For all the tablet and phablet innovations in the market these days, there will still be some people who love a pen and paper. But where does it say that the pen and paper need to be dumb? Meet the new Livescribe 3 smart pen: the old favourite, back with new tricks designed especially for iOS 7.
You read right: the new Livescribe 3 smart pen is designed for Apple devices. Users of the iPhone 4S and upwards, as well as users of the iPad 3 and upwards will be able to benefit from the new pen, while Android users will have to wait.
The Apple-only compatibility likely stems from a push towards using the Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy standard which, at the inception of the pen, was presumably only available on Apple devices. Google Android now supports Bluetooth Low Energy, and Livescribe is working on porting the device over.
While they wait, Apple users will now be able to use the smart pen as a bespoke iOS accessory, rather than just a clever writing tool.
Livescribe has ditched the screen, in-pen microphone and in-pen speaker on the 3 to improve battery life and weight. If you've ever used the cloud-syncing Sky Pen from Livescribe, you know it can be a tad unwieldy when taking notes. The new Livescribe pen will make the microphone, screen and speaker do the work for it when it comes to recording audio, displaying content and status notifications and playing back recordings in order to make a momentous battery saving. The only problem with that is you need to bring your tablet with you in order for this functionality — which had been considered as the cornerstone of the Livescribe experience — to work.
The benefit of taking your tablet everywhere with your pen now is that not only can you take notes on the special Livescribe paper, but those notes will immediately be sent via Bluetooth Low Energy over to a virtual page on your iOS device, so there's no lag between syncing to the cloud and no risk of losing your book and losing information.
Handwriting recognition is built into the new app, which converts the text you write to digital using Optical Character Recognition. It then gives you a searchable index of your content so you can find it easily.
You're now also able to annotate photos taken within the Livescribe app to add context to them.
Livescribe will sell the new 3 pen in two different packages. The $199.95 Standard package gets you the Pen, a charging cable, A5 notebook and a spare pen cartridge, while the $265 Pro package gets you the Standard package inclusions, as well as an Evernote Premium subscription for one year, an 80-sheet Leather portfolio notebook and an additional pen cartridge.
The Echo and the Sky will continue to live on for those hoping for a different solution in their smartpen.
You'll be able to find the new Livescribe 3 smartpen in Apple Retail Stores.