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watchOS 8.1 defaults to Scribble text input and that's bad for dictation

Apple Watch Series 7 Qwerty Keyboard
Apple Watch Series 7 Qwerty Keyboard (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • A future watchOS update is going to make Apple Watches default to Scribble for text input.
  • Currently, Apple Watches default to the last-used input method.

Anyone who uses an app like Drafts on their Apple Watch to quickly get ideas out of their head and into text form via dictation, take note. When watchOS 8.1 arrives — soon, presumably — it will make that more difficult. With the update installed, Apple Watches will default to Scribble text entry, forcing an extra tap for those who don't want it.

In its current state, watchOS 8 defaults to the last-used input method. However, Apple tells Drafts developer, Greg Pierce, that will no longer be the case with watchOS 8.1 and that it's intended behavior for Scribble to be the default method, regardless of whether the watch's owner ever used it.

That's bad news for people who use Drafts and other apps as places to dump quick, dictated notes.

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While watchOS 8.1 is still in beta and this behavior could change before launch, it's worrisome that Apple says this isn't a bug. That would suggest someone inside thinks this is the best way for the feature to work — something that could be related to Apple Watch Series 7 and its new keyboard feature.

Pierce has filed the situation via Apple's feedback mechanism and encourages everyone else to do the same. Hopefully this is a change that can be undone before watchOS 8 ships. Quick dictation is one of the best Apple Watch features around, made possible by apps like Drafts being able to put a complication on watch faces that immediately begins a dictation session. Those complications are broken by this upcoming change.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.