibility" feature, however it's a bit difficult to imagine someone with a condition that impairs their ability to type but still allows for effectively wielding a stylus. I'll ask my mom if she uses it, since i can see it being useful for using computers by writing chinese if one hasn't learned how or prefers not to type it.
    – Steven Lu
    Commented Jan 8 at 8:32

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