It's Beta Time

Penbook ❤️ iPadOS 14. Do you?

In the dim past – a petit eon ago, in June 2019 – our founding team of two was at a crossroads. Should we write our own inking technology for Penbook? Or should we let Apple, this upstart, not even a trillion-dollar company, do it for us, for free?

And if so: should we then let Apple keep adding features to our app’s ink tech, also for free?

Even though we felt we were well-positioned to do it in-house – our competitors were only a decade ahead of us, and we already had a week of experience with the Pencil API – we let Apple take the first crack.

Our trust was rewarded. Apple’s inking technology is getting a major update in iPadOS 14, and Penbook is taking full advantage of it.

We’re almost ready to launch Penbook’s iPadOS 14 beta. Read on for the full rundown, but the short version is that if you want to join our iPadOS 14 beta, just click this button:

Edit: sorry, the beta is now closed! Thanks for all the interest.

Manipulate ink without changing tools

Now you can select and manipulate ink without changing to the Lasso tool. Just long-press on ink with your finger, and your work gets intelligently selected. Expansion handles automatically detect text and drawings. It’s like a word processor’s Ꮖ-beam, except for your ink.

And when you select ink, you get a powerful new option in the context menu: “Insert Space Above”. Ever written a bunch of notes, and needed to squeak in another line in the middle of the page? Now you can make room with just two taps.

Choose (and save) your favorite colors

The custom color picker gets a major overhaul in iPadOS 14. The grid of comfortable defaults remains, but you can also pick from the complete color spectrum, or use RGBa sliders and hex codes for both the P3 and sRGB color spaces.

Best of all, any color you pick can be instantly saved to an iPad-wide palette of your favorites, which you can use in other PencilKit-enabled apps (like Apple Notes).

Write instead of type

There are only two text input fields in Penbook (it’s not called “Keyboardbook”). But now you can write in them instead of typing in them, and near-perfect OCR will convert your handwritten input. Will this new power drive you to a rash act?

Make your notes perfect

Penbook’s new shape recognition means you can draw perfect rectangles, ellipses, and lines. No more need to use the finicky built-in ruler to draw a straight line. You’ll be astonished by how beautiful your now-tidy notes are.

We made it so you can transform your ink into perfect shapes without slowing down. Just tap with two fingers, and that’s it. No tool switching, and no long-pressing.

Augmented reality

This actually has nothing to do with iPadOS 14, but it’s very, very cool, and we’ll be sneaking it into the beta as soon as we can.

(It’s also a bit spooky - after you place your penbook up on the walls of your house, you might find that you keep expecting to see the pages where you left them, even without an iPad in front of your face.)

Get on the list

If you have an iPad running the iPadOS 14 beta, and you want the latest goodies, sign up at the link below.

Edit: sorry, the beta is now closed! Thanks for all the interest.

Don’t worry – if beta software isn’t your thing, all these great features will be coming to you soon enough (hopefully by October). We can’t wait to show them to you.


– Team Penbook