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Apple Scribble will let you write in text fields on your iPad instead of typing

Scribble will recognize your handwriting in text fields.

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- 01:24
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A demonstration of Scribble for iPad. 

Apple/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET
This story is part of WWDC 2021. All the latest coverage from Apple's annual developers conference.

A new feature for iPadOS 14 will let those using an Apple Pencil hand write into text fields on iPads, Apple executives said Monday at WWDC.

Scribble essentially converts handwriting, making it possible to, for example, write something into a search box or create a reminder, instead of typing it out. 

In a digital WWDC session on Tuesday, Apple engineers Daniel Gobera and Evan Long gave more details about how the new feature would work for users and developers with iPad OS 14, coming this fall. 

To use Scribble, you don't need to tap the pencil in the text field -- instead, you just start writing. The engineers demonstrated how Scribble works by writing "coffee" in the Apple Maps search bar, which converted to typed text. 

"The position of the pencil tells the system where text should get inserted," Gobera explained during the session. 

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Scribble translates words written with the Apple Pencil into text.

Apple/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

Scribble is smart enough to recognize the user pausing before generating a result in a search, Gobera said -- it won't start searching until you're finished writing the word or phrase. The feature will support English, traditional and simplified Chinese, and Cantonese. 

Developers wanting to integrate Scribble into their apps will need to adopt the new UIScribbleInteraction and UIIndirectScribbleInteraction APIs, Long said. 

During Monday's WWDC keynote, Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, talked about making handwriting as powerful as typed text. 

"Our customers tell us that once they have an Apple Pencil in their hand, they don't want to put it away," Federighi said. 

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