With COVID restricting people to homes, leading to work from home becoming the “new normal”, almost every major tech giant and even startups, launched their own versions of digital whiteboards. Intent is to create the feel of a work brainstorming session, and emulate that on a digital platform. Apple too is jumping that bandwagon, announcing ‘Freeform’, its own take on how a digital whiteboard should look like.

Available by default on both iOS 16 and iPad OS, I personally feel that Freeform is more of an evolved version of the already pretty handy ‘Notes’ app. Freeform basically lets users take notes — both handwritten and typed — and share them with colleagues. The sharing can actually also be done via Facetime, similar to how Google allows you to share documents within its Workspace suite, to your colleagues using Google Meet. While you and your teammates are working, you can see each person’s cursor. Changes are reflected in a corresponding group thread in Messages.

The app is pretty much what you would expect a digital whiteboarding app to be. It lets you highlight text, use various color markers for different annotations and lets you share all of that with workmates.

Off late, the digital whiteboarding trend has actually become a lucrative business opportunity. Pre-pandemic, there was Microsoft’s ‘Whiteboard’, Google’s Draw among others. But their usage and focus on these tools by companies, only accelerated recently, during and post pandemic. In fact, Figma has built a company around digital whiteboarding, though providing a much more comprehensive suite of tools — largely aimed at tech teams.

More will unfold about Freeform as iOS 16 releases and the week unfolds at WWDC.