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Apple with iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 is introducing the Freeform app, which is designed for brainstorming ideas, creating sketches, and collaborating with others on projects. Freeform is basically a blank canvas that you can use for anything.

freeform-1.jpg

In this guide, we've highlighted the various tools that you can use with the Freeform app on the iPhone and the iPad.

Shapes

There are hundreds of pre-designed "clip art" shapes that are available in Freeform, across the following categories: Basic, Geometry, Objects, Animals, Food, Nature, Symbols, Education, Arts, Science, People, Places, Activities, Transportation, Work, and Ornaments.

freeform-shapes.jpg

You can stack multiple shapes on top of one another with layering, change the color, draw over them, resize them with drag and drop gestures, break the component pieces apart and manipulate the design, add various borders, group them together, adjust opacity, and more. There are a huge number of tools for working with shapes for your projects.

Images, Scans, and Documents

The Freeform app supports all kinds of documents. You can add photos and videos directly from your Camera Roll in the Photos app, or take a photo with your iPhone or your iPad.

freeform-add-photos.jpg

Photos and videos that you add to your project can be resized with drag and drop gestures, cropped, viewed in full, and layered with other images and shapes.

freeform-add-link.jpg

You can scan documents using the iPhone or iPad's camera in either color or black and white, add various documents from iCloud Drive, or add any link from Safari. Links and files are shown in little card-like tiles and can also be rearranged on the canvas with drag and drop gestures and layered over shapes, images, and other files for a visual look at your documents you've added.

Stickies

With the Freeform app you can add digital post-it notes, or Stickies as Apple calls them. The Stickies are basically the same as the Stickies app that is available for Mac. You can change the color of Stickies, choosing from one of seven, and add text.

freeform-stickies.jpg

On an iPad, you can use an Apple Pencil to write directly on one of the Stickies, but if you use typed text, you also have various formatting options available like bold, bullet lists, different font sizes, and more.

Text Insertion

Using the text box, any typed text can be inserted anywhere on the Freeform canvas. Text can be as long or as short as you want, and all of the standard formatting options are available for changing font, color, size, and alignment, as well as adding styles like bolding and underlining.

freeform-add-text.jpg

Drawing Tools

Freeform has the same set of drawing tools that you might be familiar with from Markup. You can draw with a finger on the iPhone, or on the iPad, with an Apple Pencil. There are pens, markers, and crayons to choose from, all with adjustable opacity, color, and line thickness.

freeform-writing-tools.jpg

You can also access an eraser, a select tool for targeted selections of items on your canvas, and a lasso fill tool that fills lines that you draw.

Colors

Freeform has support for a huge range of colors. You can pick a simple color from a grid, choose a color from a spectrum interface, use sliders, or manually type in color hex codes for a specific shade. Favorite colors can be saved to the bottom of the interface, and opacity can be adjusted for any color as well.

freeform-colors.jpg

An eyedropper tool is available to match any color that's already on the canvas.

Object Movement

Any object in a Freeform document can be quickly rearranged and resized with drag and drop gestures. Tapping provides an interface where you can send an object to the "Back" or the "Front" for layering purposes, but there are no true layers to work with.

freeform-object-manipulation.jpg

Objects can be locked in place, duplicated, and constrained or unconstrained in proportion, useful if you want to change one dimension and not another.

File Management

Freeform boards can be saved as a PDF document or printed out, and they can also be saved to apps like Files and Dropbox. You can also email, text, and otherwise share links to boards with others.

freeform-printing.jpg

Multiple Boards

You can have multiple Freeform boards, which can be viewed as icons or a list, and sorted in various ways such as by name or date. Groups are available to organize a large number of boards, and there are also separate sections for Recents, Shared, and Favorites.

freeform-multiple-boards.jpg

Collaboration

Freeform has been designed as a collaboration tool, and you can share Freeform boards with other iPhone and iPad users. All Freeform board participants can work on the same board, adding images, texts, links, and more for group brainstorming sessions.

freeform-collaboration.jpg

Changes made to Freeform boards are synced for all users in real time, though it is worth noting that collaboration has not yet been fully fleshed out during the beta testing process.

Availability and Device Compatibility

Apple's Freeform app is available on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It requires iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2, or macOS Ventura 13.1 to work, and it is a standalone app that will not be available on devices not able to run these updates.

Article Link: 10 Things You Can Do With the Freeform App in iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2
 
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robgreene

macrumors member
Jan 12, 2008
63
151
Collaboration from the iPad still not working as of Beta v3. There is no option to turn on sharing in iCloud settings. Works fine on iOS but not iPad OS.
 
