Lenovo has announced its new WRITEit software application, which improves the capabilities of pen writing on Windows 8 devices, including writing in apps that were not designed to support writing.
“In the past, some handwriting tools worked better than others, but there was no consistent cohesive way to use a pen on all the apps you use, and they tended not to work on the most popular Windows software,” said Bill Bordogna, product owner for WriteIT in Lenovo’s contextual computing group.
WRITEit works across select Lenovo Windows 8 devices with digitizer, active pen or AnyPen technology and provides real-time feedback and correction through a suggestion tool designed to catch typos by offering alternatives to unrecognized words. ThinkPad YOGA, ThinkPad Helix, ThinkPad 10 and YOGA Tablet 2 8-in with Windows are supported out of the gate, and the roadmap is to extend this to more products later this year.
“WRITEit makes writing a seamless part across all your apps,” Bordogna said. “The only exclusion is passwords. It allows a user to write in any box other than one for passwords.”
WRITEit operates in the background as users are writing and converts handwriting to text characters in real time. It works by utilizing the Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) layer, a COM interface that enables assistive technology like screen readers, magnifiers, and voice-control applications.
“We rely on the accessibility layer in Windows that developers are using to meet accessibility requirements, and we piggyback on top of that,” Bordogna said. “We can use that accessibility layer to write into apps never designed to support writing in the first place.”
Lenovo is saying the best use cases of this technology are writing search terms directly in a browser to quickly search the web instead of using the keyboard, as well as online forms, social media, emails, quick notes or dropping your signature in as an image.
What it is not designed for is more extensive note taking, such as a student taking lecture notes (or a tech writer with poor typing skills taking notes from a keynote or phone interview).
“I’m not sure the technology will ever support that degree of writing,” Bordogna said. “This is not something you would want to use to write War and Peace with.”
Right now, WRITEit only supports Windows devices, which isn’t a big deal until that day comes when Lenovo phones are available in North America.
“We are working on an Android version, but it’s nothing we can really speak about right now,” Bordogna said.
Lenovo’s channel partners will be most interested in the degree to which this will sway commercial business their way. Bordogna believes that while this won’t be a game changer app that wins business on its own, it isn’t a minor bell and whistle either.
“It gives us a way to differentiate the pen offering we have from the rest of the market,” he said. “In addition, if a customer is wavering between getting a pen model and a non-pen model, this will encourage them to take the pen, where they might not otherwise.”
Users of the supported Lenovo devices can download WRITEit for free now, at http://www.getwriteit.com.