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Review: Penultimate – The Ultimate Sketching App for the iPad

Review: Penultimate – The Ultimate Sketching App for the iPad

Handwritten notes and drawings are a time proven method of recording ideas and plans. Can an app on your iPad really take the place of those easily misplaced pads and pens? That’s the role Penultimate, an iPad app available in the App Store ($0.99, link) attempts to fill.


Penultimate attempts to give the user the same familiar experience they can have with a pad and pen, but with extra features available only with a device like the iPad.

The app allows you to draw and write on various types of “notebooks” using different color inks and pen thicknesses. It also allows you to cut and copy, erase, and even undo your previous actions. You can insert new pages at any spot in your notebook, and even rearrange pages. You can also share your notebook (or a single page) via email, sending your notebook as an attachment in either the familiar PDF format or Penultimate’s own file format.

The interface is simple and easy to use, but for users who find it more comforting to have a tutorial, the app includes a notebook that shows you how to use the program page by page. It only takes a few minutes to go through, and I found it very informative. Once you go through the tutorial, you’ll be able to hit the ground running.

The pages are “written on” by using your finger. No multi-touch gestures are available in the app, but none are needed. I’d also like to note that I did try a Targus stylus with the app, and while it worked well, I found my finger to be the preferred tool of choice. Your mileage may vary, and as always is a personal choice.┬áThe app also allows to you to insert photos or graphic files into your notebook.

Notepad paper can be changed to various types, graph, lined, and blank are a few. Various other types of “sheets” like Time and Task, Music, and Games can be purchased and downloaded from the Penultimate “Paper Shop” for n0minal fees.


I found Penultimate to be an easy to use and valuable addition to my productivity tools. The ability to draw an interface, or flowchart freehand is invaluable to brainstorming sessions. I also found the ability to email the notebooks in PDF format, so it can be viewable by anyone with access to “Preview” or “Adobe Reader” very useful.

Penultimate is a useful addition to any users arsenal of productivity applications. I highly recommend it, and at 99 cents, it’s a great value.

Price: $0.99 (link)

Rating: 3.5/5[rating:3.5]


  • Easy to learn, and use.
  • The ability to send your notebooks to other users via PDF is a valuable feature.
  • Allowing the user to insert and move pages around in the notebooks comes in handy when you find you’ve left something important out of your flow…


  • More ink colors would be useful.
  • More pen types, maybe dotted lines, or arrows would be nice.
  • It can only import it’s own native format files.
  • While you can use the app in landscape or portrait views, the notebook doesn’t rotate with the view.