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Pen Ultimate Upgrade Makes Ink Note Taking Easier on iPad



Cocoa Box Design, the developers of the iPad App, Pen Ultimate (iTunes link) have pushed out an update (v 1.2) that makes digital inking for note takers easier. I’ve written about Pen Ultimate before and Hector Gomez has provided us with a video of it in action.

Essentially, the folks at Cocoa Box Design have added a few wrinkles and improved the Palm Rejection as well as how a stylus works with the screen. As I said in an earlier post I found it sufficient for taking notes in a rehearsal, but the new version makes it easier to pour digital ink onto the screen and the better Palm Rejection means I have to focus less on making sure my hand and the stylus tip hit the screen at the same time. I also find that the Pogo Sketch stylus is easier to control on the new version than it was on the previous one.

New wrinkles include an option to move the Tools menu to the top of the screen instead of just the bottom and also the ability to add different colored ink.

Coming on the heels of the TenOneDesign news from yesterday, this shows that some developers see the wisdom of making digital inking with some degree of stylus control a reality on the iPad. Yeah, yeah, I know. But from my point of view, this is a no brainer.



  1. Kevin

    07/02/2010 at 9:41 am

    I sure wish they would give us more control over the ink width, I always feel like I’m using a giant felt marker instead of a pen when doing ink on the iPad.

    • Gordon

      07/02/2010 at 4:52 pm

      The latest version of Penultimate does allow you to change the ink width. Still not super fine but much better than before.


      • Batman Jr.

        07/03/2010 at 8:37 pm


        I may be missing it but I can’t see any way to change the pen width in 1.2 – little help? Thanks.

        • JoeC

          07/03/2010 at 9:08 pm

          Batman – Press and hold the blue pen icon (same place where you change color) and you’ll see three lines. Move from left to right to get three different widths.

          • Batman Jr.

            07/07/2010 at 3:59 pm

            Thanks, JoeC! Much appreciated.

  2. gmich

    07/02/2010 at 12:57 pm

    Palm rejection is still useless for lefties as far as I can tell. Why can’t they build that (reversing the palm rejection from right to left) into the program?

  3. DP

    07/03/2010 at 5:18 am

    Warner, I mentioned this under Matt’s post about FastFinga: in my opinion, the best note-taking app for the iPad BY FAR is Note Taker HD, and I urge you to check it out. It’s not attractive, though the developer, Dan Bricklin (who created VisiCalc) notes that he’s been focusing on the operational nuts and bolts of the app rather than its looks so far.

    It’s a little intimidating looking at first, and not nearly as straightforward as Penultimate, but if you watch the video about how it works, you’ll see that it makes brilliant use of the iPad’s strengths and limitations, not relying on tricks like wrist protection, and instead focusing on what is just a darn clever bit of software design.

    I urge you to try it out!!

    • Warner Crocker

      07/03/2010 at 5:48 am

      I actually am trying out Note Taker HD and will be reporting on it soon. BTW, I wouldn’t call Palm or Wrist Rejection a trick. It was one of the keys to Tablet PCs and in my opinion without it, Digital Inking suffers.

      • DP

        07/03/2010 at 4:33 pm

        I agree that on a Tablet PC with an active digitizer palm rejection isn’t a trick, but I think it very much is a “trick” of sorts on a capacitive display like the iPad’s, which is naturally made to pick up any and all touches. Just as palm rejection was sort of hit or miss on resistive displays like the old Fujitsu P16XX machines, doing it on an iPad seems to amount to the same kind of trade-offs.

        Maybe “trick” is a poor choice of words, though!

  4. HG

    07/04/2010 at 10:49 pm

    I’m also liking these new updates for Penultimate. I like that now I have colors to choice for pens and the tool bar can be moved to the top. Now we just need a app that can be synced with OneNote and let you do inking on iPad and sync to OneNote. I am using MobileNoter for just my OneNote sync notes and works great, but no inking on iPad from that app. Maybe soon we will see something.

    • Vitaly

      07/07/2010 at 8:19 am

      We are already working on inking, it will be in the next update.

  5. ChrisRS

    07/05/2010 at 9:58 pm

    I do not own or use an iPad so feel free to take this comment with a grain of salt.

    An iPad is not made for inking/note taking. Effective note taking on a device this size needs an active digitizer. While developing apps with plam rejection is impressive, it is still just a kluge, masking the lack of an active digitizer.

    I think you are trying to teach a pig to sing. (“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” Robert Heinlein)

    Good luck, though! I would start to consider buying an iPad if the inking/note taking issue were resolved.

    • Warner Crocker

      07/06/2010 at 5:11 am

      You might prove to be right about teaching a pig to sing. Call me overly optimistic, but I’m holding out hope that maybe the pig breeders (Tablet makers) will see that Tablets need to be able to do this and create some new bacon down the road. Developers who are currently offering singing lessons are helping to prove the need.

      • ChrisRS

        07/06/2010 at 9:12 am

        Agreed. I am concerned, however, that if a relativly useful work around is developed, the “reviewers” will see it not as an “accomplishment”, but as “not good enohgh”; we will then see another round of “ink is no good.”

        I would be more that happy to wrong about this.

  6. Tom Roud

    07/22/2010 at 1:31 pm

    I am wondering if one could use Penultimate to project in real time notes to students (instead of writing on a blackboard). Does anyone know if this is possible/doable ?

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