For several years Livescribe have been innovating with “Smartpens” that allow you to use a special paper to make notes and record audio all to be digitised and reviewed on your PC. Over the years the advances in technology have led to direct WiFi access from the smartpen – yet something has always been lacking. Today, Livescribe announce their latest Smartpen which connects directly to your iPhone or iPad.
There’s always been something awesome about the Livescribe pen. The fact it could record audio and digitise your notes, the fact you could see your notes on the screen, and with WiFi the ability to synchronise everything without plugging it in. All fantastic – but in 2013, Livescribe breaks with tradition and has removed all the audio recording capabilities from the phone, along with the mini screen on the side – with a view to bringing you something very different.
Livescribe 3 uses the very latest Bluetooth technology to connect directly to your iPhone or iPad. With a simple twist of the pen, it powers up, then by doing nothing more than launching the new Livescribe+ application your pen is paired. And it’s that easy from the very first use.
I had my Livescribe 3 out of the box and showing my notes on the screen of my iPad within 5 minutes of beginning to unpack it.
The theory with this smartpen is that we carry around our iPad or iPhone almost all the time, so why not move some of the functionality from the pen into your device – it’s capable already. So the pen becomes a little more simple – it’s still a big bulky thing, yet somehow more pen-like.
Without your tablet or smartphone, the Livescribe 3 is a great pen, but also will record and digitise your notes when using the Livescribe dot paper. When you turn on your device and fire up the app, if the pen is on, all your notes are immediately synchronised for you to view on the screen.
Handwriting recognition is built-in, as is a “feed” view which allows you to look quickly through your lines and lines of writing – you can even search it.
Now my handwriting was described by my year 3 teacher at Humpybong State School in Queensland as “like a spider with ink on every leg”, and it hasn’t improved since. I was impressed with just how well the Livescribe notes were detecting my words.
There is all the popular features from previous years including Evernote integration, however it seems Livescribe have moved away from Evernote directly and more toward the Apple iCloud option – putting their eggs in the affluent buyers and largest market segment at this stage.
Android will come, no doubt, but for now the relationship with Apple means they are able to stock the devices in Apple Stores which is a big win for Livescribe.
If you want to record audio, no more pen recordings, instead you need your iPad or iPhone alongside you, with the app fired up, and the recording is initiated from the pen, but simply uses the microphone in your iPad or iPhone to actually do the recording.
When the app is running alongside you, you can actually see your notes appear on the screen in next to real-time, it’s quite mind-blowing to see.
Overall this is yet another groundbreaking step forward. The idea of a smartpen still lacks mainstream traction, but for people in business, people who are studying and for those who take large amounts of notes, it really is hard to look past Livescribe smartpens.
At $199, or $265 if you want the leather portfolio and 100page booklet the price is right for Livescribe 3.