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Penultimate for iPad review

My latest productivity app this week? Penultimate for iPad. There are several competing "free hand" note taking apps on our favorite tablet device. After our recent TiPb at Work Post, I thought I would see if Penultimate tries to separate itself from other note apps on the iPad. Is being simple with just enough  of a "feature" to get the job done enough?

Penultimate starts you off with a single notebook. That notebook serves as a tutorial to show you how to use Penultimate. The example notebook is excellent as it "teaches" you everything you need to know about the app. The basic setup is this; you can have virtually unlimited notes in your notebook. You tap the bottom right corner to go to the next page and the bottom left corner to go to the previous page. You have a pen, eraser and a clear page button at the bottom as well. On the main screen you can create your own notebook, email or delete notebooks as need, you can even rename them by tapping the name located below the notebook.

Writing in Penultimate is a pure joy. As you draw or write with your fingers, the developers have given the virtual ink a very distinct look, almost like calligraphy. The ink is thick in some areas and thinner in others. If you want to adjust the thickness or color of your ink, simply tap and hold the pen icon at the bottom of the page to make your changes.

You can create new notebooks with the tap of a button located in the top left hand corner. The top right hand corner gives you additional settings. The style of paper be changed from graph to lined for example, you can reposition the tools (pen, eraser, etc.) to the top of the page and even email the entire notebook or just the page you are on via email. Penultimate converts the notebooks to PDFs for emailing.

I like Penultimate for what it does; it is a simple no-frills note taking tool. I find there to be a couple of irritations however. In landscape view, you are given a cropped view of the page and you can flick the right side of the screen to scroll towards the top and bottom. I feel there has to be a better way to implement this, or, give me completely different functionality in landscape. The other issue is that there is no way to zoom to give yourself more space; the notebook is it's real size and there is no zooming. I would have liked to have seen a pinch-zoom function that increased the size of your note area. Ah, perhaps in a future release. Regardless, Penultimate is a beautiful fun and easy note taking tool that most of use can find a  use for in our busy lives.

[$2.99- iTunes Link (opens in new tab)]


  • Simple
  • Beautiful design
  • Ink looks great
  • Animation is smooth


  • Landscape view is awkward to use
  • No pinch to zoom functionality

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Software trainer, blogger and mobile technology enthusiast living in the suburban Midwest.

  • Hey, I reviewed this app on the forums already! . I think I gave it four out of five stars as well!
  • I happy to see this app reviewd as I am looking into buying it.
    Your review talk a lot about business usage, it however fails to show it being used in a business context.
    The note taking examples in the video are over simplified and we can not see how a rich note book like the user manual is achieved.
    Maybe a great app, but your review is below par.
  • @Maxime If you think TiPb's review is so below par then write your own, better one and submit it to the App Store. As for the app, how was the Wrist Protection feature? I'd love to use this kind of app with a Pogo Sketch stylus but am concerned about accidental inputs.
  • Hi, I agree that there must be a better wrist protection feature, like the one in Note Binder App.
  • Thanks for the review ichad....
  • Ok, I get how it works, good review. However, here's the million dollar question - could you easily take copious notes, as high school and college students need to do? I don't ever see myself in class taking math notes with my finger or other classes that are more lecture intensive, such as biology. That class in college was pretty much constant writing w/ a few graphs. It just seems too slow to use this for that. So what do you say iChad? Pair it w/ a Pogo Sketch and you're good to go? Or is it more for the occasional sketch and toddler fun? Thanks for the review.
  • Must Haves: I would like the ability to add pictures and to type with the keyboard. I'd also like to be able to see a listing of my notebooks.
    Nice To Haves: Change notebook colours.
  • To answer some of your questions,
    For note taking, I use Evernote, not this app. This app is really good for very quick, "crude" notes. Or, when you need to draw something to get a visual representation of it. For example, at work we need to plot out how data might refresh certain servers. I could use Penultimate to draw this out and share with my co-workers. I would use a tool like Evernote to take traditional notes, not Penultimate.
    Keep in mind, it's a $3 app and for that money, it is a great too. Sure it could use more features, but for what it is/does it is very good.
  • I wish it had the capability to record audio as you write like at least one of its competitors. Better yet I wish it would take Livescribe's lead (or Evernote if it made handwritten notes native) and actually sync what/where you write to the audio at the moment of writing.
  • I'm not sure why everyone is so high on this app but I would rate it one or two stars only. First the plus is it writes well and has few bugs so it functions as a writing app. However, don't think this turns the iPad into a tablet PC. Writing is still crude compared to a tablet.
    Now the bad: wrist protection is a sensational joke! My wrist writes more on the app than my stylus. What the developers didn't tell you is wrist protection only works on the pen or finger is moving across the iPad. In other words, if you rest your wrist on the app, it will write just like your finger or pen. It's almost worthless to me without better wrist protection
  • Hi,
    I downloaded the PENULTIMATE and things are fine. Can somebody please guide me how to save what I have written in the iPAD itself. thank you
  • I simply love this app! It an only get better...
  • Using a stylus with this app makes it 10 times more user friendly :)
    Thanks for the review.
  • this or notability? they're both on sale right now.