10 Things You Can Do With the Freeform App in iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2

Apple with iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 is introducing the Freeform app, which is designed for brainstorming ideas, creating sketches, and collaborating with others on projects. Freeform is basically a blank canvas that you can use for anything.

freeform 1
In this guide, we've highlighted the various tools that you can use with the Freeform app on the iPhone and the iPad.

Shapes

There are hundreds of pre-designed "clip art" shapes that are available in Freeform, across the following categories: Basic, Geometry, Objects, Animals, Food, Nature, Symbols, Education, Arts, Science, People, Places, Activities, Transportation, Work, and Ornaments.

freeform shapes
You can stack multiple shapes on top of one another with layering, change the color, draw over them, resize them with drag and drop gestures, break the component pieces apart and manipulate the design, add various borders, group them together, adjust opacity, and more. There are a huge number of tools for working with shapes for your projects.

Images, Scans, and Documents

The Freeform app supports all kinds of documents. You can add photos and videos directly from your Camera Roll in the Photos app, or take a photo with your ‌iPhone‌ or your ‌iPad‌.

freeform add photos
‌Photos‌ and videos that you add to your project can be resized with drag and drop gestures, cropped, viewed in full, and layered with other images and shapes.

freeform add link
You can scan documents using the ‌iPhone‌ or ‌iPad‌'s camera in either color or black and white, add various documents from iCloud Drive, or add any link from Safari. Links and files are shown in little card-like tiles and can also be rearranged on the canvas with drag and drop gestures and layered over shapes, images, and other files for a visual look at your documents you've added.

Stickies

With the Freeform app you can add digital post-it notes, or Stickies as Apple calls them. The Stickies are basically the same as the Stickies app that is available for Mac. You can change the color of Stickies, choosing from one of seven, and add text.

freeform stickies
On an ‌iPad‌, you can use an Apple Pencil to write directly on one of the Stickies, but if you use typed text, you also have various formatting options available like bold, bullet lists, different font sizes, and more.

Text Insertion

Using the text box, any typed text can be inserted anywhere on the Freeform canvas. Text can be as long or as short as you want, and all of the standard formatting options are available for changing font, color, size, and alignment, as well as adding styles like bolding and underlining.

freeform add text

Drawing Tools

Freeform has the same set of drawing tools that you might be familiar with from Markup. You can draw with a finger on the ‌iPhone‌, or on the ‌iPad‌, with an ‌Apple Pencil‌. There are pens, markers, and crayons to choose from, all with adjustable opacity, color, and line thickness.

freeform writing tools
You can also access an eraser, a select tool for targeted selections of items on your canvas, and a lasso fill tool that fills lines that you draw.

Colors

Freeform has support for a huge range of colors. You can pick a simple color from a grid, choose a color from a spectrum interface, use sliders, or manually type in color hex codes for a specific shade. Favorite colors can be saved to the bottom of the interface, and opacity can be adjusted for any color as well.

freeform colors
An eyedropper tool is available to match any color that's already on the canvas.

Object Movement

Any object in a Freeform document can be quickly rearranged and resized with drag and drop gestures. Tapping provides an interface where you can send an object to the "Back" or the "Front" for layering purposes, but there are no true layers to work with.

freeform object manipulation
Objects can be locked in place, duplicated, and constrained or unconstrained in proportion, useful if you want to change one dimension and not another.

File Management

Freeform boards can be saved as a PDF document or printed out, and they can also be saved to apps like Files and Dropbox. You can also email, text, and otherwise share links to boards with others.

freeform printing

Multiple Boards

You can have multiple Freeform boards, which can be viewed as icons or a list, and sorted in various ways such as by name or date. Groups are available to organize a large number of boards, and there are also separate sections for Recents, Shared, and Favorites.

freeform multiple boards

Collaboration

Freeform has been designed as a collaboration tool, and you can share Freeform boards with other ‌iPhone‌ and ‌iPad‌ users. All Freeform board participants can work on the same board, adding images, texts, links, and more for group brainstorming sessions.

freeform collaboration
Changes made to Freeform boards are synced for all users in real time, though it is worth noting that collaboration has not yet been fully fleshed out during the beta testing process.

