We have nothing but respect for the CollaNote developer. His dedication to this app is admirable, especially because this is a free app. Let’s go through the top updates we have received in CollaNote from version 1.2.5 to 1.4.0.
CollaNote is the second app to change the raster ink in the Apple PencilKit to vector ink! That is exciting news indeed! Your notes will no longer pixelate when you zoom into them. As a result, our developer has given us more room to Zoom in now. Up to 8 times, according to the app’s update notes. Even old notes are not pixelating. How fantastic is that!?
You can now create hyperlinks in the app. Under the plus icon, you now have a Link tab with an option to Insert Link to a Page. You can also do this by simply tapping a blank space on the page (when your lasso tool is selected). You can either create a:
- Thumbnail of the page you’re linking to
- Outline Area, which creates a shadow around the section you hyperlink.
- Transparent Area is more subtle. If you’re organised enough to remember what you hyperlink, then this is the option you want to go for. The app doesn’t highlight hyperlinks yet, so this is something you don’t want to use if you’re likely to forget where your hyperlinks are.
Sadly at the moment, we can’t edit our hyperlinks. In case you linked the wrong page, you have to delete the link and create a new one. Which, we’ll take any day over not having hyperlinks at all.
Side note: we’re still waiting for our developer to let us select one item (on the page) at a time.
Interactive web widgets
You don’t have to leave your app to quickly look something up online. Insert Link to a Website adds an Interactive webpage that you can browse from within the app. You can then drag & drop notes out of the web pages as you read them. This can be a useful tool for research.
The interactive window can be whatever size you need, and you can place it anywhere in your notes. The app has some bookmarks and suggestions for you under the Link tab. You can Create and bookmark web pages you visit often to add to the list. Deleting bookmarks you no longer need is very easy.
Your web links can also be thumbnails or transparent. Transparent web links are especially useful because it means you can add them to handwritten notes, images, and even drawings. Most note-taking apps limit our web links to text, but CollaNote doesn’t.
Under Edit, we can now Crop our images in CollaNote. Simply drag the edges of the image to remove sections you don’t want. You can also choose the aspect ratio for the crop from several options. You can also rotate the image in this editing window. The last thing you can do is rotate and zoom/crop simultaneously. We hope our developer can give us an undo button in the window, or a reset option so we don’t have to return to the app’s workspace if we want to adjust any changes we’ve made.
The app also has some image filters for different looks. In this window, you can also draw items on your images. The inking experience is not great, though. It still needs some work. You can also add text, which has similar colour options to your ink. It works better than handwriting. It also has the option to crop the image.
The censor icon blurs out sections of your image if it contains sensitive information. Both Apply Filter and Censor windows have similar tools, so it doesn’t matter which one you choose, their features are the same. We’ve not seen image censorship in any note-taking app yet, so this is very interesting.
You can now translate sections of your notes in CollaNote. Make sure your translation icon is selected before selecting the section you want to translate. The tool works with handwriting, interactive web pages, images, and text. The translation appears at the top of your screen for only a few seconds (enough for copying to paste it in your notes). It is a handy feature for those learning a new language!
The Settings for your translation let you determine what the app reads out to you: Original/Translated Text. You can also disable this. There are no speech-to-text options for these translations though, at least not any we can see first-hand. You can also pick a Source language (original language) and the target one. We counted a total of 59 target languages and 8 source ones.
The rest of the updates are not very big, but they are worth mentioning:
- Double-tap to select attachments on the page.
- Change page colours for your notebook. The colours are the same as those for your pen tool. We hope to get better colour organisation, though.
- Add wallpaper behind your notebook. CollaNote has a few images to choose from. Custom images from your Photos library are still in beta testing (the developer REALLY needs to stop doing this). Beta features should not be visible to non-beta testers.
- Skip through your audio playback by tapping the synced notes.
- Access the app on Macs with the M1, M1 Pro and M1 max chips.
- Move selections across pages. It’s amazing how CollaNote has figured this out in such a short time. We’re still waiting for this feature in GoodNotes.
- Easily switch between the notes on your device and those in iCloud Drive.
When there are free apps like CollaNote that are releasing all these cool updates, it makes subscription packages hard to sell. It’s been a year since its release, and we are cautiously optimistic about the future of CollaNote as a note-taking app. Will it remain free, and what would that mean for other note-taking apps? For the record, though CollaNote is free, it is also one of the buggiest note-taking apps on the market. Perhaps, at the end of the day, one must choose the battle they are willing to fight: bugs or subscriptions.