The new normal involves increased use of collaboration and remote working tools such as Trello, Slack, Notion, WebEx, and Zoom. But what other tools can your teams use to collaborate remotely on complex ideas?
Perhaps these digital whiteboard apps can help.
While many of these solutions are aimed at educational professionals, they should be useful to any knowledge worker attempting to explain something and for group collaboration within teams.
The following all support iPads (most of them also support iPhones), some offer a native Mac client, and many also support additional platforms.
It is worth noting that Mac users with an M1 Mac (such as the fantastic Mac mini) should lobby app developers to request M1 Mac support. Where an iPad app is also available on the Mac App Store for Apple Silicon Macs, I’ve noted this. Expect Apple Pencil support in most of these, but do take a look at the developer’s websites to verify you get the tools you need.
iPad, iPhone, available at Mac App Store as an iOS app.
InVision is a powerful and fully featured solution custom-built to support brainstorming and digital product design. It offers numerous tools in addition to standard digital whiteboarding, including the capacity to present and mirror files on any device and collaboration.
All users can add text and upload files (including Photoshop and Sketch files), add shapes, and more. There is a presentation mode in which one person can make their point. The tool integrates with industry standard solutions including Slack, Photoshop, Sketch and Teams. It's free for up to three users, otherwise $7.95/user/month. Enterprise plans are available.
Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Web.
With a range powerful drawing tools, a plethora of templates, and rich integration with third-party apps via the Miro Maketplace, Miro is as useful for classic brainstorming at it should be for the creation of high-quality whiteboarding, brainstorming and presentations across an infinite canvas. You can invite collaborators using email or Slack, and chat in real time or asynchronously with collaborators from within the app (for a $10/month fee).
Miro boasts more than 10 million users and is used across some of the world’s biggest companies. Prices range from free to $16/month per user.
iOS, available at Mac App Store.
IPEVO Annotator is a well-featured interactive whiteboarding tool. It includes drawing, pen, shape, and stamp tools, along with useful editing tools and the capacity to let two users work together at once. It comes into its own as a tool for document presentation and real-time mark up, though there’s no test entry, which is a drag if using a mouse.
This solution is a really useful tool to develop ideas and work together on documentation. It’s also free.
iPad/iOS, Android, Chromebook, Web app
As allegedly used at Apple (so why no support for M1 Macs?), Explain Everything is a powerful whiteboard solution designed for both offline and online use. It provides tools to draw, present, and animate your ideas; lets you connect and collaborate with others on almost any device in real-time and asynchronously; and lets you record sessions as shareable videos.
The tool is free for up to three projects ; paid plans start at $6.99/month.
A collaborative whiteboard that lets you work on projects with others via your Apple device, Inko is a lightweight, yet well-featured, app that's one of the best for brainstorming, creative projects, or to add an interactive element to an online meeting. For a fee, you can collaborate remotely ($3.99/month) or over the LAN ($1.99/month), and host up to eight participants in your encrypted collaboration sessions.
Drawings are sharp and drawing is fast, thanks to the use of Metal, and there is a virtual pointer tool to help point things out.
iPad, iOS, Mac.
More than a whiteboard, GoodNotes is a powerful note-taking solution that includes shareable notes and documents. It also offers handwriting recognition, which means notes written using your Apple Pencil become as searchable as anything else. You’ll also find PDF and PowerPoint annotation tools, a nested folder-based file system, and a range of additional tools designed to make GoodNotes a powerful project workbook and compatibility solution.
ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard
Available for iPad and at Mac App Store.
ShowMe is a simple and free whiteboarding solution that lets you create, record, and share whiteboard tutorials. It’s quite limited in what it can do in comparison to other apps in this collection, but does provide a simple, low-cost whiteboard to supplement a Zoom meeting or FaceTime chat. There’s also a fairly costly (for what you get) collection of in-app purchases, including ShowMe Premium ($79.99), which lets you upload more content and share items across closed study groups.
Please let me know how you fare with these solutions, and if you think I’ve missed a particularly good offering that delivers both iPad and Mac support, drop me a line.
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