Availability and Device Compatibility

Apple's Freeform app is available on the ‌iPhone‌, ‌iPad‌, and Mac. It requires iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2, or macOS Ventura 13.1 to work, and it is a standalone app that will not be available on devices not able to run these updates.

Related Roundups: iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura
Related Forums: iOS 16, macOS Ventura

Top Rated Comments

citysnaps Avatar
3 weeks ago

Might be useful, but advertising a whole OS update with an App that could have been released independently makes it a laughingstock.
Weird.

Since it's not something that interests you, what about it makes you laugh so hard? Being part of iOS is certainly not an issue or problem. And for sure not to get so worked up about.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
citysnaps Avatar
3 weeks ago
Looking forward to using this. Will be a great collaborative tool for people who create.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lostPod Avatar
3 weeks ago

Since, somewhat surprisingly there is no good UX vector tool for the iPad, like Sketch for the Mac, I hope this app works for that purpose
Affinity Designer? Illustrator ?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zachz Avatar
3 weeks ago

Weird.

Since it's not something that interests you, what about it makes you laugh so hard? Being part of iOS is certainly not an issue or problem. And for sure not to get so worked up about.
I don't think they're worked up or laughing hard -- I think they used "laughingstock" because it is silly and subject to ridicule given that they require an entire iOS update to get the app. Some people don't like updating firmware until a while after the release, and given all the bugs as of lately, makes sense to want Freeform but not an entirely new update.

The issue isn't that it is part of iOS but that they didn't just make it an easy download from the App Store on eligible devices. I assume this app won't be used by a vast number of iOS/iPad users so again, just odd that it required an entire update vs. an easy download.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wildkraut Avatar
3 weeks ago
Might be useful, but advertising a whole OS update with an App that could have been released independently makes it a laughingstock.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MuppetGate Avatar
2 weeks ago

Freeform is already ready as…Numbers

Freeform is a redundant application from Apple.
To use Freeform you need the latest beta of IOS, iPadOS and Ventura.
For some of us, due to its availability on only newer Macs, Ventura is unplayable, and neither can Freeform, as it appears to be part of Apple's Core applications.

This makes collaborating on your own document very difficult, let alone with other users.

Unnecessary:

It is a waste of energy and resources to develop this application because:

.Most of it is already in the iWork suite
.The few added features can be better implemented in the iWork suite.
.Many new APIs, made available by Apple, are not used.
.Functionality from Notes is not used.

Because I can't run Ventura I will do the comparison with 2 iPads and my Monterey macOS
I divide the comparison into a number of categories

Startup:
Format Similar to Notes
no tags possible
no sub possible

Options:
1: sticky Notes
No option to start left at the top
No scalable text
Limited number of colors
Editing options less than in Notes and iWork added description not visible with icon or flag.
Only text can be copied to other app, not the sticky note itself, not even as PNG
.multiple selected objects will not become one object in other apps, including iWork or Notes
Don't snap to the selected canvas

2. Shapes
1. No difference with the iWork suite
2. No ability to save custom shapes
3. Some borders around objects are incomplete

3. Text
1. More limited than iWork
2. Attributes are lost when copying to iWork

4. Drawing
1. Largely Similar to iWork
2. No option to make straight square like in Notes

5. Unlimited canvas
1. Also present in Numbers

6. Media
1. Insert files
1. A Lookup is created. Document not being added?
2. Where are the freeform files, how open are they?
2. Scan: Similar to Notes, including text recognition
3. Camera: Similar to Notes and iWork
4. Video: only 4:3 and no 16:9, in iWork yes

7. Choose background
1. Only two options
2. Easy to create in iWork using a template

8. Web version: no web version yet
1. iWork has a stable and well-functioning collaboration mode that has just been improved.
And it works on windows machines, using the iCloud version.

Positive:

1.PDF support
Inserting a PDF document works well. It is shown with Preview.
An option that's easy to add to iWork

Inserting a link: Works faster than in iWork
Easy to add to iWork

Comments:

Insert web video:
Option works much better in iWork, embedded playback
In Freeform it's a link

iWork and especially Numbers is much more extensive, more flexible and with some minor adjustments an excellent alternative.
So what you’re saying is, “This is a waste of time because I can‘t run it on my Mac.”

Which then led to a review where you hunted around for stuff you didn’t like, and ended in a conclusion that you should use iWork because you can run that – on your Mac.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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