Apple with iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 introduces 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.
There are hundreds of pre-designed “clip art” shapes available in Freeform, in the following categories: Basic, Geometry, Objects, Animals, Food, Nature, Symbols, Education, Arts, Science, People, Places, Activities, Transportation, Work, and ornaments.
You can stack multiple shapes on top of each other with overlays, change color, draw on them, resize them with drag and drop gestures, separate components and manipulate design, add various borders, group them, adjust opacity , and more. There are a large number of tools for working with shapes for your projects.
Images, scans and documents
The Freeform application supports all kinds of documents. You can add photos and videos directly from your Camera Roll to the Pictures app, or take a photo with your iPhone or iPad.
The Photos and videos you add to your project can be resized with drag-and-drop gestures, cropped, viewed in full, and layered with other images and shapes.
You can scan documents using the camera of iPhone or iPad in color or black and white, add various documents from iCloud Drive, or add any link from Safari. Links and files are displayed in small, map-like tiles and can also be rearranged on the canvas with drag-and-drop gestures and overlaid on shapes, images and other files for a visual overview of your documents that you added.
With the Freeform app, you can add digital post-its or Stickies as Apple calls them. Stickies are basically the same as the Stickies app available for Mac. You can change the color of the Stickies, choosing from seven, and add text.
On an iPad, you can use a apple pencil to write directly on one of the Stickies, but if you’re using typed text, you also have various formatting options such as bold, bulleted lists, different font sizes, and more.
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 standard formatting options are available to change font, color, size and alignment, as well as add styles such as bold and underline.
Freeform has the same set of drawing tools that you might know from Markup. You can draw with one finger on the iPhone, or on the iPad, with an Apple Pencil. There are pens, markers, and pencils to choose from, all with adjustable opacity, color, and line thickness.
You can also access an eraser, a selection tool for targeted selections of elements on your canvas, and a lasso fill tool that fills in the lines you draw.
Freeform supports a wide range of colors. You can choose a single color from a grid, choose a color from a spectrum interface, use sliders, or manually enter hex color codes for a specific hue. Favorite colors can be saved at the bottom of the interface and opacity can also be adjusted for any color.
An eyedropper tool is available to match any color already on the canvas.
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 “back” or “forward” for layering purposes, but there are no real layers to work with.
Objects can be locked in place, duplicated, and proportionally constrained or unconstrained, which is useful if you want to change one dimension and not another.
Freeform tables can be saved as a PDF document or printed, and they can also be saved to apps like Files and Dropbox. You can also email, text, and share board links with others.
You can have multiple Freeform tables, which can be displayed as icons or as a list, and sorted in different ways, such as by name or date. Groups are available for organizing a large number of boards, and there are also separate sections for Recents, Shared, and Favorites.
Freeform was designed as a collaboration tool and you can share Freeform tables with other iPhone and iPad users. All Freeform board participants can work on the same board, adding images, texts, links, etc. for group brainstorming sessions.
Changes to Freeform boards are synced for all users in real time, but it’s worth noting that collaboration hasn’t been fully fleshed out yet during the beta testing process.
Device availability and compatibility
Apple’s Freeform app is available on 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 that are unable to run these updates.