The 9 Best Apps For Apple Pencil

Use that pencil in ways you never imagined

Photo of iPad open to Apple Pages document with heading
Excellent apps to try with your Apple Pencil.

Plenty of creative apps work with the Apple Pencil, but you don’t have to be an artist, musician, or designer to use them. Here are some of the best apps for Apple Pencil many people might enjoy and use.

Screenshot of Cardflow+ showing 5 index cards on a green background, with writing on each card
Cardflow puts digital index cards and ink on your iPad.

 

Cardflow gives you index cards on your iPad. Tap twice to add a new card, then write or draw whatever you like; tap the flip card icon to write on the back, or arrange the cards on a board in whatever layout you need.

Upgrade to Cardflow+ for $9.99 to add access to colors, a shape recognizer (which can turn an awkward oval into a perfect circle, for example), and advanced card grouping options, among other features.

Cardflow works well for brainstorming ideas, mind-mapping, storyboarding, and study notes.

What we like:

  • Scribbling on index cards without any risk of ink smudges or stains.

What we don’t like:

  • Cards always appear with landscape orientation, and you can’t rotate cards vertically to portrait position.
Screenshot of iFontMaker with letter A displayed, along with a preview of the word
Create a custom, hand-drawn font with iFontMaker on your iPad.

If you’ve ever wanted to create a font with your own handwriting, take a look at iFontMaker for $7.99. Draw the shape of each letter with your Apple Pencil, then adjust each corner, line, or curve. Repeat the process for every letter of the alphabet, every number, and punctuation symbols to create your own font on your iPad. When you’re done, export your font to use it on your iPad, computer, or even on a website.

What we like:

  • Draw each letter exactly as you wish it to look.

What we don’t like:

  • You’ll need to create hundreds of characters with care if you want a complete, well-designed font.
Screenshot from Felt app, showing list of card categories, along with a Thanks card and Happy Birthday card
Personalize and send greeting cards with your writing in the Felt app.

Choose from hundreds of greeting cards, then customize your card with a handwritten message or drawing. All cards are 4-inches wide by 4.5-inches tall. If you like, you can add additional pages, on which you can write and/or add photos.

Add an address and pay to have the card sent; cards start at $3, with upgrades available to add more pages or gifts, such as flowers, framed prints, or funds. Or, subscribe to send 3 cards each month for $5.

What we like:

  • No need to lick an envelope or stamp when you want to send a personalized card.

What we don’t like:

  • If you want a card in a shape other than a 4-inch by 4.5-inch rectangle, look elsewhere.
Screenshot of AudioNote 2 app, showing arrow point at Record button
Take notes and record audio as you write.

Write notes while you record audio. Separately, each of those things make perfect sense, and with AudioNote 2 you can use the Apple Pencil to write or draw to document a meeting or lecture. The audio recorder also lets you play a recording later to hear what was said.

In AudioNote 2, your notes and the recording are linked. Tap on a word or drawing, and the app will play the sounds recorded at the time you made your notes. Use the free version with ads, or pay $9.99 per year for an AudioNote 2 Pro subscription, which removes ads, improves audio recording quality, and lets you add time-of-day timestamps to your notes.

What we like:

  • It’s almost like magic to tap what you wrote and hear the sound you recorded from that moment.

What we don’t like:

  • The app sometimes quits unexpectedly.
Animated GIF of Blek: Apple Pencil swipes to the right to get gesture line moving, touch colored circles, and complete the level.
Draw a pattern that repeats and touches colored dots in Blek.

Each level of Blek ($2.99) provides you with a puzzle: Draw a line that touches every target on the screen. You can’t simply create one long line through things; instead, you’ll draw a line that moves and repeats whatever pattern you create.

Your line also has to avoid the black circles, and it can’t go off the top or bottom of the screen. While you can play with nothing more than your finger and your wits, Blek also works exceptionally well with the Apple Pencil.

What we like:

  • An abstract, engaging, motion/pattern puzzle game.

What we don’t like:

  • Getting stuck on levels that later seem quite simple.
Animated GIF that shows Apple Pencil tap in Pages, then adding a drawing (writing the word
Tap with the Apple Pencil to add a drawing in Pages, Numbers, or Keynote.

As an iPad owner, you can use Apple’s word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, respectively) for free. In March 2018, Apple added support for the Apple Pencil to these apps, enabling you to grab your Apple Pencil and add drawings in each of these apps. In Pages, you can insert annotations, too, meaning you can write comments or add a note next to the text. Your handwritten notes remain with the text as you edit your document.

What we like:

  • Draw within the Pages, Numbers, or Keynote apps without switching to another app.

What we don’t like:

  • As of August 2018, smart annotations that links a drawn note to text is available only in Pages.
Animated GIF shows one person highlighting a graph, while another writes the word
Several people can draw together with Inko, a collaborative whiteboard.

Inko lets several people draw together at once. Connected to Wi-Fi, up to 12 people can collaboratively draw; without Wi-Fi, up to 8 can work together. With 12 colors and 3 different line types, Inko makes it easy to create images that look like conference room whiteboard scribbling.

You can draw as much as you like by yourself, but to collaborate with others, Inko requires payment. A one-time payment of $19.99 allows you unlimited access to drawing with other people who have similarly paid. Or, a “hero plan” subscription ($14.99 per month; $99.99 per year) lets you host a board and draw together with people who haven’t purchased or subscribed. A free Apple TV app displays your board as you draw.

What we like:

  • A collaborative whiteboard you can use to draw together, anywhere.

What we don’t like:

  • The price may make Inko more likely to be purchased for work instead of personal use.
Animated GIF showing a ball bouncing across three comic-panel style frames, then falling to the bottom of the screen
Quickly create hand-drawn video or GIF animations with Animatic.

Remember flipbooks? Those books with an illustration that changes just a bit on each page, so that when you flip the pages quickly, the images appear to move? Animatic lets you draw that style of animation.

Draw your first frame, then the app shows a ghost-like image so you can decide how much of a difference you want to draw between images. A $9.99 per year Pro subscription gives you more control over how long each frame displays and a better quality export.

What we like:

  • With a few quick sketches, you can create your own short animation.

What we don’t like:

  • A limited number of colors available to use.
Screenshot of Affinity Designer with HELP icons displayed next to each feature on the screen.
Tap the question mark in the lower right corner in Affinity Designer to identify icons.

For people who are serious about using an iPad for illustration, Affinity Designer ($19.99) delivers an app with both vector and raster tools.

Raster tools offer familiar pens, pencils, chalks, markers, inks, oils, acrylics, and more; vector tools let you create images with lines, shapes, and colors that you can scale to any size.

With both sets of tools, you have access to every professional-level editing tool you might expect.

What we like:

  • A one-time purchase for a powerful iPad illustration app; no subscription required.

What we don’t like:

  • It'll take some time learning how to use every ​tool packed into Affinity Designer.