Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition owners may have noticed that one of the more useful features available on these devices doesn’t work. The default Samsung keyboard includes multiple input options, including one that takes handwritten input.
Samsung’s been offering handwriting recognition since before the company released the first Galaxy Note phone, and it’s one of my favorite features. But when I started testing the Note 3 and new Note 10.1, I couldn’t get it to work and, after a few minutes, the whole keyboard app would crash. Text input via the QWERTY keyboard and voice worked just fine, leaving me mystified.
Googling the problem revealed that I am not the only one to experience this. I dove into a long thread on XDA Developers where users from all over the world had been trying to solve the mystery. Lucky for us all, they did. Bad news is that this is not a problem most users can fix on their own.
According to a Samsung customer service rep, the culprit is the third party software that runs the handwriting recognition. The version Samsung loaded on all the new Notes has a license that expired on September 30th. That’s why it didn’t work out of the box for most US customers and only worked a few days for people in other countries. Samsung apparently knows about the problem and has issued updates to correct it. Here’s where the bad news comes in: that update is not universally available.
I initiated an update on the Galaxy Note 10.1 and did find one waiting. After the install the handwriting keyboard worked just fine. When I went to do the same on the Galaxy Note 3 from T-Mobile, the phone could not find an update. Back on the XDA forums it looks like some overseas owners were able to update, so the patch exists for phones, just not all phones on every carrier just yet.
Until the update rolls out for phones, there are a couple of workarounds. You can try downloading MyScript Stylus Beta app as this might extend the license and make the Samsung keyboard work again. Success at this is not 100 percent. You can also try using the other handwriting input–yes, there are two–which does work. Hover the pen over a text field and you’ll see a little pencil icon appear. Click that to bring up a handwriting input area. It works similarly to the keyboard one and is easier to deal with, in some ways.
One of these solutions should help get you through until the update comes to your phone.