Microsoft's Journal uses AI to make a more intuitive inking app

Machine learning powers the software's gestures and search features.


When it comes to digital inking and stylus support, few companies have as much of a tradition in the technology as Microsoft. Between its Surface devices and software like OneNote, pen experiences have been at the center of the company’s products for a while now. But even Microsoft hasn’t made a lot of software that you could say is ink-first in the way the new Journal app from its Garage development team is.

In designing Journal, the company says it wanted to create a more intuitive and accessible inking application. “We focused on this to help unlock new capabilities not possible with physical paper or seen in today in most inking applications,” it said. To that end, it turned to AI to enhance the experience. In a feature that’s reminiscent of the iPad’s recently added Scribble functionality, an AI-powered gesture allows you to scratch out spelling mistakes and any words you want to remove. There’s no need to switch to an eraser tool. Similarly, you can select individual words and sentences by tapping them or circling them with your stylus. Again, no need to switch to a lasso tool.

Machine learning is also there to make it easier to search and filter for specific documents. As go about using the app, it will detect and categorize things like headings, drawings and keywords. That makes it easier to then find specific documents when you want to return to them. Beyond those features, you'll find the usual functionality you can expect in an app of this type. If you’re a Microsoft 365 subscriber, there's calendar integration to make it quick and easy to jot down meeting notes. It's also possible to import PDFs and images so that you can mark them up.

You can try out Journal today by downloading it from the Microsoft Store.

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