In the earlier days of the Apple Watch, when you needed to enter text, you had to either use a canned response, an emoji, a doodle, or speak your message aloud and hope the watch would transcribe it correctly. However, that has changed with watchOS 3.

Scribble is a new feature in watchOS 3, and is available in apps where you can enter text. No, they haven’t built an entire keyboard into the small watch screen. Scribble allows you to actually write letters on your watch’s screen to enter text. As you write, your handwritten letters are turned into text. It’s a little slow (Palm Pilot, anyone?) but it works.

We’re going to show how to use Scribble in the Message app, but you can also use it in email apps and other apps where you enter text. Press the digital crown to access the app screen and then tap the Messages app icon.

Tap on the conversation for the person to whom you want to write a message.

In addition to the usual buttons (voice, emoji, and digital touch), you’ll see the new Scribble button. Tap on it.

A screen displays with a dotted grid area. Write letters in this area, one at a time. You can do it quickly, writing one letter on top of the previous one.

The letters you write are converted to text above the grid area as you write. There’s a “Space” bar at the bottom and a backspace button in the lower-right corner to delete letters, if something wasn’t interpreted correctly. Once you’ve written at least one letter, the up and down arrow button becomes available on the right. Tap this button to access the predictive text list based on what you written so far. You can also access predictive text by turning the digital crown.

For example, we wrote “Test” and then tapped the button. The predictive text list displays and we turn the digital crown to scroll through the list until we find the word we want to use. Once you stop turning the digital crown, the word pointed to by the green arrow is automatically selected and entered for you.

Once you’re finished writing your message, tap “Send”.

The text of the written message displays on the watch’s screen (and on your phone) as part of the conversation, just as if you typed it on your phone…

…and the message displays on the recipient’s phone the same way.

You can access options for the Scribble feature by doing a force touch on the Scribble button in the conversation view.

RELATED: How to Quickly Share Your Location Using Messages on Your Apple Watch

You can choose a language, although, for us, the only language currently available is English. Also, instead of trying to describe to someone where you are, you can send your location to them so they know exactly where you are. Tapping “Reply” simply returns you to the conversation screen (pictured above) so you can choose a method for sending your reply.

Tapping “Details” on the options screen, displays the contact options for that person, making it quick to change to a different method of contact.

Scribble is a really handy feature, allowing you to use your watch to communicate without having to speak when it’s not prudent to do so. And, it seems, we’ve come full circle now that 90’s technology is being integrated into the latest devices.

Profile Photo for Lori Kaufman Lori Kaufman
Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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