Whether it's used in a classroom, boardroom or family room, many iPad users have discovered the touchscreen tablet can be an effective tool for jotting down notes, sketching images and fleshing out ideas.
While many offer the same core features, a new note-taking app called PhatPad includes handwriting recognition technology that can transcribe your "chicken scratch" into digital text.
And it works well, too. On the blank canvas, simply tap the pencil icon, use your fingertip or stylus pen to print on the screen. And it supports cursive writing, too. When you're done you can highlight the text and select "Convert to Text." Within a second or so you'll see the words as text, which you can then send as an e-mail, archive, export to PDF, print or send to a cloud service (such as Google Docs, Dropbox or Evernote).
Once your words are displayed as text, you'll see lined yellow "paper" at the bottom of the screen to add or edit your text with more handwriting. If you make a mistake while handwriting you can tap the "undo" button or enable an "erase" gesture from the options menu. It took me awhile to find out how to pull up a virtual keyboard as it's not on by default, but I found it helped edit converted text faster than handwriting. Or you can use the keyboard with this app instead of handwriting altogether, of course.
Other features found in PhatPad include: multiple pen colours, tip widths and opaqueness options (ideal for drawing); the ability to import photos or text from other sources; shortcuts that can help you draw shapes (circles, squares, triangles) or organize content into grids; and a voice memo recording feature that lets you add audio to any note you create.
The app also has a presentation mode, so you can record actions — such as drawing a million-dollar idea and explaining what you're doing verbally — and then share later on.
Once connected to a computer via USB cable, you can also drag and drop notes to and from the iPad inside of iTunes. Notes are automatically saved as PDF files. There is no support for iCloud at this time, but there are the aforementioned services and you can also share via Wi-Fi to compatible devices in the same wireless network.
All your notes are organized well inside the app, listed alphabetically or by date, plus you can search for keywords using the small window.
While $5 is a bit pricey for a note-taking app, PhatPad is an ideal purchase for those who still like to write instead of type, as it successfully fuses the old "paper and pen" experience with the digital age.