Today, The Iconfactory released a major update to its iPad sketching app, Linea. Version 2.0, which has been renamed Linea Sketch, takes what was already one of my favorite Apple Pencil-enabled drawing apps and has extended it with new features that make it more powerful than ever before. Most importantly though, the new features don’t come at the expense of the app’s usability.
When I reviewed Linea 1.0 last year, I was struck by how approachable yet capable the app was. That’s still the case, but The Iconfactory has added several new features that should make it appeal to an even broader audience.
One of the longstanding frustrations with the iPad Pro's Smart Keyboard is that it contains no place for holding the Apple Pencil. Last year Apple released separate accessories – the Leather Sleeve and Pencil Case – that could house the Pencil, but many iPad users still wanted something simpler: a Smart Keyboard with Pencil holder.
Twelve South, with its new PencilSnap accessory, appears to have made that possible.
The PencilSnap is a small leather holster, very similar to Apple's own Pencil Case, but with one significant difference: it includes magnets for attaching to other accessories, including Apple's Smart Keyboard and Smart Cover, and Twelve South's own SurfacePad. While we haven't been able to test the product yet, Twelve South stresses the strength of the magnets and tight grip of the Pencil holder – in other words, they're confident the PencilSnap won't get easily disconnected from its attachment point, nor will the Pencil come loose when you don't want it to.
PencilSnap is available for $29.99 in two colors: Black and Camel. If it works as advertised, it may well become the new go-to Pencil storage solution for iPad Pro users.
Earlier this week, The Iconfactory released version 1.1 of its iPad sketching app, Linea. The highlight of the release is iCloud syncing for all drawings stored in the app. This is a welcome addition for the sake of having safe backup files in the cloud, but it is also important because of a related app debut from this week.
Alongside Linea's 1.1 update, The Iconfactory has also released a companion app for Mac called Linea Link. Ged Maheux shares the details in a blog post:
This new app is the easiest way to get sketches drawn on your iPad onto your Mac. Using iCloud sync, your work is instantly available for use in your favorite macOS applications.
Start a new Photoshop document using Linea’s layers. Reference a quick design idea while working in Xcode. Transcribe meeting notes into a Pages document. Or just tap the spacebar to preview Linea documents using Quick Look. Linea on iOS works great to get an idea started, and Linea Link on macOS lets you take the next step toward making it a reality.
Linea Link is a perfect bridge between the iPad and Mac for those who use both devices to get their work done. Third-party app support includes Sketch, Acorn, Pixelmator, Affinity Designer & Photo, and the above-mentioned Adobe Photoshop.
It is still the early days of Linea's life, but it's comforting to see continued investment being made to the app by The Iconfactory. As John shared in his initial review, Linea is an excellent example of an app that blends elegance and usability with just the right amount of tools and power needed to get creative work done.
LiquidText is one of the few apps that feels uniquely built for the iPad. There is currently no desktop version available, nor iPhone version, and though that may be a negative in some ways, the positive side is that every new feature and enhancement is focused exclusively on iPad use. As a PDF reader, LiquidText has always provided tools that make its reading experience something you couldn't get with a physical document. This is perhaps why it was recognized by Apple as the most innovative iPad app of 2015. But today, with version 3.0, LiquidText not only offers a reading experience that's uniquely digital – it does the same with note-taking and annotation. And the Apple Pencil is a big reason for that.
iPad Diaries is a regular series about using the iPad as a primary computer. You can find more installments here and subscribe to the dedicated RSS feed.
Ever since I first got the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I've wanted to use the Apple Pencil more. However, every time I tried to fit the Pencil into my workflow, I stumbled upon the realization that, no matter the excellence of the tool at hand, I'm no artist.
I spend most of my time typing with a keyboard (either a Bluetooth one or the iPad's software one) and, while it's fun to pretend I know what I'm doing in Linea or Paper, the sad reality is that I'm downright terrible at sketching or drawing. Moreover, unlike others, my background doesn't involve a passionate appreciation of pen and paper. Therefore, I'm attracted by the Pencil's concept and technology, but I don't need it for my main line of work; plus, handwriting stopped being a daily habit after I graduated high school in 2007.
