With the release of iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2, and macOS Ventura 13.1, Apple has released Freeform, a new app for live online visual collaboration.
Freeform is based on the same “infinite canvas” concept popularized by apps such as Miro or Endless Paper, with the advantage of being an Apple native app with full integration with iCloud. The app is also fully compatible with FaceTime, to let users videocall within the app while working on the same board.
The idea behind the app is to offer an infinite working surface where users can write, post files, scribble and draw with their Apple pencil, annotate PDFs and much more without having to worry about page layouts or size.
“Freeform opens up endless possibilities for iPhone, iPad and Mac users to visually collaborate,” said Bob Borchers, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “With an infinite canvas, support for uploading a wide range of files, and collaboration capabilities, Freeform creates a shared space for brainstorming that users can take anywhere.”
The app provides numerous brush styles and color choices for sketching, adding comments, and creating diagrams. It allows iPhone and iPad users to draw anywhere on the canvas using their fingers and, when used with Apple Pencil, makes it convenient to sketch ideas on the iPad while on the go.
Freeform supports many file types, including photos, videos, audio, documents, PDFs, links to websites and maps, sticky notes, shapes, and diagrams. It also allows users to insert images or scanned documents directly into the board using the iPhone or iPad camera. The app has a library of over 700 shapes that users can customize with different colors, sizes, and text. Alignment guides make it easy to align the contents and drag and drop from Files (on iPad and iPhone), and Finder (on a Mac) is fully supported.
As it’s free to download from the App Store and integrates seamlessly with iCloud and the Apple ecosystem, Freeform could threaten the commercial success of competing apps such as Miro, which asks for an extra subscription to unlock advanced features.
Yet, when Apple in the past has released in-house versions of popular apps, the effect for third-party developers has been a counterintuitive surge in popularity due to a wider awareness by the user base. There’s a good chance this could happen again for Freeform and Miro.