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GBM InkShow: Inking on the iPad



First up, before I get to the subject of this InkShow, thank you from the bottom of my heart and from my family for all the kind wishes, prayers, and support the GBM community has offered on the occasion of the passing of my Mother. She’s at peace now and our family is slowly starting to re-surface from the events of the last week. In the week before her death I had filmed this InkShow, but obviously other events took precedence.

Now, on to the InkShow. I take a look at some of the Inking Apps available for the iPad. These include Penultimate, FastFinga, WritePad, MobileNoter, iNapkin2, Noterize, and NoteTaker HD, as well as a few others. For me I’ve made no secret that Penultimate fits my note taking needs on the iPad best of all, and that is still the case.

There are really several different categories of these apps. Penultimate, Noterize, and Note Taker HD all have some from of wrist protection or palm rejection that makes taking notes easier. WritePad is an excellent tool for those who need and use handwriting recognition. MobileNoter allows you to use your OneNote note books on the iPad and go back and forth. The rest offer less in my view, but depending on your needs might just fit what you’re looking for.

We’re still a long way, (if ever) from seeing any sort of comprehensive digital note taking App similar to OneNote. The Evernote folks many months ago promised Inking was coming, but I think that’s a back burner update just like Digital Inking is for most who adhere to common wisdom. I tip my hat to all of the App developers who are working to make the iPad a Digital Inking note taking device, regardless of how well or not their Apps may work for me. Taking notes is a personal experience and the fact that there are choices available make it more than likely that you’ll find one that comes close to fitting your needs.



  1. Jack

    10/06/2010 at 9:17 am

    Great piece, Warner. I agree with all of your points. Its starting to look like a combo of Noterize and Penultimate may be the way to go for me. Is the palm rejection better in Penultimate better than Noterize in your view? What I like about Noterize is the ability to import and then annotate PDF docs, this comes in handy when there is a printed agenda for a meeting. Penultimate for notes on the fly.

    Anyway, thanks much for the nice summary of choices out there.

  2. Warner Crocker

    10/06/2010 at 9:49 am

    I find Penultimate slightly better when it comes to Palm rejection.

  3. dstrauss

    10/06/2010 at 11:15 am

    I have to admit, upfront, that I finally gave up on the iPad over inking. That said, I found Note Taker HD to be my favorite because in Edit 2 mode (using the text entry box) I could end up with near “normal” looking text when viewed or printed out. Otherwise, my notes looked like magic marker on a poster board.

    So, I finally gave up and went back to OneNote on my HP 2730p tablet. There was just no comparing the inking experience on teh tablet with OneNote. The ability to search my chicken scratching without having to convert to text is a godsend.

  4. Rob

    10/06/2010 at 12:45 pm

    Unfortunate that you haven’t covered what I consider to be the best app for my personal needs; Notes Plus.

    I won’t list all of the features, but it does a fantastic job for pure inking, with a number of additions that make it very functional.

    I encourage you to check it out.

  5. Roger J

    10/06/2010 at 1:03 pm


    Thanks for this, a chink of light! That bit about synching with OneNote is an eye-opener. Is it REALLY synching back and forth? Would work with Dropbox?

    Maybe I might go for the iPad instead of compromising via the Fujitsu T580 or my current Toshiba Portege M700 UK model.

    My slate is for work, then pleasure, so maybe the iPad is now on the radar for me.

  6. Medic

    10/06/2010 at 1:06 pm

    Why don’t the makers of these programs collaborate? It makes so much sense. You’ve even demoed the reason why.

  7. Gordon

    10/06/2010 at 5:00 pm

    great inkshow warner. Would love to see more of these in the future.

  8. TabletTeacher

    10/06/2010 at 9:12 pm

    I’m using Noterize with a POGO stylus. I love the audio record feature. I use it to record and mark-up student Running Records. Is it perfect? No. But it does the trick.

    Good Reader just pushed an update that allows for annotations now. That seems to be a good fit for correcting and editing student papers.

    I’ll keep sending the updates to you Warner. Thanks for getting me started with this.

  9. Fernando

    10/07/2010 at 6:38 pm

    Penultimate came out with an update. It was pretty good, now it is better! I think we will be getting closer and closer to workable apps for inking on the iPad.

  10. CLC

    10/08/2010 at 1:23 am

    Is there an app that can drop in photos to be positioned or cropped in any fashion I choose and can even be inked over along with colored inks, similar to the Courier interface (though I know there will be limitations)?

  11. CLC

    10/08/2010 at 1:23 am

    Is there an app that can drop in photos to be positioned or cropped in any fashion I choose and can even be inked over along with colored inks, similar to the Courier interface (though I know there will be limitations)?

  12. Stockmarket

    10/08/2010 at 2:01 am

    Why do the pens for the iPad have round tips, unlike TPCs? I hate that.

  13. Anonymous

    10/10/2010 at 11:19 pm

    Great review(s), Warner.

    However, I’d like to make a couple of points. First Dan Bricklin of VisiCalc fame wrote Note Taker HD, not WritePad. And, towards that end, is there some reason you didn’t talk about the best part of Note Taker, the so-called “Edit 2” mode? I agree that the mode you showed is still quite a bit rougher than Penultimate, though I think that’s in part due to the fact that it was added only recently.

    Where Note Taker shines, however, is in its Edit 2 mode, which provides a smaller writing box, somewhat like FastFinga, that projects your handwriting onto the page above. This allows you to put as much text onto the page as with a real pen and paper — something that Penultimate doesn’t do. Moreover, it has an absolutely brilliant conceit to automatically advance the writing surface in the box, so unlike FastFinga, you’re not constantly having to pause to post your writing on the larger page above.

    I’ll concede that Note Taker is not for everyone, and I agree that Penultimate is a more natural “pick-up-and-just-start-writing” solution, but Note Taker HD has converted lots of folks like me who have large handwriting and can only get about half a sentence on a typical Penultimate page!

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