I was inspired by a story Ryan wrote, though, to reconsider if my work routine could still benefit from a different note-taking perspective. Testing fresh approaches and new ideas has always been the underlying theme of my switch to the iPad, after all. So when Ryan shared his thoughts on using the Pencil for non-artistic purposes, I took it as an opportunity to try out the Pencil as a complement to my writing needs rather than a futile diversion.
Apple device accessory maker Pad & Quill debuted the Leather Apple Pencil Grip that does more than just help you grip your Pencil. The grip, which is made of American full-grain leather, comes in three colors: Whiskey, Chestnut, and Galloper Black (think brown, dark brown, and black) and features a ‘hand finished baseball stitch closure’ that uses parachute-grade nylon stitching.
Pad & Quill’s accessory consists of two pieces. The first is the grip part, which slides over the barrel of the Apple Pencil near the point. The second sits near the top of the Apple Pencil and incorporates a clip and tethered holder for the cap. So, in addition to presumably making the Apple Pencil more comfortable to grip, the top portion of the grip lets you clip your Apple Pencil to a pocket or notebook and should keep it from rolling off tables. Also, the leash means the cap will stay nearby when you are charging the Apple Pencil, making it harder to lose.
Pad & Quill’s leather grip aims to solve three of the most common complaints I’ve heard about the Apple Pencil. If you find the Apple Pencil uncomfortable to grip, don’t like how it is prone to rolling off tables, or worry about losing the cap, Pad & Quill’s Leather Apple Pencil Grip is worth considering. The grip is available for pre-order only from Pad & Quill for $49.95.
Astropad originally launched on the iPad in February 2015 as a drawing tool that pairs with your Mac. It serves as a second screen, allowing you to interact with Mac apps using multitouch on the iPad. The standard Astropad app remains available for a one-time payment of $29.99.
The iPad has changed a lot since February 2015. The introduction of two iPad Pro models, paired with multitasking features in iOS 9, enables more professionals than ever before to get their work done with an iPad. To better address the pro segment of the iPad market, today the makers of Astropad launched a new app called Astropad Studio.
Astropad Studio is focused on providing artists with customization options that tailor the app to their preferences and workflows. Central to this greater flexibility is the ability to perform special gestures that are customizable. This makes possible an assortment of two-handed workflows that are similar to what can be done with Microsoft's Surface Studio. One hand can use touch gestures for things like erasers and right-clicks, while the other hand can continue drawing with an Apple Pencil. Pencil use is also improved due to the option to customize pressure sensitivity to fit your preferences. The transfer speed from iPad to Mac has been bumped to a 40 MB/s max speed versus the 5 MB/s supported by the original Astropad app, helping create a more seamless iPad-to-Mac drawing experience. Another exclusive feature in Studio is its support for keyboard use, which adds to the workflow options available to users.
Astropad Studio follows a different business model than the original Astropad app, now dubbed Astropad Standard. It is a free download, but using it beyond the 7-day free trial requires a subscription: $7.99 monthly or $64.99 annually.
Though Astropad Studio isn't made for a casual Apple Pencil user like me, I'm always excited to see developers address professional users with their iPad apps. Because paid up front apps still can't offer free trials of any kind, my hope is that Apple's opening of subscription options to apps of all types will continue to expand options for pro users in the iOS App Store.
Nebo is a digital notetaking app that was created by MyScript to showcase its handwriting recognition technology known as Ink. The app is iPad-only because it requires an Apple Pencil for input. Nebo can also convert hand-drawn diagrams and mathematical equations and embed photos and sketches within notes. I’ve been using Nebo to research this review and the accuracy of its handwriting recognition is remarkable. Nebo is a solid notetaking tool. It lacks a few features that would make it more competitive with notetaking apps that have been around longer, but the handwriting recognition is so good, that Nebo has become my default notetaking app.