Evernote acquires Penultimate: Two great notetaking apps come together

Like peanut butter and chocolate, the combination of Evernote and Penultimate can only bring good things.

The popular note-taking service Evernote has announced today that it has acquired popular iPad note- taking app Penultimate. Penultimate will remain a separate app, but will gain many features including closer sync integration with Evernote and search capabilities. The creator of Penultimate, Ben Zotto will be joining the Evernote team.

These two note-taking apps have very complimentary features. Penultimate is one of the best handwriting apps for the iPad, offering smooth inking and great palm rejection. Evernote has expanded from a desktop application for taking, storing, and searching notes, onto most major mobile platforms, giving you searchable access to all of your notes nearly everywhere.

Penultimate already has the ability to sync notes to Evernote, which brings a host of features -- Evernote runs Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on your handwritten notes in the background, making them searchable. However, each note must be uploaded individually, and changes cannot be made to the note uploaded to Evernote, only the original in Penultimate.

Having continuous sync or adding OCR directly to Penultimate would only make the app more appealing. Ben Zotto has also mentioned on the Penultimate blog that with this partnership, Penultimate will finally be coming to other devices. One of Evernote's strongest points is that it's available on every major mobile platform, and it would be great to see Penultimate also available on a similar variety of devices.

Evernote does have a drawing extension called Skitch, which runs as a separate app, but will then import drawings into Evernote notes. But it's not really a great solution for taking pages of handwritten notes. Evernote says on their blog that Ben will lead the effort to bring handwriting and digital ink functionality into other Evernote products and platforms.

Right now, the only way to get handwritten notes directly into Evernote is through the desktop application on Windows. And even then, you have to choose between handwriting and text, there is no mixing, unlike Microsoft's OneNote or iPad apps like Noteshelf.

Evernote's team has been working on handwriting recognition since the days of the Apple Newton, and Evernote's OCR has worked well for me for making handwriting searchable. You can already take other kinds of notes in Evernote's mobile apps, like pictures, audio notes, and rich text notes with check boxes and bullet points. Adding Penultimate quality ink directly in the Evernote app would be a huge bonus.

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Michelle Mastin

PC World (US online)

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