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FastFinga breaks my resolve – ink blogging for iPhone and iPad

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FastFingaJezlynI had one rock solid reason to not want the iPad. One. No inking. More accurately, poor inking due to the lack of an active digitizer. Drawing and writing on the iPhone is possible via finger or a capacitive stylus, like the Pogo, but it always results in a sub-par experience for me. Well, judging from this sample from Jezlyn at Late to the Party, it’s not the inking on the iPhone that sucks – it’s me.

As many of your know, Jezlyn is a key supporter of my pet cause, ink blogging, which remains a semi-regular element of her blogging activities, and she’s done several experiments with it on different devices.

This time, she’s testing FastFinga, an iPhone app designed for taking handwritten notes, along with her Pogo Sketch, a full-sized pen version of the Pogo. The results are amazing. A tad lower than I’ve seen of her work with an active digitizer but much smoother than when she’s used a resistive touchscreen. If she’d posted that alone, I wouldn’t have known it was from an iPhone.

She’s posted an excellent how-to on the app with good background information. FastFinga has several export options, including Twitter, Evernote (which can read handwriting for search) and email that can make it a really good ink blogging app.

FastFinga_20100204090815-748349I downloaded it this morning, scratched out an entry with my short Pogo, and emailed it to my mobile blog. The result, as you can see, is a real piece of crap compared to Jezlyn’s, though her handwriting has always been better than mine, and much worse than my usual digital handwriting. Part of that is due to the short stylus but also because I can’t rest my palm on the screen. If I am to make this a part of my inking arsenal, I’ll need to look seriously at getting the Pogo Sketch and wearing a fingerless glove to avoid palm contact.

And yes, I am compelled, as the world’s foremost ink blogger, to pursue this option further, definitely on my iPhone and possibly on the iPad. Yeah, I know I said I wouldn’t get one, but that was when I thought the inking experience would suck. Looking at Jezlyn’s ink entry from an iPhone, there’s a good chance I will have to eat those words. Or as I’ve told Tablet PC doubters in the past, the device doesn’t suck, I do.

The system has a couple of limits, such as lack of handwriting conversion (I presume Jezlyn did her conversion manually) and lack of hyperlinks, a.k.a. Links in Ink, but those aren’t done automatically in my ink blogging method either (though maybe that will change if this app takes off). As a means of quick simple ink blogging and sending handwritten notes to Evernote, FastFinga appears to get the job done.

Update  (2/6/10): FastFinga was just updated but not without problems. From their website:

Important notice about v2.0 updater: If your documents contain several images, the updating process may fail. Please do not delete the application even if the updating failed. The fixed version 2.0.1 is under review process by Apple. Your existing docs will be able to import in v2.0.1.

We just found today (2/6/10) that it’s been pulled from the App Store, presumably until the flaw is fixed.

Alleged Apple fanboi, accused Android apologist, and confirmed Microsoft MVP for touch and tablet Mark Sumimoto a.k.a. Sumocat dabbles in all areas of mobile computing with a focus on Windows-based Tablet PCs and pen input. A mobile computing enthusiast since 2004, he pioneered the field of ink blogging via his personal blog, Sumocat's Scribbles. His current tools include a Fujitsu Lifebook T900, TEGA v2, and iPhone 4. Email: sumocat [at] notebooks.com

14 Comments

  1. JOE H

    02/04/2010 at 9:50 am

    Curse you Sumocat for undermining one of my main reasons for disdaining the iPad – I won’t buy a non-inking tablet either. You and your providing news and insight.

    Seriously, I may need to check this out. What’s the net cost of pogo sketch + software?

  2. ChrisRS

    02/04/2010 at 10:01 am

    This looks like a work around to me. I th9ink I would wait for iPad V2 and see if they add inking. If not, by then there will be many options available. (There may be good inking options before iPad hits the market.)

  3. Sumocat

    02/04/2010 at 10:17 am

    JOE H: I’m pinning this on Jezlyn. She researched a few options before finding this one. All I did was read her blog. As for cost, the app is $.99 and the Pogo Sketch is $14.95 plus shipping (plus, I’d need a glove).

    ChrisRS: Yes, I’m hoping the trend of pen input on eReaders will force Apple to take action with the next version, but with results like this on capacitive touch, it might not be a priority.

  4. Irked Inker

    02/04/2010 at 12:02 pm

    /sheds a single tear for humanity in general, and for Sumocat in particular

  5. Kenrick

    02/04/2010 at 1:14 pm

    Palm contact will be a much bigger problem with the iPad, no?

  6. CLC

    02/04/2010 at 1:27 pm

    Well, then I have the glove for you!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6IzCeJH3P4

    There are similar gloves that I have seen for traditional artists to prevent smudging graphite and whatnot; but I did a quick search; and this one is for a Tablet PC. :D

  7. Sumocat

    02/04/2010 at 1:32 pm

    Irked Inker: I’m not exactly thrilled about eating my words or admitting that when it comes to inking on a capacitive touchscreen I’m the one who sucks, but it’s either that or extinction. As accustomed as I am to being the only one blogging in ink, that wasn’t the goal with my ink blog experiment.

    Kenrick: Sure will, which is where the fingerless glove comes in.

    CLC: Thanks for the link. That SmudgeGuard addresses two problems for me.

  8. Jan

    02/04/2010 at 2:27 pm

    Special pen + special glove seems a lot of for not to forget in case you wanted write something

  9. griz8791

    02/04/2010 at 3:55 pm

    Stupid question from a non-engineer: do we think Pogo only works with the iPhone/iPad screen? Any chance it might also on the Motorola Droid?

  10. Sumocat

    02/04/2010 at 4:03 pm

    griz8791: The Pogo should work with any capacitive touchscreen, including Droid. We have seen it work on the HP tx2.

  11. GoodThings2Life

    02/04/2010 at 4:42 pm

    Well I gotta give credit to the FastFinger developer(s) for this one… very impressive indeed!

  12. Jezlyn

    02/05/2010 at 3:22 am

    Thanks for the link love! :) Yes, I wonder how well I’ll be able to use FastFinga on the bigger iPad screen since there won’t be any palm rejection… It’s still encouraging that there might be some inking possible on the iPad, anyway.

    As for the Pogo Sketch, it is about $15, so with the FastFinga app, it’s a $16 outlay. Not too bad, IMO. However, keep in mind that the Pogo Sketch is not necessary to use FastFinga effectively. As the name suggests, you can jot notes with your finger. I tried it, and it works just fine.

    Also, the Pogo Sketch works on all capacitive screens, as well as the multitouch trackpads on newer MacBooks. However, I tried using it on my MacBook, and even with the Inklet software that the Pogo Sketch manufacturers have, it’s really not usable, IMO. It’s too hard to position your text on-screen since hovering is not really an option. I mean, they claim that with Inklet you can “hover” by putting the stylus down on the trackpad and moving it around to position it, then pressing down harder to actually write, but that’s easier said than done. I’ll stick to using it on my iPhone.

  13. Hos238

    02/05/2010 at 10:13 pm

    Has any one tried the Wacom Pen & Touch? My question is when can Wacom start leasing that tech for screens?

  14. ethibault

    02/06/2010 at 6:23 am

    Do you think we could have a video of you inking with the iphone ?

    I notice that the handwriting of jezlyn is close to capital letters so not as “scriptive” as a regular handwritting in my opinion.

    I think that inking on the iphone is ok if you can do it at the spur of the moment, but if you have to look for you glove and put it each time you write or wear it always people around you will look at you as a bizarre person !

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