If you’ve recently downloaded iOS 16 or several of Apple’s other recent software updates, you have a new app to play with.
Freeform is Apple taking on the evergrowing industry of whiteboard/organization apps with a compelling option of its own.
At face value, Freeform is an endless digital whiteboard. However, in true Apple fashion, it has some extra power packed into it. It features fantastic collaborative and cloud-save mechanics, decent drawing tools, and it all works smoothly.
While a whiteboard might seem like a good tool for meetings, since this one is in your pocket and on every device, it’s also a suitable Pinterest board replacement, note-taking tool, drawing app and more. Other examples could be wedding planning, home organization, a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. From seating charts to blueprints to story arcs, everything can be on the same page, easily adjustable, and for the most part, understandable.
Part of me worries that the more personalized approach to drawing and organizing on a whiteboard compared to a formatted text doc or a slideshow could be confusing for large teams to collaborate on. Still, only time will tell how this tool becomes popular. However, for smaller teams or people looking to organize their thoughts, Freeform is great.
During my time with the app before release, what surprised me the most was how well the app handled links and other files pinned to the board. Instead of just being the typical blue links or file-type thumbnails, you get previews that showcase the content it links to in an easy-to-browse way.
Beyond that, you can place shapes from the massive library of over 700 items onto your canvas and colour them. Of course, you can also draw using various tools, and there’s even a convenient lasso tool to move elaborate drawings and ideas around your board with ease.
As you’d expect, the app is available on iPhone, iPad and Mac, and offers the same tools on each device. However, the form factors and inputs each have particular strengths and weaknesses. For instance, with its Apple Pencil support, the iPad is the number one platform in my eyes. However, having boards always accessible on my phone is very handy. It’s a small thing, but it removes a layer of friction towards brainstorming and planning. The Mac is pretty good for organizing items on the large screen since you can see more of your board at once. It sounds weird, but all three versions of the app play very well together to offer a compelling whiteboard experience.
At the end of the day, using Freeform is fairly natural and there’s a lot of power packed into this tool, but it’s another Apple item that relies on your iCloud space, so even that measly 200GB option is bound to fill up fast.