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Livescribe's latest smartpen draws heavily on iOS

Philip Michaels | Oct. 29, 2013
The Livescribe 3 smartpen captures your notes as you jot them down, syncing them with a companion app for the iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone.

That rubber cap happens to be one of a number of clever design features built into the Livescribe 3: The cap doubles as a capacitive stylus that you can use with your mobile device. Don't expect to do the kind of elaborate sketching you'd produce with a dedicated mobile stylus, but for tapping your iPhone or iPad screening, it should do the trick. A series of LED lights on LightScribe 3--green when the pen is turned on, blue when it's connected via Bluetooth, red if you're recording audio to store on the pen--keep you apprised of any status alerts. There's even a Find My Pen function where the Livescribe 3 lets out a little beep to help you locate it on your desk or in your travel bag.

Take note
It's the Livescribe+ app, though, that really adds value to the new pen. Available on iOS 7 for the iPhone 4s and later, third-generation iPad and later, and fifth-generation iPod touch, Livescribe+ records the handwritten notes as you jot them down on paper, saving you the need to transcribe your scribbles into digital form later. It's not a completely instantaneous process--in my demo time with the Livescribe 3, there were a few noticeable seconds of lag time between when I wrote something down on a Dot Paper notebook and when it appeared on an iPad. But really, for the purpose of getting your notes from a piece of paper to your mobile device, the app performs well from what I can see. (You don't need to have your iPad with you when you're writing down notes; you can also sync up what you've written down later. The Livescribe 3 holds up to 2GB of notes--that translates to roughly 20,000 pages, Livescribe says. And if you're in a meeting that requires 20,000 pages of notes in a single sitting, you've got bigger problems than not having your iPad or iPhone handy for syncing.)

The Livescribe+ app can display notes in your handwriting; you can also convert that into digital text. The app's Feed view cuts up notes into blocks of writing; flipping one of those boxes over converts it into digital text, which you can then edit to your heart's content. Once your notes are in digital format, you can use them to create reminders, contacts, and calendar appointments or copy and paste into other apps. Livescribe+ also recognizes phone numbers and URLs, so tapping on those will either initiate a phone call or launch a webpage.

"There's multiple ways to do everything, so you can find the way that suits you," Rodrigues says.

The app also lets you organize notes by tagging them, highlighting them as favorites, or flagging them. It's a simple matter of tapping on the appropriate Tag, Favorite, or Flag icon on Livescribe's Dot Paper notebook, and the corresponding note will be categorized in the Livescribe+ app.


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