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Brill – capture handwritten or spoken notes

This app can perfectly process your scruffy scrawl

Price: Free (supported by IAPs)
Version: 1.5.0
Size: 32.5 MB
Seller: TigerSpike Limited
Platform: iPhone and iPad

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Brill is an iOS app that aims to bridge the real world of handwritten and dictated notes, and the digital world, where catalogs of notes can be processed, synced, and stored. Through offering accurate and fast handwriting and voice recognition, Brill makes it easier than ever for busy people to make and save notes using an iPhone or iPad.

The hook with Brill is twofold. First, the app offers a handwriting recognition feature where users can snap a picture of their handwritten notes, and the app will convert these notes into digital text. Compared with other services we’ve looked at, like Pen to Print and Evernote, Brill works, well, brilliantly. It can perfectly capture and digitize notes which have been written at speed, in your scruffiest scrawl. The only downside here is that the process of actually snapping a picture of your notes isn’t as streamlined as it could be – compared with the scanning app Scanbot, where the image capture happens automatically, Brill feels a little slow and sluggish.

Brill will recognize your handwriting, but the process of turning it into digital text feels a little sluggish.

The second part of Brill’s hook is voice recognition. Users of the app can quickly dictate notes and Brill will process these as digital text. The app’s voice recognition is once again pretty good – as accurate, in our testing, as the likes of Siri. The process of dictating notes is also fairly streamlined: the app lets users hold a finger on a microphone and speak into the app, before releasing your finger to finish the dictated note. You can also dictate notes using the Brill app on watchOS, and in our testing, this also worked well.

Brill’s voice recognition works great on the Apple Watch.

When you make a note in Brill, that note is stored as a “card” inside a chosen folder. Cards are then layered on top of one another within your separate folders and can be tagged using a word or color. In this respect, Brill offers a degree of note management, although some users may wish to export their notes out of Brill and into a dedicated filesystem, like the Files app, for instance.

The good news here is that Brill allows users to export their notes as plain text or as a CSV file, meaning Brill can effectively be used as the “middle man” in a note-capture process. Given the power of Brill’s handwriting recognition, many users may wish to use the app in this way. There’s also support for exporting to Trello, although for other apps and services, you’ll need to go through the iOS sharing menu.

Brill tries hard to offer smart note management features (like colors and tags), but some users may still want to house their digitized notes elsewhere.

While Brill is free to download, its handwriting recognition requires the use of pay-as-you-go tokens which need to be topped up. Processing one photo costs a token, and 30 are included with the app download. This should give users long enough to decide whether Brill can fit into their workflows or not. IAPs for extra tokens start at $3/£3 for an additional 40 and rise to $10/£10 for an extra 150.

Brill is free to try, but to keep on using the app’s handwriting recognition service you’ll need to spend some cash via an IAP.

Whether Brill is the right app for you will depend on your own workflows for making and taking notes. If you’re looking to digitize handwritten scribbles, look no further: the accuracy of Brill’s handwriting recognition is outstanding. And incorporating voice recognition into the app is a nice addition. What’s great here is that exporting digitized notes out of the app is relatively hassle-free, meaning Brill could be the perfect addition to a pre-existing setup.

Take it for a spin, and see what you think.