App Review: Penultimate

Category: Teaching
Platform: iOS
Price: $0.99

What is it?

Penultimate is a note taking app that allows you to write notes out by hand on your iPad.


The app allows you to write in various colors, in different pen sizes, and even let’s you import photos into your notes (via the iPad’s Camera or Photo Library). You can erase notes using the “eraser” function, or move parts of your notes around using the “cut” function. Also, there’s a great, built-in “undo/redo” feature.

Penultimate allows you to save your notes into various Notebooks, and even allows you to export them to Dropbox or Evernote (the app is part of the Evernote family). Having various notebooks makes it very easy to sort your thoughts.

There are different types of “paper” you can write on, and you can download different “paper” packs (e.g. task list and calendars) for a minimal fee.

What are the app’s best features?

Penultimate’s best feature is probably its ease-of-use. It takes two seconds to understand how the app works and start taking notes.

Where does the app fall short?

Note taking apps just aren’t there yet in terms of producing clean, handwritten notes. Even with a stylus, my writting on Penultimate often looks like that of a five year old. I’d really love to see some advancements in this technology (and I know there have been some) or even an app that turns handwritten notes to text.

How is it useful for #physed?

I find myself using Penultimate almost every time I teach #physed. Be it for drawing a quick diagram for a game, to annotate a picture I took or students working, or to check for student understanding, Penultimate has been a great tool.

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I’ve also used the app in a grade one nutrition project where I had students draw their lunches and see how many colors were represented (the goal was to have a rainbow on your plate each time you sat down to eat).


Penultimate has been a great tool to have while teaching, and one of the few that has kept its place on my homescreen for such a long period of time. Its intuitive interface makes it a breeze to use for both teachers and students.
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Joey Feith is the founder of He currently teaches elementary physical education at St. George’s School of Montreal in Quebec, Canada.