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Amazon’s Kindle Scribe is getting limited handwriting-to-text conversion

Amazon’s Kindle Scribe is getting limited handwriting-to-text conversion


You can also finally take notes on pages, albeit only on select books and titles.

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A close-up of the Handwritten Note feature.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Finally, Amazon did it — after launching a series of minor Kindle Scribe updates in the past few months, Amazon rolled out two potentially game-changing ones. Starting today, you can now actually convert handwriting to typed text on your Kindle Scribe and write on pages.

Truth be told, the new features are very limited in their capabilities. The good news, though, is that Amazon plans on rolling out more updates throughout the year — so here’s to hoping they’ll get better.

For right now, though, you can only convert your handwriting to typed text when you export notebooks. Located in the “Share” menu, Amazon now gives users the option to select “Convert to text and quick send.” There’s also a “Convert to text and email” option, which allows you to preview and edit notebooks converted to text before sharing them with up to five email addresses.

In contrast, Kobo’s new Elipsa 2E lets you also convert your handwriting from within the notebook. And, based on my initial testing of the beta version of the new Scribe feature, it converts handwriting more accurately, too.

You can also now write directly on select pages of books, guided journals, word games, and more purchased through Amazon. Again, though, this is limited to Kindle titles with “Write-on Books” or “On-page writing” listed as a supported feature. In contrast, the Kobo Elipsa 2E lets you write on any ebook.

There are other less exciting yet still notable updates Amazon rolled out today. For example, you can now switch between portrait and landscape view modes on PDFs uploaded through the Send to Kindle feature. Other new PDF updates include the ability to crop margins, make highlights with your pen or fingers, add text notes, and look up words in the dictionary or via Wikipedia.

Finally, Amazon also added a new lasso select tool, which allows you to circle handwritten text and resize or move it within a notebook, sticky note, or PDF. You can also copy and paste the selected content across notebooks, sticky notes, and PDFs.

While the Kindle Scribe still has a long way to go — please, let us sync Kindle Scribe notes to Kindle apps on other devices, Amazon — I’m glad Amazon rolled out these updates. A few weeks ago, the Kindle Scribe couldn’t hold a candle to rivals like the Kobo Elipsa 2E and Remarkable 2. However, with today’s announcement, the future is starting to look bright for Amazon’s first note-taking e-reader.