One of the down sides of having a tablet is that as a single device that can do it all they have a tendancy to be distracting. If I take my Nexus 7 or Galaxy Tab into a meeting to take notes, I am liable to drift off and check my email (editors note: you mean 'play Angry Birds', right?) And taking notes using an onscreen keyboard somehow feels less intuitive than scrawling notes. That's where Quill for Android comes in handy. Literally. See also: Best Android Apps.

We tested the Quill Android tablet app mainly on the Nexus 7. It is compatible with all Honeycomb and newer Android tablets, and natively supports the active pens used by the HTC JetStream and HTC Flyer, as well as the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet. Quill costs 63p from the Google Play store.

Quill is, then,  a handwriting app for Android tablets. It is, in effect, a replacement for your note-taking app, via which you can write notes by hand or using a stylus. It's very simple to use, either with a dedicated stylus or simply a finger, but it's not a handwriting-recognition app so the value of notes you take will be limited.

Quill allows you to handwrite in vector graphics in virtual notebooks. The first time you open it the app boots into a simple lined page on to which you start writing. On subsequent visits you either drop into the home page - a list of all your notebooks - or back on to the page you last used.


A red button by default at the bottom left of a Quill notebook page toggles on and off the palette. Options here include a square icon which allows you to move the page around, a tool for drawing straight lines, an eraser, image tool, and back and forward arrows for undo and redo. Here you can also select a virtual pen, or a virtual fountain pen, which draws a thinner line that thickens when you apply pressure (like a fountain pen).

Quill tagsWhen Quill's palette is open you can also choose a colour from a swatch pallet, and select a stroke thickness, ranging from ultra-fine to giant. Across the top of the notebook page is a series of key options, as well as Android's usual settings drop-down. On the top left is a 'Tags' option. This takes you to a separate page in which you can add tags to your hand-written document. As we mentioned above, this is not an OCR- or handwriting recognition tool, so the notebook's file name and the tags you are append are crucial if you want to create meaningful, findable notes. Notes can be exported as PNG or PDF files. You can also share your Quill notes via Evernote or Android's built-in sharing function.

Writing with Quill is simple, and the capture accurate. The lines on the page are tiny on my Nexus 7, however. They are of course bigger on 10in devices, and you can switch to blank paper (or different widths of rules and so on) via the settings, page menu. On our first-generation Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, things looked a lot more sensible out of the gate.

Quill on Galaxy Tab 10.1

Quill: Specs

  • REQUIRES ANDROID: 3.0 and up
  • REQUIRES ANDROID: 3.0 and up


Quill is a handy little app for taking hand-written notes with a finger or stylus. It's simple, limited, and inexpensive. If you want to scrawl notes on your tablet, this app is great.