Why Evernote Bought the Best iPad Handwriting App

After closing a $70 million deal last week, Evernote announced today that it has acquired the handwriting app Penultimate, the fourth-best-selling iPad app of all time. Penultimate fans don't have to worry; when Evernote buys apps, they stick around. Evernote lovers should be excited to add this one to the family. Here's why.

Penultimate creator Ben Zotto will lead a team implementing digital handwriting into other Evernote products. As for Penultimate itself, Zotto says that we'll "also start seeing Penultimate (finally!) on other devices." From both sides of the table, this sounds like a mutually beneficial arrangement.

It Is Written

The most powerful features of Evernote are its abilities to help you retrieve your stuff, no matter what format you stored it in. If you take a photo of a piece of paper, Evernote will scan the characters on it and let you find the image in search. With Penultimate on board, now you'll be able to write directly on your iPad screen and get full-text search of your notes via Evernote.

Some of Evernote's core team members have been working on digital handwriting since they were on the Apple Newton team. They wrote the CalliGrapher handwriting recognition engine. And now that Apple has gotten the tablet right with the iPad, this same team gets to integrate the most popular handwriting app on the platform into Evernote's already powerful digital desk.

Related: 10 Tips for Using Evernote Effectively

It Went Well For Skitch

If you need an example of what happens when Evernote buys a beloved app, just look at last year's acquisition of Skitch. Skitch was a Mac app for taking and annotating screenshots. On the day Evernote bought it, it announced iPhone, iPad and Android versions that totally retain the character of Skitch today. They just also happen to have seamless Evernote integration.

Penultimate already had saving to Evernote (as well as Dropbox), so current users of Penultimate with Evernote can look forward to even tighter integration. Furthermore, as Zotto himself suggests, we can look forward to Penultimate apps for other devices, just like Skitch announced after Evernote acquired it.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Penultimate is $0.99 on the App Store.

Correction: This article originally stated that Evernote can transcribe audio notes. That was just wishful thinking.