Best iPad app for handwritten notes is now free


For individuals who favor taking digital notes by hand as a substitute of typing, Notability has lengthy been an iPad must-have.

The app lets customers take handwritten notes on an iPad, ideally with an Apple Pencil. It helps an array of brush types and paper codecs, and it has a killer audio recording function for lectures and interviews: Recordings and written notes are synchronized, so you’ll be able to faucet on what you wrote and listen to the audio from that actual second. (The app is additionally accessible for iPhones and Macs, the place it’s principally useful for reviewing current notes.)

However after 11 years of promoting the app for an up-front worth—most just lately $9–developer Ginger Labs is leaving that mannequin behind. Notability is now free to obtain, and would require a $15 per yr subscription—or $12 per yr for a restricted time—to unlock all of its options.

Non-paying customers may have limits on what number of instances they will edit a be aware and what number of brushes they will save as favorites, they usually’ll now not be capable to mechanically sync notes to iCloud or different on-line storage companies. Ok-12 faculties will get the complete model of free, however current non-education customers received’t. As a substitute, they’ll get another yr to make use of the app with out restrictions.


[Image: Notability]

The change to a subscription mannequin could not sit effectively with all of Notability’s 15 million customers, however Colin Gilboy, the lead engineer at Ginger Labs, says it’s essential to serve a bigger purpose: By getting extra individuals to attempt the app, the corporate is hoping to create an ecosystem the place customers can share notes and templates with each other.

“It’s probably not pushed by income or income, a lot as how we need to increase and enhance our attain, and construct a broader ecosystem,” Gilboy says.

Making a neighborhood

The centerpiece of this new push is a gallery the place customers will be capable to discover notes that others have uploaded. College students, for occasion, would possibly use the gallery to lookup notes on a sure research subject. It may be a spot to find new note-taking codecs or coloring pages. Customers will then be capable to obtain, edit, and spotlight these notes for themselves.

General, it seems like a nod to the way in which apps reminiscent of Notion and Coda are constructing communities round shared doc templates. Each of these companies supply free tiers as effectively, the thought being that it helps promote an even bigger ecosystem.

Final yr, Notability tried a special method, promoting templates, planners, themes, and stickers to its customers by means of an in-app store. A “Really feel Good Journal,” for occasion, supplied coloring pages and different mindfulness workouts—Gilboy says it was the shop’s hottest providing—whereas a “Digital Life Planner” supplied an array of calendar views and goal-planning pages. Notability additionally offered additional options reminiscent of handwriting recognition and math conversion.

These options will all turn out to be a part of the brand new subscription plan, however Gilboy says he’s extra excited to see what customers will provide you with on their very own.

“We see the way forward for Notability as being extra targeted on collaboration and sharing,” he says.


Nonetheless, Ginger Labs needs to nudge customers towards subscriptions even when they’re not benefiting from these sharing options, therefore the bounds on cloud backups and edits. The corporate received’t say precisely what number of edits it should permit on a single be aware earlier than hitting customers with a paywall—for now, it needs to have the ability to tweak the quantity primarily based on what it sees from customers—but it surely does need its heaviest customers to finally pay up.

“We need to ensure that individuals can’t simply use Notability and make it all over med college for free,” Gilboy says. “That would go away us with no enterprise.”