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Freeform first look – Apple’s collaborative whiteboard app

Apple first announced Freeform at WWDC back in June, but thanks to a staggered software release that saw iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura arrive six weeks after iOS 16, we’re only just getting a proper look at this nifty collaborative whiteboard app.

That’s because Apple just released a beta version of Freeform for iPhone, iPad, and Mac, giving us a first hands-on glimpse of the app before it releases to the public in (most likely) a few weeks time.

So what is Freeform? Imagine the Notes app, souped up with a huge, flexible canvas and some additional drawing tools. Then throw in the ability to work on a document live alongside your friends or colleagues, scribbling notes as you collectively brainstorm ideas.

It’s a great way to collaborate remotely, and unlike existing apps that do something similar, it’s completely free and simple enough that you can pick it up in seconds. You can easily share a document by text or over FaceTime.

You can add text, links, images, and more with the press of a button. We particularly liked that you can drop a virtual sticky note to leave comments, and there’s a huge built-in library of shapes available. Apple’s familiar bank of simple drawing tools is here, which won’t win you any art prizes but is plenty to give your notes and diagrams some variance.

It’s a universal app that runs seamlessly across Mac, iPhone, and iPad, but it’s clearly designed for use on the latter with an Apple Pencil in tow, and scribbling ideas with that setup is extremely satisfying.

Freeform might not have the flexibility or the depth of something like Figma’s FigJam, but we could see it becoming popular and could certainly replace a paid-for equivalent for users who don’t need anything more complex.