Lenovo's AnyPen on Android Writes with a Screw Driver

BARCELONA -- Your next tablet could let you write any place on the screen with any object you have handy. Lenovo has already released a Windows tablet with AnyPen. At Mobile World Congress, the leading PC vendor also showed off an Android slate with technology, which lets you draw on screen with any metal or graphite object (pencils, pens, screw drivers). When combined with the company's WriteIt software, AnyPen on Android provides a compelling option for filling out digital forms.

As I watched, Lenovo's Cassidy Lammers demoed a Yoga Tablet 2 with Android that had AnyPen built into its screen. She grabbed a No. 2 pencil and pointed out at the Google search field, writing the word "cats" onto the screen. Not only did the screen avoid getting scratched by the pencil, but it also immediately registered the strokes, converted them to the ASCII text cat and inserted them into the text box.

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Traditionally, if you want to write with a pen, Windows and Android only allow you to scribble into a handwriting recognition keyboard at the bottom of the screen. However, Lenovo's WriteIt application lets you handwrite text directly on top of any input fields and watch as the operating system either translates it directly into ASCII text or, if the letters are unclear, offers suggested words to choose from.

WriteIt is already available for download in beta form for Windows, but the version Lammers showed us was running on Android. On both platforms, Lenovo's software is solving a serious usability problem that Microsoft and Google should addressed at the operating system level a long time ago. In the meantime, being able to scribble directly into text fields without having a keyboard eat up the bottom of your display is a huge advantage. 

Lammers said Lenovo has not announced plans to bring AnyPen or WriteIt to its Android devices, but the experience we witnessed looked ready for prime time.

Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.