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marmiteturkey

macrumors 6502a
Aug 27, 2005
847
821
London
It’s a reasonable start, but no shortcut keys is such a weird omission.

I use Mural a lot, and it’s really good; it’s so far ahead of this, apart from inking and being a native app.
 
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jozero

macrumors 6502
Sep 14, 2009
328
364
Since, somewhat surprisingly there is no good UX vector tool for the iPad, like Sketch for the Mac, I hope this app works for that purpose
 
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zachz

macrumors regular
Jun 18, 2012
117
469
Weird.

Since it's not something that interests you, what about it makes you laugh so hard? Being part of iOS is certainly not an issue or problem. And for sure not to get so worked up about.
I don't think they're worked up or laughing hard -- I think they used "laughingstock" because it is silly and subject to ridicule given that they require an entire iOS update to get the app. Some people don't like updating firmware until a while after the release, and given all the bugs as of lately, makes sense to want Freeform but not an entirely new update.

The issue isn't that it is part of iOS but that they didn't just make it an easy download from the App Store on eligible devices. I assume this app won't be used by a vast number of iOS/iPad users so again, just odd that it required an entire update vs. an easy download.
 

Mr. Awesome

macrumors 65816
Feb 24, 2016
1,110
2,382
Idaho, USA
I like using this for note-taking since it’s easier to rearrange and organize things than in the Notes app, but I wish this also got the new drawing tools Notes has (Monoline, Fountain Pen, Watercolor) and Notes also got the tools from this app (Crayon, Fill outline thing)
 
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jozero

macrumors 6502
Sep 14, 2009
328
364
Affinity Designer? Illustrator ?
I have affinity designer - its way too complex for UX design

Illustrator is Adobe and the price they charge for apps is insane

I don't think generally feature rich vector illustration applications are an exact match for UX design. My opinion of course. However having worked on many apps on many teams, Sketch or Figma is used for this purpose
 
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steve09090

macrumors 6502a
Aug 12, 2008
954
1,848
I don't think they're worked up or laughing hard -- I think they used "laughingstock" because it is silly and subject to ridicule given that they require an entire iOS update to get the app. Some people don't like updating firmware until a while after the release, and given all the bugs as of lately, makes sense to want Freeform but not an entirely new update.
But if they released it prior to the update, doesn’t it then encourage bugs? They may need to do more tests on prior versions to ensure they do as good a job as they can, or as little number of bugs that they can for those particular updates.

Apple can’t win no matter what they do it seems. Jeebus. Why would someone who waits for an update, download a first version software?
 

citysnaps

macrumors G3
Oct 10, 2011
9,902
20,772
I don't think they're worked up or laughing hard -- I think they used "laughingstock" because it is silly and subject to ridicule given that they require an entire iOS update to get the app. Some people don't like updating firmware until a while after the release, and given all the bugs as of lately, makes sense to want Freeform but not an entirely new update.

The issue isn't that it is part of iOS but that they didn't just make it an easy download from the App Store on eligible devices. I assume this app won't be used by a vast number of iOS/iPad users so again, just odd that it required an entire update vs. an easy download.

I'm just spitballing here...but I suppose Freeform required an iOS update (a bug fix, new feature, whatever is lacking in 16.1.1) in order for it to work properly.

I guess Apple could have released it as a standalone app before the update. With the result it wouldn't work properly.

Imagine the whinefest that would have ensued here as a result. I suppose for some there would have been entertainment value in that.

Or...maybe Apple, for whatever reason, wants it to be an integral part of iOS/ipadOS, similar to Notes, Mail, Stocks, Messages, Contacts, Maps, Photos, and on and on.

So yeah, I guess those being included in iOS are also laughing stock-worthy. For some people, anyway.
 
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meboy

macrumors 6502
Apr 12, 2012
344
283
Does no one know of Jamboard by Google?

Basically the exact same thing but with improvements by Apple.

Strange I haven't heard anyone mention it or the likeness.
 

rldunn

macrumors member
Feb 27, 2010
87
58
Ann Arbor, MI
I got the new beta today just to try this new app out. So far, I really like it.

2 things I would like to see is some kind of categorization and/or hashtags in Freeform like we have in Notes. And I really wish there was a grouping - it kind of sucks to write on a post-it note, then move the note and have to separately move the handwriting.

Moving forward, I also need to mentally figure out when I'll use Freeform and when I'll use Notes for individual projects
 

Mr. Dee

macrumors 601
Dec 4, 2003
4,563
8,534
Jamaica
This is gonna be another feature you play with for a few days then it starts growing cobwebs. Apple should make 90% of this stuff and more in iOS optional downloads. Advertise it on first boot and let the users decide. Bloat is what I see here and its not even multi-tasking friendly OS.
 
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