FileMaker text fields and iPad scribble

Does the iPad ‘scribble’ functionality work with Filemaker’s text fields?

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Yes it does.

Here is the link to the iPad feature for those who are curious: Enter text with Scribble on iPad - Apple Support

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Worth mentioning (from the link above):

Note: Scribble is available for US English and Traditional and Simplified Chinese.

edit: @Torsten mentions upcoming changes further in this very thread.

Seems Apple did not work too much on scribble, only supporting two locations. Good to know before buying a pen :shushing_face:.

Thank you @Bobino & @planteg,
Good that you hinted at language support. The lack of local language support is a serious limitation for a handwriting recognition. I wonder which languages Apple may add in the near future. Haven’t found any information about that.

@planteg languages <> locations.

Chinese and English are 2 of the top 3 languages on the planet (looking only at native speakers), accounting for nearly 17% of the world population. They are also the top 2 languages when adding second language speakers.

Other languages from the top 10 by native speakers have fast declining coverage in terms of population with added complexity (I can assume that getting this to work for Japanese is going to be more complicated than the English implementation, in a non-linear fashion, RTL support must also be somewhat challenging). See The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World for visual samples (even if the listing is slightly different from the one on Wikipedia.)

So I would be more willing to say that Apple's work is "targeted" or "focused", but I would shy away from saying they "did not work too much", as this wording makes the implementation sound more trivial than I would expect it to be. I also do not know if it is their own work or if it licenses another technology, where licensing could bring its own limitations.

I know there are other players who cover a lot more languages. That said, it seems Apple chose to deal with some limitations, like the following:

Scribble converts your handwriting to text directly on your iPad, so your writing stays private.

Perhaps you could point me to a platform that has implemented handwriting recognition for a larger percentage of the world population, and where everything required to achieve this is onboard the device itself?

But as you point out, for people who want to use that feature in their own language, knowing the supported languages is a good thing.

I guess (to be tested) that if you use the feature in your own language (let's assume French for this example), you could enter an English word and from there you would need to rely on auto-correct to fix anything faulty.

It could be best to keep that use case to apps where you really need it, like note-taking. The Nebo app seems a good one for this, and will let you use your pen for any of the languages they support.

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Thanks Bobino for this information.

I understand that hand recognition is easier for English than for French, or in fact any language with accented characters. On top of that, Chinese and Japan are far more complicated.

How nice it would to have scribble available for more languages: using an iPad for FMGO would be much more pleasant because you wouldn't need to have the keyboard popup and way each time you need to type something in a field. Can it be different for an iPad vs an iPad Pro ?

I checked on Windows, for the Surface tablets, what is available and found this Languages supported for ink-to-text conversion (

ink-to-text is the technologie used in Windows Office. As one can see, a lot of languages are supported. I have seen a demonstration in Excel that was amazing.

Maybe these capabilities will come to an iPad near you in the future. The Nebo app is quite interesting though !

@planteg This link, as well as this other one, leads me to believe:

  • MS "ink to text conversion" is not happening as you write, you need to summon the conversion process with an additional command.
  • The feature is not specifically a Windows or Surface exclusive feature, it is available on both Windows and iOS, to Microsoft 365 Subscribers only ("Ink to Math" being only available on Windows for members who are Microsoft 365 Subscribers).
  • Did I say: This is a subscriber-only, Microsoft 365 feature. Not available to Windows Office under the one-time purchase product that exists.
  • As such, I cannot confirm, but it seems to be limited to a few apps (the apps tied to your 365 subscription perhaps), not the whole OS (seems to be available in MS Excel as you pointed out).
  • Also, it looks like you need to change your account privacy options for the feature to work, leading me to believe your handwriting leaves your device for the character recognition to be performed elsewhere, returning you the result afterwards (likely to require an internet connection).

I'm all for comparisons, provided people are given accurate information. It is too easy to point to something else, obeying a completely different set of constraints and to start applying labels that say one is amazing while the other did not receive much effort. I would be curious if you could let me know how "Ink to text conversion" performs if you take your surface, put it offline, tighten your privacy settings and give it a go in notepad or your browser's address bar.

If we are to compare hardware, since we are throwing MS Surface in the mix, it cannot run FMGo, so you need to run FMPro on that device (with price considerations depending on if you need to connect to FMServer or not), with whatever the OS will offer you in terms of virtual keyboard if you do not rely on a physical one (I do not have a Surface to test this with). In that respect, iPads and Surface alike now have options for physical keyboards, pens and pointers (mouse/trackpad). Someone can use FMGo on an iPad with a physical keyboard and a trackpad. Unfortunately, FMGo seems not to implement hover effects that are now supported elsewhere in iOS. But I would agree with you, using FMPro on a MS Surface would feel much better if Microsoft "made the effort" to make it available at the OS level for any text input, while offline ideally :wink:.

Hum, I can't tell, I don't have a Surface product. This is something I am thinking about when I will replace my 8 years old Dell portable computer. I didn't know ink-to-text would need to be performed outside the tablet in use. I have seen a demonstration inside Excel that was very fast, can't recall where I found it unfortunately :worried:.

In fact ink-to-text seems to be available only to specific applications.

To sum up, looks like handwriting recognition is not yet mainstream. If i am right, when Siri was first introduced, the speech was done on Apple computers - I mean outside the iPhone. But now that would be done right on the iPhone. Those A chips are more and more powerull.

Voice assistants (Siri, Cortana, Alexa, ...) are different altogether: there is one part about voice recognition, and one part about running a query (interpretation can take place) that can involve your device (lowering the volume for instance) or require an online service (weather, directions, ...). I do not know where any of them stands for voice recognition being done offline, on the device only, I guess some "favorites" could be implemented locally (like volume controls mentioned above), but I doubt the recognition could extend to the whole language.

Text recognition (handwritten or OCR) has a single possible output: the text that has been recognized (faulty or not). Once it has been recognized, it is just text as if you had typed it with your keyboard. It can be part of a document, or act as a command (searchbox input, etc.). There is no interpretation other than the text itself, whatever you push it into will then interpret, if applicable.

Back in 2014 and earlier Apple offered the option to transfer data for voice recognition to their servers or to download and install the libraries needed for running the process locally.

Today I found an article stating that iPadOS 14.5, which will probably launch in May, will introduce Scribble support for French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. This could be a valuable addition to many people's workflows.


That's good news :sunglasses:.

Thanks for telling.

@Bobino I found out something about Microsoft 365 - at least in PowerPoint. I have a Microsoft 365 subscription, so I installed Excel, Word and PowerPoint on my iPad.

The other day I open PowerPoint to see how it works on iPadOS. I fount out that it does handwriting recognition. That does not work full time, if I may so. To use that function, write something on the screen - even with your finger - pick handwriting recognition, select with lasso and there you go ! PowerPoint can also transform figures like a sketched circle to a real circle figure.
@Torsten Apple talked about iPadOS 14.5 during yesterday event. I expect t soon.

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@planteg Thanks for the follow-up that let us appreciate the differences in the user experience on both environments.