We hear this question more than any other these days. Unfortunately, the answer is "no", you can't use an Ipad/Iphone with Active Ink and the reasons why you can't are somewhat insurmountable due to the Ipad's technical limitations. Allow me to explain.
Active Ink is all about capturing information in a way that mimics our customers' natural use of a pen on paper. That's all we do -- we replace your existing paper forms with nearly perfect electronic clones and those e-forms eliminate your need to re-key information that has already been "captured" via recognizable handwriting. Since Active Ink enables your existing forms electronically in a natural manner, we are totally focused on the speed and accuracy of data input using natural methods. We don't like clunky work-arounds or multi-step processes that require the consumer's re-education.
Make no mistake -- we don't care who makes the device that enables natural input. If the Ipad were the fastest, easiest and most accurate data-inputter around, we'd be all over it like a linebacker on a fumble in the end-zone! Unfortunately, while the Ipad is an unsurpassed platform for DISPLAYING information, it's a pretty crude device for CAPTURING information. Here are the primary reasons why it is a poor data-capturing device in the mobile workplace:
1. The Ipad has no built-in handwriting recognition engine. Yes, there are apps such as Writepad that can recognize and convert handwriting within themselves, but there is no handwriting recognizer that interacts with the Ipad's OS, such as that found in Windows XP or Win 7 tablet editions. In Apple's defense, they probably didn't bother writing a handwriting recognition engine built in their OS because.....(see point 2)....
2. Precise stroke input is impossible with capacitive-screen tablets! And yes, the Ipad is a capacitive-screen tablet! By "stroke input" I mean the lines that you can produce when handwriting or drawing. Stroke precision with any capacitive tablet -- Ipad, Android, or Windows -- lags far behind what a resistive or active digitizing screen can produce. You can't get very precise because the device needs to feel the target of your big, fat finger (or its prosthetic mimic) to triangulate input using multiple sensors that are spaced relatively far apart. A fine-tipped stylus simply can't span the multiple capacitive sensors and therefore it doesn't work. To date we have found no capacitive stylus that is any more precise than using your finger and using your finger is an unnatural and unsatisfactory way to write, in our opinion.
The only "work-around" to this fine-tip obstacle is to blow your writing surface and your stroke size up to a huge font so your imprecise strokes are not so apparent. Only then can a writer generate the necessary loops and peaks in his script which handwriting recognition engines can recognize.
Not surprisingly, this is the handwriting method that all Ipad demos seem to use. They zoom everything up to huge proportions, using the Ipad's entire visible screen as their work surface. They write in huge fonts where only one or two words can fit in on screen per line. This is, of course, an unnaturally large way to write, so when they want their drawings and writing to appear "normal", they shrink the zoom back down to normal sizes.
This method may work, but in our opinion it is not natural input. It's akin to writing on a blackboard with chalk. Yes, you can produce huge readable letters on a huge writing service, but how long do you want to be writing on a blackboard? Ask any school teacher for the answer to that question.
So normal input is the main problem with the Ipad, and by normal input we mean writing in sizes which approximate normal handwriting on paper, i.e. fonts that are smaller than 20 point. All of the apps for the Ipad/Iphone we've reviewed avoid this issue like the plague because you simply can't write on the Ipad's capacitive screen in a small/normal font. Take, for example, the following video which reviews WritePad, an app with handwriting recognition that is used for taking notes on the Ipad. This review actually begins with a disclaimer about the Ipad's shortcomings as an input device -- WritePad review.
Notice how the video shows input using both a fingertip and a stylus, but in each case the user writes IN GIANT STROKES using the whole screen. Also note that while WritePad has handwriting recognition within itself, it doesn't interface with the Ipad's OS or with other apps or the web browser. To do so, the user must "copy/paste" recognized text from WritePad into other applications -- a clunky, slow, multi-step process at best.
Of course, you can always type your text into a form using the Ipad's responsive virtual keyboard, but typing is not the input method preferred by most on-the-go tablet users. You can also build customized forms, brick by brick, using a few other commercial forms apps, but with these programs you are constrained to building your forms the way the programs want to build them, you can't take your existing forms and "convert" them into an electronic clone as Active Ink does.
Both of these methods may produce functional work-arounds, but a "work-around" is not the point in Active Ink's opinion. Instead of a "work-around", we seek to give you a "work-with". Active Ink works with your existing forms. It works with the natural ways you do business and with the devices and operating systems that are familiar to you. Active Ink is not a company that makes the mountain come to Muhammad. Active Ink comes to you and we try to do things the way you already do them.
Bottom Line: Until Apple gives us an Ipad 3 with more precise input sensors than are found on its current generation of capacitive-screen tablet, it will remain an inferior device for capturing information using electronic forms.