Before the launch of the highly-touted HP Chromebook x2 11, it was made clear that Google was hard at work to simultaneously launch a new note-taking PWA to accompany the new tablet from HP. Cursive was the name of this new app and the idea was quite simple: give users a web-based handwriting experience that is lightweight, simple, and easy to access on the web. With cloud-synced files and the ability to jot notes in any place you can pull up a browser, Cursive had some promise.
But that promise turned to letdown as the app finally arrived and was saddled with one glaring issue: pen input lag. As an app that is 100% focused around handwriting, having a bad pen experience is pretty much the worst issue you can have. While we were all rooting for Cursive to show up and be amazing, it just wasn’t. The premise was good, but poor performance with input lag is simply unacceptable and makes any note taking or drawing app basically useless out of the gate.
An update has brought needed lag reduction
Since Cursive is a PWA, that means updates happen server-side and can be loaded up right away. If you haven’t opened Cursive in a while, I can’t blame you. If you do so after reading this, you’ll see a little toast notification that will inform you there’s been an update. Again, these happen regularly, so I don’t know when the lag issue was actually addressed, but we’ve been hearing from multiple readers that Cursive is finally usable after some of the latest updates.
I put this to the test, checking the app on low-end and high-end devices alike and I can confirm that Cursive is finally in a spot that makes it usable for taking handwritten notes. Yes, this should have been the case out of the gate, but this is Google after all: they like pushing things out the door a bit early and letting all us early adopters act as pseudo-beta testers.
While things still aren’t perfect, the lag is greatly reduced to the point that the app could actually be useful for people to keep all their notes in moving forward. I did feel like the faster Chromebooks performed better, but it wasn’t a huge gap. Some of the reports of lag-free note taking came from our Patreon where devices like the new Lenovo Duet 5 and HP Chromebook x2 11 are reportedly performing very well with Cursive now.
My favorite part of the recent updates is the giant decrease in palm rejection errors which lets you plop your hand down right on the screen with no jitters or wobbles of your notes whatsoever. Honestly, it’s the most-solid palm rejection I’ve ever experienced on a Chromebook, and that is a big change from our early review of Cursive that saw the digital paper on the screen dance around under your hand constantly. It’s a big, big change.
I’d still say there’s a tad bit of optimization that needs to be done for most devices. I don’t have a Duet 5 or x2 11 around the office to test on any longer, so I can’t speak to how good those are. But my ASUS Flip CX5400 is performing quite well with only a very small amount of input lag. With a tad more work, I think Cursive could be one of the best handwriting experiences you can get in a Chromebook. The recent updates have me hopeful that Google will iron out these final wrinkles sooner than later.