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Summary:

iPad owners have wanted a good inking solution for the iPad, but the capacitive digitizer isn’t designed for writing on the screen, as it will misinterpret strokes caused by the hand resting on the display. Penultimate now has palm rejection, the first such feature on the iPad.

Penultimate thumb

Tablet lovers have been crying for a good inking solution for the iPad since its release. The capacitive digitizer isn’t designed for writing on the screen, but that doesn’t stop those who prefer to use ink for note-taking. There are already apps that provide inking, and third party pens that make it easier to do than by using the fingertip to write. What has been missing from the mix until now is the ability for inking apps to ignore the hand resting on the screen while writing. The palm (or wrist) sitting on the big iPad screen interferes with the writing process, as it is interpreted as a desire to write when the hand hits the screen. Ink note-taking app Penultimate was updated with a “wrist protection” setting, and it works pretty darn well. I believe this is the first app on the iPad with palm rejection.

Penultimate uses a notebook metaphor for handling the taking of notes, and is designed to be used totally by writing on the page. I have used it for weeks, and while it works pretty well the vectoring caused by resting my hand on the screen rendered it pretty useless. I don’t have a pen that works on a capacitive digitizer, either, and that has restricted my use of the app. I’ll have to look at getting one though, as this new setting is working well in my initial tests.

Once the “wrist protection” setting is turned on, the app totally ignores everything but the actual writing taking place. I have yet to trigger an unwanted vector, and that is pretty impressive. As always with inking apps, YMMV.

Thanks to my Twitter peeps for pointing me to the update.

Related content on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Can Anyone Compete With the iPad?

  1. Unfortunately it doesn’t work for us lefties. It’s sooooooo close to being truly useful though.

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    1. Interesting. Have you actually tried it? I’m curious how it’s working to detect that.

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      1. Yes…I actually tried writing both left handed and right handed. Right handed I had no trouble (other than the normal issue of not being right handed). As a lefty…I also tend to write a little more “upside down” (watch President Obama write for an understanding of that) and it just really wouldn’t work at all. Although writing more “normally” lefthanded caused the same problem. From a programming point of view it is probably harder to remove previous scribbles AND the wrist pressure than just wrist pressure and a blank area.

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  2. If you do end up getting a pen for the ipad I am interested to hear about which one you picked and why. I have been interested in one as well and would love to hear an opinion from you before buying.

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  3. I’m left-handed and based on my limited testing I think Bryan is right. I tried it out last night and while it worked better than before, I did get some vectoring even with the “wrist protection” turned on. Not sure why this would be so — I’ll have to give it another try today.

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  4. Ok, now I’m impressed!

    I wasn’t expected to get vector free writing on an iPad. Not at all. So to me this is a big step.

    Now, not to rain on any parades, but we still need to see concepts like handwriting recognition and all that other good stuff. But still, eliminating vectoring? I just did not think I would see that at all. Wow. Penultimate needs to link up with Evernote… FAST.

    I have seen some vectoring (very very little) and I did bump into a new page accidentally, but that’s very minor, all things considered.

    Now I have to find a good capacitive stylus. I have one right now, but it’s not ideal.

    Ok…. let the games begin. I want OneNote on my iPad. No… I NEED ONENOTE functionality on my iPad. 1.5 lbs, 9 hrs. with 3G, $30 unlimited data with no vectoring? This thing is an executives dream if they can more OneNote style functionality.

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  5. I’m using the Pogo Sketch stylus. Other than wishing it had a smaller tip, it works well. I’m also impressed with Ten One Design’s customer service (maker of Pogo)

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  6. @SteveNYC

    PhatNotes and WritePad have handwriting recognition.

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  7. I installed the update yesterday and works pretty good. A lot better than before. I have been using the Penultimate app since it was available at the app store. I use it daily for my work stuff to take notes. Like many have mentioned, it would be nice to have a option to change the pen thickness. Maybe in the future upgrades. Here is a video I made of Penultimate.

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  8. I would love to know if there are any pens with a small tip than can write on a capacitive screen. The tip on the pogo pen is too clumsy. Any ideas?

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    1. I haven’t found one with a smaller tip. I know that the tip has to be a bit big for a capacitive touch screen to be able to recognize the touch. If it’s too small it might not work. Maybe in the next update they will provide smaller ink thickness.

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  9. I’ve tried Penultimate before. It already had palm rejection, but as expected, it’s rather crude.

    You had to put the capacitive stylus down first, then your palm. You can then write, but if you have to move your palm, it could vector and think that’s where the stylus is when it isn’t.

    The only way to really get around this would be a glove that insulates the palm. The SmudgeGuard ones are the right shape, but sadly, they don’t insulate enough.

    Anyway, it’s just too much hassle to ink properly on a device not made for it. US$500 easily buys a used Tablet PC with a Wacom pen where you don’t have to worry about palm rejection.

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  10. This update works really well. Penultimate is coming close to being a killer inking app. It needs inks of different colors and thickness, the ability to select/cut/paste ink, maybe some HWR. Good job so far. I am glad I got it.

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