Does Graffiti Even Matter Anymore?

I was very skeptical of Graffiti.

A then-friend at the time who had a Newton raved about it.

At a trade show — back when NYC had them — he forced me to get a demonstration of Graffiti from a woman at the Palm booth. This was around the time the Palm III was released. She showed me how fast she could write and how similar to real letters the Graffiti characters were. Still skeptical, I asked her to show me how to do a semicolon, a hyphen, and maybe something else.

I can’t say I was impressed or sold. But at least I was no longer stubborn or ignorant.

What I really wanted was the upcoming Palm-size PC from Everex, the Freestyle. It seemed to offer everything Palm did except, you know, it was Microsoft. And Microsoft, at that time, always won.

Well, I wound up with a Palm III, which I bought from a dealer at a trade show — maybe the same trade show — because it was on sale.

I used the hell out of that thing.

Graffiti was actually a joy. I got good at it, I got fast at it. I’d think nothing of pulling the Palm III from my pocket, turning it on, pulling out the stylus, flipping the lid, and jotting a note — a process faster than the time it took to read this sentence.

Palm went on to have a twisted history, with its operating system divorced from the hardware maker.

Down the road, PalmOS was purchased by the Japanese company ACCESS.

And they released a version of Graffiti for Android.

Some of the reviews for it have gotten pretty bad. It hasn’t been updated in a long time.

Being a diehard user — still using it today as the original Graffiti via a buggy hack on my LifeDrive — I’m not keen on giving it up. I’d like it on whatever Android device I eventually get.

So I decided to write to ACCESS, even though others said they had and never got a reply. I’m stubborn:

PLEASE update Graffiti Pro for Android. Make the text area user-selectable. It’s too small on hi-resolution screens and also badly-scaled on tablets.

If you DON’T want to update, why not DONATE it as freeware that interested programmers can modify?

And what do you know? I got a reply, from their European office:

Thanks for your inquiry. Unfortunately the Graffiti app is no longer supported by newer Android versions. The application is now distributed for free but comes with that restriction. Currently there is no update available for newer Android OS versions.

Well, something doesn’t make sense. If it’s now free, why is there still a paid version for US$2.99 listed in the Play Store? Isn’t that stealing money?

I think this is a foolish move by ACCESS. With iOS now allowing keyboard plug-ins, I would have thought someone at ACCESS would have made the connection to updating Graffiti. How hard could it really be?

But these days, people are telling me things like Swype are the way to go. I’ve even seen a video for a swipe-able keyboard coming for iOS 8.

So maybe I’m going to have to leave Graffiti behind. Maybe I’m at the point with Swype-like keyboards that I was with Graffiti originally — stubborn and ignorant. We’ll see.

Oh, and that Everex Freestyle? I eventually bought a used one off eBay years later. My god, what a piece of unusable battery-eating garbage! Getting the Palm III was the best move I ever made.

Previously here:

Graffiti On The Nexus 7
No Graffiti For Rooted Sony Reader WiFi
Does Graffiti For Android Work On Nook Touch?


Filed under Android, iPad Mini Clones

6 responses to “Does Graffiti Even Matter Anymore?

  1. I was a Graffiti user for many years but find that my Samsung Note phone’s ability to ‘read’ the text I write while using the stylus is far better. No more of that learning to draw the letters a certain way since it can process my handwriting so well.

  2. princehifi

    Never took to graffiti, but still use a Palm TX daily. I recall Mike Cane as one of the personalities of the Palm Info Center comments board, often battling with ‘The Voice of Reason’ (?? – Palm insider?).

  3. I’m also a user and huge fan of Graffiti since the Palm days. I ran into this issue and reverse-engineered the app to try and find the problem.

    I found a way to fix the height of the text input area. I managed to modify the Graffiti .APK file, but I can’t just share it, since the rights belong to ACCESS CO. LTD. Therefore, I have released a free, ad-free app, named Graffiti Height Fix, that runs along the original, unmaintained Graffiti and Graffiti Pro apps and fixes this issue. Unfortunately, Graffiti Height Fix requires root and Xposed Framework, but these are worth having on their own merits.

    Graffiti Height Fix on the Play Store:
    Source code on GitHub:
    Discussion thread on XDA:

    I hope this helps other Graffiti users.

    • When Apple released iOS Extensions, there was a chance ACCESS would revisit Graffiti for iOS (and hence Android too). But given how capricious — once again! — Apple has become regarding Extensions, ACCESS might not want to wade into that muck now.

      I’d be willing to root and use Xposed, but no device yet. Thanks for your effort!

  4. As an old Grafitti addict, I actually started working on a clean room replacement for graffiti based on android gestures. I got as far as having a stand alone application that can reasonably recognize all graffiti gestures. I still have to fine tune it and turn it into an input method though. Sigh. I really should finish this, but I haven’t touched it for more than a year. I should probably put whatever I have on github.

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