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Testing Scribble on iPad with Apple Pencil in iPadOS 14

Scribble comes to iPad

Scribble has made the jump from Apple Watch to iPad With iPadOS 14. This massive update allows you to easily enter text anywhere on the iPad using your Apple Pencil. Here's how it works.

To use Scribble, you need your iPad on iPadOS 14 and your Apple Pencil. You can use Scribble almost anywhere, but we decided first to start with the Notes app.

When in the Notes app and creating a new note, by default the keyboard appears. We minimized the keyboard and tapped the screen with our Apple Pencil to start using it instead.

If Apple Pencil is active, you will see the Apple Pencil toolbar appear on the screen. This revamped toolbar still has your different writing utensils, as well as buttons to open the keyboard, go to Settings, and to return a line in the text document.

Toggle Scribble on or off in Apple Pencil settings
Toggle Scribble on or off in Apple Pencil settings

Note: Be sure to head to the Apple Pencil settings to ensure Scribble is enabled.

We wrote out with Apple Pencil "this is scribble" in our below-average handwriting. Despite our poor penmanship skills, the iPad was still able to detect what we wrote and convert it to the header of the note almost instantly. We then used the return button in the toolbar to go to a new line and try out another sentence.

When writing, you can tap and hold between words to enter a space between them. This is useful if Scribble accidentally combines words you didn't intend, which can happen if you write words too close together.

To get rid of something you wrote, you can just scratch it out and it disappears. To select a word — or a group of words — circle them to highlight them, then you can cut or copy as well as move them about.

Searching online with Apple Pencil using Scribble
Searching online with Apple Pencil using Scribble

This isn't limited to just Notes, as it works throughout the OS. For example, pulling down on the Home screen to open universal search brings up a search box that you can just write on top of, and it is recognized automatically. The same goes for within apps whenever there is text to fill out.

In Safari, you can fill out boxes. We used it to search for "HomeKit" on as well as entering our contact info on the Apple Store.

Scribble shortcut palette
Scribble shortcut palette

Whenever you use Scribble, you will notice the Scribble shortcut palette appear on the bottom of the display, one which differs from the large Apple Pencil toolbar found in apps like Notes. This smaller shortcut palette has undo and redo buttons, a keyboard shortcut, ellipses to get to additional settings, then some form of action button. When using universal search or search within Safari it will let you tap it to instantly run the query.

Useful, but not all the time

Scribble is a very cool new feature, one that adds a new layer of depth and usability to the iPad.

There are too many times where we get bogged down by having to switch between our Apple Pencil and the keyboard. We will be taking notes, editing a photo, or sketching and need to enter text and must change how we are using the tablet to better type on the keyboard. This fixes that issue completely.

That isn't to say it is always useful. If you are already using the keyboard or are using the Magic Keyboard, swapping to the Apple Pencil to edit text just doesn't make sense.

This does however demonstrate how the iPad is getting so much more powerful, by allowing it to adapt to exactly how you use it. Whether with a keyboard, a mouse, your finger, or the Apple Pencil, it simply works.

Scribble currently functions in English, but it is also capable of working in Chinese as well. It can even do both at the same time, allowing users to switch between the languages as they write and iPadOS distinguishes them apart as it translates the separate languages into typed text.

Apple Pencil gained many other skills with iPadOS, but we will save those for another deep dive.

Existing features