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Freeform app alternatives

7 min read

If you need to express and explain ideas to someone, make a mood board, or plan your next trip, a good old whiteboard is hard to beat. You can use it to pin papers, make notes, highlight text, and more. Now, how about doing that same kind of work virtually? 

You may wonder, “Does Apple have a whiteboard app?” Yes! Recently, the company introduced Freeform, a digital canvas that enables simultaneous collaboration among as many as a hundred users. In this article, however, we cover apps alternative to Freeform so you can take advantage of more advanced features and identify which tools are best suited to your specific needs.

What is Freeform?

As you may already know, Freeform is Apple’s new digital whiteboard app for creatives. It allows you to use your finger or the Apple Pencil (on iPad) to sketch in a variety of different styles. You can even attach text, images, PDFs, links, handwritten notes, and more. 

If you want more info about Apple’s online whiteboard, read our recent blog post. Now, let’s look at Freeform alternatives.

The best Freeform alternatives

Check out the pros and cons and choose the apps that work best for you.

MindNode

Apple’s Freeform is a great tool for brainstorming. So is MindNode. The app can be used to come up with new ideas, visualize complex issues, cluster information, and organize thoughts. 

Once you’ve written down the topic, you can add so-called “nodes” to describe different parts of it. The best thing is that you’ll never run out of space on your virtual canvas, unlike when you are mind mapping with pen and paper. Also, you can easily rearrange the map’s parts by dragging and dropping them, and you can fold the contents of nodes to get a better look at the whole. Everything is easy to read and doesn’t look cluttered or messy. Also, you can add a sticker (MindNode comes with a few) or a custom image to a node, add a note, and even turn a node into a to-do item by adding a checkbox.

MindNode Freeform alternative app

Pros
  • Uncluttered and intuitive design
  • Syncs flawlessly across devices (iPhone, iPad, and MacBook)
  • Focus Mode that lets you get rid of distractions.
Cons
  • Lack of icons and templates
  • No collaboration feature.

Craft

Craft is known as an app for creating visually-appealing documents. You can add photos, videos, text, handwritten snippets, audio, and other file types. Need someone else to look into your doc and make a contribution? No problem. Craft makes it really easy for other people to access your file, understand your idea, and elaborate on it.

What we like the most is that Craft comes with an AI Assistant that can translate texts, suggest titles, explain complicated things in simple words, help you write, and more. 

Craft whiteboard app for macOS and iOS

Pros
  • Attractive design
  • iPhone, iPad, Mac, and web versions
  • Easy to use, with lots of supporting documents 
  • Collaboration feature.
Cons
  • The iPhone app needs better navigation.

Collabio Spaces

If you want something really simple, try Collabio Spaces. The app has a document editor, a spreadsheet tool, and a PDF annotator for both macOS and iOS. Collabio’s interface may look somewhat basic, but that also means it’s not difficult to use it. It’s obvious how to start a new file and how to use a template.

Collabio Spaces

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • macOS and iOS versions
  • Collaboration feature.
Cons
  • Too basic text editor. Not the best option if you want more visual elements.

MarginNote

If you want to use Freeform for studying or work purposes, perhaps MarginNote will work better for you. Students and professionals can use the app’s e-reader to take notes, comprehend them, and review them in a brand-new way using annotations, mind-mapping, and flashcards. For cross-platform note-taking, MarginNote syncs smoothly with iCloud.

The best features are the ability to drag PDF selection, pictures, texts to a mind map, multiple documents linking within one mind map, and auto-creation of mind maps from excerpts and table of contents.

MarginNote

Pros
  • Auto-mindmaps
  • The capacity to convert handwritten notes into mind map nodes or to leave them as standalone notes
  • Syncs flawlessly across devices (iPhone, iPad, and MacBook)
  • Collaboration mode.
Cons
  • You might need to spend some time learning to use the app.

Miro

Another great tool for visualizing concepts/ideas is Miro. This is a platform to connect, collaborate, and create things together. The main difference between Freeform and Miro is that Miro is aimed mostly at businesses, while Apple’s Freeform, at least for now, is focused on the personal/start-up space.

Just like with Freeform, you can use Miro to sketch a concept, either alone or with someone else editing at the same time. With Miro, you can also chat about how you’re working while you’re working or give a talk while showcasing your invention, thanks to the built-in video and audio calling and screen sharing. Whether it’s Asana cards or Vimeo videos, you can display media that has been pulled in from other apps.

Miro

Pros
  • A great voting feature that helps to narrow down the topics
  • Easy to use templates
  • Embedded video, chat, and commenting.
Cons
  • It slows down when many collaborators’ cursors are on
  • It’s a feature-rich platform, and it may be a little bit difficult to figure out how to use it.

Freehand

Freehand is an infinite-canvas online whiteboard that was created to enable everyone – designers, engineers, project managers, and even HR – to collaborate and produce their finest work. Since Freehand combines all the tools you and your team are already using, it serves as the main hub for cross-functional cooperation and end-to-end product development. Run design kickoffs, turn over projects to your engineering team, welcome new team members, and more, all in real-time and asynchronously.

Freehand online whiteboard

Pros
  • Adaptable templates for icebreakers, wireframes, diagrams, and brainstorming
  • Presenter mode to share and explain ideas with others.
Cons
  • Not always intuitive
  • Some integrations, such as Jira, can be slow.

Milanote

Finally, let’s look at Milanote. It’s a great app for creative people to take notes with, but it can do a lot more than that. Milanote lets you take notes in a way that is similar to a scrapbook. You can add images, colors, videos, audio files, arrow diagrams, emojis, and links (with previews of the pages). You can also work together with your team to comment on parts of your collaboration board and edit them at the same time.

When you make a new board, you’ll be asked if you want to use a template that the Milanote team has already made. There are templates for graphic designers, marketers, agencies, and more. 

Milanote

Pros
  • Multiplatform support 
  • Preset templates 
  • Ease of use.
Cons
  • Pricing is too steep.

What is the best whiteboard for team collaboration?

If you want to find a good whiteboard app, we recommend any that’s part of Setapp, a platform for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users. These include Craft, MindNode, Collabio Spaces, and MarginNote. Why Setapp? The software added to the platform is hand-picked and verified, so you only get the best of the best. On top of that, you can find other great apps that will improve your workflow. Currently, Setapp hosts more than 240 apps! Try Setapp for seven days free and discover new tools.

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