Initial thoughts about the Google Cursive note taking app for Chromebooks

Sep 3 · 3 min read
Google Cursive notebook view

I read about the Google Cursive note taking app for Chromebooks a few weeks ago. The two things that interested me about it were:

  1. It is designed for hand writing notes
  2. It supports stylus use

I also read that it only would be available on the as yet unreleased HP Chromebook X2 11 detachable (separate keyboard and display). However, this turned out to be untrue since Cursive became available for use on other Chromebooks earlier this week.

Cursive is, I read, a Progressive Web App (PWA) that can be accessed through a Chrome browser at:

I first tested it using a Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook (my current go-to Chromebook and using it with the unfortunately awful Lenovo USI stylus. And, by “test” I mean to try to use Cursive to create a doodle for my Daily Doodle project (now in its 5th year). The experience on the otherwise excellent Flex 5 was not good because the Lenovo USI stylus (an optional purchase) is relatively unstable — it sometimes stops working in the middle of drawing a line, for example. However, the experience was interesting enough to continue the test for a second doodle the next night.

For the second doodle I used my somewhat unstable Acer Chromebook Spin 13 (it sometimes spontaneously reboots). Unlike the Lenovo Flex 5, the Spin came bundled with a reasonably good and very stable stylus based on the Wacom EMR technology. The Spin 13 remained stable during this doodle test. And, the Wacom EMR based stylus was stable as usual. I tried to use the highlighter pen to color in parts of the doodle. There’s a limited number of pastel colors because that is what highlighter colors are. The pen mode has a larger number of richer colors.

Google Cursive is NOT designed to be a drawing tool. However, as a friend noted to me, “Doodling is using writing tools to draw. So, this is actual doodling.” Embracing that philosophy, Google Cursive is perfectly fine for fast simple doodles as well, of course, as quick diagrams when note taking.

I still have not tested using Cursive as an actual note taking tool. However, I noted a few things:

  1. It only supports handwriting via a touch or a stylus. If there is a typing mode, it is not obvious. I should note that I didn’t actually try to use the keyboard with Cursive since I was testing doodling.
  2. Cursive appears to try to name notes based on handwriting recognition. However, my handwriting is so poor, the HWR was not very good.
  3. It is not obvious to me how to rename a note.

I’ll take Cursive out for a few test drives to learn more about it in the near future and will discuss it in the MobileViews podcast that I produce with Jon Westfall. More on Google Cursive later…


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