Nebo 2.8 lets you write with a passive pen or stylus

MyScript NeboJust now·3 min read

For technical reasons, most note-taking apps work best with active pens like Apple Pencil. In fact, an active pen is typically the default choice of any serious digital note-taker.

Active pens relay detailed information about line, angle and pressure with each stroke you make. This enables them to register inputs more precisely, which makes for more accurate recognition — especially when you support write-to-text conversion in 66 languages, as Nebo does.

But we know that not everyone has access to, or wants to use, an active pen. Moreover, active pens have one weakness, however minor: they can run out of power. No one wants to be unable to take notes in a vital meeting or lecture because their pen has died.

With Nebo 2.8, we’re solving these issues by adding support for a broader range of writing inputs. Nebo now lets you handwrite and draw using any passive pen or stylus.

What does this mean for active pen users?

An active pen is still the best way to enjoy Nebo. But from version 2.8, you can switch to using a passive pen by disabling active pen input via the Page or Settings menus. If at any time you start writing with an active pen, Nebo will automatically recognize it as your preferred input and switch to it seamlessly.

Using a passive pen

When you write with a passive pen, it’s difficult for any device or app to make a distinction between pen and finger inputs. This is why we’re introducing a new interaction tool for anyone using the app without an active pen.

The interaction tool provides a crystal-clear way of telling Nebo you’re done writing with your passive pen — even if only for a few moments. Enable the interaction tool and you can use your finger or passive pen for touch interactions, like converting writing to text or moving around the page. When writing with a passive pen on iPad, you can also use two-finger gestures in place of many of the one-finger gestures available when writing with an active pen, like scrolling and selecting text.

The palm problem

Another huge challenge is palm rejection: when you write by hand, your palm and fingers frequently and unintentionally touch the writing surface. With an active pen, it’s easier for an app or device to distinguish between deliberate pen strokes and accidental hand contact. With a passive pen, not so much!

Fortunately, our development team relishes a challenge. They created a custom palm-rejection algorithm that ensures a natural and efficient experience when using a passive pen with Nebo for iPad.

Nebo for everyone

Although an active pen will always provide the best possible Nebo experience, we’re happy that we can now offer support for passive pens to our users. It’s a milestone on the road to making the productivity-boosting power of Nebo available to everyone.

As ever, we hope you enjoy the update — and don’t hesitate to let us know your thoughts.

The Nebo team at MyScript

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