Evernote buys Penultimate, will keep it as standalone app, put it on other platforms

Evernote, makers of the widely popular note-taking and idea management apps for iPhone, iPad, and pretty much every platform you can think of, have bought Penultimate, one of the premiere hand-written note-taking apps on the iPad. Evernote will be keeping Penultimate as a separate app, however, and will be moving to push it out to other platforms as well. Ben Zotto, Penultimate's developer, has written a blog post about the acquisition:

Penultimate has come a long way since its launch as the original dedicated handwriting app for Apple’s first iPad two years ago. It now offers scores of powerful features within that same accessible and attractive design. It’s remained a top-selling app, and millions of people have showed us that they’re doing things with Penultimate we never imagined. I’ve been amazed and humbled by all of the passionate users I’ve encountered— you have offered your valuable feedback, support, and candid (!) critiques. Penultimate would not be what it is without you. I believe that this partnership makes a lot of sense, and Penultimate is only going to get better from here. Not just incrementally better, but WAY better, and quickly. I’m excited about the future of the app, and I sincerely hope that you will be too.

Zotto also notes, interestingly enough, that core members of the Evernote team have been involved in mobile handwriting recognition technology going back to the days of the Apple Newton.

The main Evernote app is currently iMore's favorite way to enter text, record voice, and take photos (and be able to search text in photos) for every day productivity. Evernote has branched out into other, more specific apps as well, including Evernote Food and Evernote Hello. Penultimate added basic Evernote support earlier this year, but that will no doubt increase now that they're a member of the Evernote family.

Here's the full press release.

Mountain View, CA – May 7, 2012 – Evernote, the company that's helping the world remember everything, today announced the acquisition of Penultimate, the most popular digital handwriting application for iPad, and the fourth best-selling iPad app of all time. The acquisition will allow Evernote to expand its handwriting capabilities, while also making Penultimate available on more platforms and devices.

"Digital handwriting has been around for decades, but it has never gone mainstream because the hardware and software simply weren't aligned. Thanks to Penultimate and the iPad, that's all changing," said Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote. "For the first time ever, writing on a tablet is really great, which is why we chose this moment to make the acquisition. We have big plans for Penultimate that will both enhance the app and bring more capabilities into Evernote. It's already the best handwriting app out there, and it's only just getting started."

The Penultimate app is designed to resemble a physical notebook. Individuals can use a finger or stylus to take notes wherever they like. The application allows users to choose from a variety of paper types, ink colors and line thicknesses. Notes taken in Penultimate can be saved directly to Evernote with a single tap.

"Technology often distances us from things that feel natural and human. With Penultimate, our goal was to use the most advanced tools to enable something that was at once powerful and familiar," said Ben Zotto, creator of Penultimate. "I’m thrilled to join the Evernote family. Their vision and expertise will help bring exciting improvements to Penultimate, and together we’ll elevate the importance of handwriting within Evernote."

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Evernote buys Penultimate, will keep it as standalone app, put it on other platforms


Man, I really hope they keep that promise to keep Penultimate as its own product. 
Anecdote time: one of my favorite apps in the pre-iOS5 days was Essay by developer Dirk Holtwick. It was a rich text-editing iPad app with a beautiful interface, Dropbox integration, and… rich text editing. I was very concerned when I noticed it disappeared from the App Store, and I tried unsuccessfully to contact the developer. Turns out he was contracted/acquired by Evernote to help bring rich text to Evernote on iOS. Evernote killed Essay (it doesn't work under iOS 5, and obviously won't ever get an update). I was really upset, but I tried to be levelheaded and decided to try Evernote and use it to replace Essay, but I find the Evernote iPad app to be inept and bad in nearly every way. 
Last week, I finally had a reason to use a handwriting app on my iPad. Naturally, I got Penultimate, and I love it. Today's news is heartbreaking.  I'm sure it's a great opportunity for Mr. Zotto, so "congratulations", but it's bad news to my ears. Sure, that's probably just emotions talking...whatever. I still loathe Evernote. They kill and ruin good apps. 
Maybe it's time to get Note Shelf. 

I installed Penultimate, Remarks, Noteshelf, and Notability and I finally had time to give them all a good test run yesterday on there iPad 3.
Notability will likely be my #1 handwriting etc. app, with Remarks and Noteshelf basically tied for #2. But Penultimate has been deleted.
Penultimate didn't even rate high enough to be included in Leanna's comprehensive review of handwriting apps recently.
But, hey, maybe Evernote will improve it. On the other hand, I recently transferred all my notes out of Evernote, too, once Springpad came out.