Android Handwriting and Stylus Apps
These apps allow you to write with your finger or with a stylus.
App developers sometimes add or change or remove features, so there might be some differences between my descriptions (below) and the current versions of some apps.
Google Gesture Search
by Google Inc. (free) - I have hundreds of apps on my phone. Instead of swiping through my home screens or my app drawer looking for an app, I can simply open Gesture Search and draw one or two letters in the app's name. All of the app names which contain these letters will be displayed, and then I simply tap the app that I want to open. I can also search for contacts, browser bookmarks, music, and phone settings by drawing one or more letters in their names.
Google Handwriting Input
by Google Inc. (free) - A "keyboard" which allows you to write by hand (with a finger or a stylus), in cursive or in printing. Does a very good job of interpreting handwriting, even fairly sloppy handwriting. Above the "keyboard" is the predictions bar, which displays three interpretations of what you wrote. If one of these interpretations has an underline character in front of it, this indicates that a space will be inserted before the word. Long-press the word in the middle of the predictions bar to see more interpretations. At the bottom of the screen, the "left arrow" icon will erase the most recent stroke, which means it will erase the entire word if you wrote the word in cursive. The "cloud" icon (if it's visible) allows you to turn on or off the online recognition feature, which sends your data to Google to improve the handwriting recognition. Long-press the "globe" icon to open the Settings menu. The spacebar inserts a space between words, although a space will usually be placed automatically between words. Long-press the spacebar to select a different keyboard. The "X" icon is the backspace key. The "enter" icon will add a carriage return, and if you long-press it then three emoji will appear (a coffee cup, a smiley, and some stars). You're now in "emoji" mode, and you can draw your own emoji which will allow you to select a similar emoji icon. After you draw an emoji, long-press the emoji in the middle of the predictions bar to see more options.
INKredible - Handwriting Note
by WriteOn (free) - After trying numerous handwriting apps, this is my favorite. It's essentially a word processor for hand-written notes, and it contains far more features than any other handwriting app that I've found.
In addition to various pen styles and sizes and colors, and various eraser options, and a highlighter, there are also numerous paper options such as graph paper and calligraphy paper and music staffs and so on. Pages can be organized into notebooks and can be shared with other people.
Handwritten text can be selected with the selection tool, then it can be dragged to a different location on the page (such as for organizing a to-do list). Selected text can also be deleted, copied, rotated, and changed to a different color or size.
Pictures can be imported, and there are a number of built-in shapes that can be added to the page.
The toolbar is displayed vertically down the left side of the screen, and it can auto-hide itself. To go to the next or previous page, drag up or down on the right side of the screen.
JusWrite Stylus Task Organizer
by Plackal Tech (free) - A to-do list app. Tap the "plus sign" in the top right corner of the screen to add a new task. While you're adding a new task, tap the "X" icon to cancel the task, or tap the "checkmark" icon to save the task, or tap the "solid eraser" icon to erase the entire task, or tap the "half eraser" icon to erase pixels (by dragging your finger or stylus), or tap the "curved arrow" icons to do an undo or redo, or tap one of the "thickness" icons to change the thickness of the ink, or tap one of the colors to change the ink color. In the list of items, tap a task to add notes (sub-tasks) for the task (for each note, tap the gray "clock" icon to set a date/time to be reminded about the note). In the list of tasks or the list of notes, drag the blue "up and down arrows" icon to move a task or note to a different position in the list.
by MyScript (free) - Use your finger or stylus to write an equation (e.g. "1+(2x3)"), and the answer will be calculated automatically. In the Settings you can change the behavior so that the calculation won't take place until you tap the "Calculate" button. Before you enter a new equation, tap the "trashcan" icon to erase the previous equation (otherwise the app will assume that the previous equation is intended to be used as exponents in the current equation).
MyScript Stylus (Beta)
by MyScript (free) - This a handwriting keyboard. Spaces will automatically be inserted when you pause after writing a word. The Welcome Guide describes the gestures you can use for correcting your text.
S Pen Launcher
by Steadfast Innovation, LLC (free) - Allows you to specify which app to launch when you remove the S Pen from a Samsung Galaxy device.
Squid (formerly Papyrus)
by Steadfast Innovation, LLC (free) - Allows you to write notes by hand, but it doesn't do any OCR (in other words, it doesn't convert your handwriting to text). Notes can be associated with notebooks (to keep them organized and easy to find), or they can be unfiled notes (i.e. not associated with a notebook). On the main screen, the first icon at the top right side of the screen allows you to create a new notebook. The names of your notebooks are listed on the left side of the screen. The second icon allows you to create a new note. If one of your notebooks is highlighted on the left side of the screen then the new note will be associated with that notebook, else it will be a new unfiled note. In the paid version, the third icon allows you to write, draw, and markup on PDF files.
On the left side of the screen, tap "Recent Notes" to see thumbnails of all of your notes in the order in which they were last modified. Tap "Starred" to see thumbnails of all of your notes which have been "starred" (i.e. which have a blue star in the top right corner of the thumbnail). Tap "All Notes" to see thumbnails of all of your notes in the order in which they were created. Tap "Unfiled Notes" to see thumbnails of all of your notes which are not associated with a notebook. Tap the name of a notebook to see thumbnails of all of your notes which are associated with the notebook. On the right side of the screen, the thumbnails of your notes are displayed, and you can scroll them up or down. Tap a thumbnail to edit the note. Tap the star in the top right corner of a thumbnail to toggle it between blue and gray.
Long-press a thumbnail to select it, then you can tap the "pencil" icon at the top of the screen to edit the name of the note, or tap the "trashcan" icon at the top of the screen to delete the note. If a notebook (or "Unfiled Notes") is highlighted on the left side of the screen then you can long-press a thumbnail and drag the note to a different notebook or to "Unfiled Notes." When you're editing a note, the title of the note is displayed at the top left side of the screen (tap it to change the title). To the right of the title are a left and right arrow, which allow you to navigate to page 2, page 3, etc., in the note (the current page number is displayed between the arrows). At the bottom of the screen, the "curved arrow" icons allow you to do an undo and redo. The third icon allows you to switch to a different tool, and the current tool is displayed as the icon.
In the free version, there's a pen tool (you can change the weight of the ink), and a selection tool (which looks like a dotted circle), and an eraser (you can change the size of the eraser). The "square" icon at the bottom right corner of the screen allows you to change pen colors. With the selection tool, draw a rectangle around something you've written or drawn, and the area will be highlighted with a rectangular selection border (you can simply drag the stylus from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of the area you want selected). Drag the selection area to move it, or drag one of the handles on the selection border to stretch the selected area. At the top of the screen, the "3x3" icon allows you to change the color of the ink in the selected area. The next icon (three bars with different thicknesses) allows you to change the thickness of the ink in the selected area.
The "copy" icon copies the selected area to the Clipboard. The "clipboard" icon will paste the image. The "three dots" menu icon allows you to delete or cut or duplicate the selected area. Drag the screen with two fingers to scroll the note up, down, left, or right, essentially creating an infinite sheet of paper. Also see Write (below).
September 10, 2020 - Added INKredible. Deleted Write because it doesn't work properly in the latest version of Android.
March 10, 2019 - Added a link to "IS HANDWRITING DEAD? HARDLY. WE NEED IT MORE THAN EVER."
January 14, 2015 - Added Google Gesture Search, Google Handwriting Input, and Write.
June 29, 2014 - New page.