There are some nice free Digital Whiteboards apps available for the iPad. Free rocks.
I found myself wondering how the iPad might work as a Digital Whiteboard, to project, as well as to use collaboratively. I also wondered if there might be some free apps that provide this kind of functionality (there are so many decent free apps for the iPad).
First step, hit the App Store and search for “whiteboard”. I narrowed the search down by selecting Price = “Free” and Customer Rating = “4+ Stars” and found 8 apps. I downloaded each one and spent a little time with them. Four of these apps were pretty cool and definitely worth sharing. The others had drawbacks that led me to eliminate them from further consideration.
Four recommended free digitial white board apps:
This TechSmith app was rated (an average of) 4.5 by hundreds of users. ScreenChomp provides 9 colors but just one pen size. You can import pictures to use as your background. Mostly importantly, you can record your whiteboard session for play back, and the recording will include audio. Recordings can be saved to the ScreenChomps app, and can be shared via email, Facebook, Twitter, and accessed through a URL.
This app is a great example of combining a few simple features to make a tool that is very useful. Here’s an example ScreenChomp video I created: http://www.screenchomp.com/t/Z2xnmkfS.
ZigZag Board had one unique offering among the free tools I looked at, which is the ability to select and resize things you draw (as well as move or delete them). It is similar to some of the other apps in that it has a small selection of pen colors and the ability to adjust the thickness of the pen (but no ability to pull a pic to draw on). ZigZag also allows users to have a ”meeting” with the app. The meeting functionality was easy to use – I started a meeting from the iPad app and then joined on my laptop, but I was only able to view the whiteboard session there, I could not actually participate in it (not sure if this works differently when you join from an iPad, we had a network issue and couldn’t connect from another iPad).
Unlike most of these other tools, Zig Zag requires the user to create an account. Once you sign up, there’s a nice page-by-page tutorial on how to use the drawing tools and how multi-touch gestures work within the app.
SyncSpace allows for a choice of 9 colors, 4 pen thicknesses, and 2 pen styles (solid or dashed), which was more than the other apps provided. Two unique features the app has are its ability to scale the screen to any size (it seems that you can shrink or expand your whiteboard indefinitely), and its synchronize capability, which allows for true collaboration. My son and I tried this and it was easy and worked well. You can also export files as PDFs, post them to Facebook, Twitter, or Campfire (a collaboration app), or email a link to other iPad users.
One down side of SyncSpace is that it did not work in landscape (horizontal) mode, making it a little less ideal for projecting.
The Free version of Jot has a pretty nice set of functionality including: 4 colors and 4 pen sizes, the ability to move a drawing and to add a background, and to add text. You share your drawings via email or save them as a photo. There’s a premium app available for $4.99 that provides more colors, more line widths, 5 fonts to select from, and live sharing.
The other four apps shown in the search results I eliminated for the following reasons:
Show Me Interactive Whiteboard: Show Me seemed like ScreenChomp without the audio recording capability.
Doceri Remote: Required the installation of an additional application in order to use it, and it appeared that I would probably have to pay that app at some point.
Sign+: This should not have been in the list as it for creating a “digital sign”, and does not have the interactive nature of a true digital whiteboard.
SMART Bridgit Conferfence: This requires you to have a SMART board and applicable server in place.
Connecting the iPad to a projector or HD TV
This seems pretty straightforward if you have the right components. I can’t wait to try this, and I’ll be sure to share my results here.
You will need the Apple Digital AV Adapter ($39) and an HDMI Cable (under $10).
Your projector or TV will have to have an HDMI interface.
This eHow article explains the basic process of connecting your iPad to your projector.
If any readers have experience doing this, using these or similar apps, please tell us about it. I’m sure there are other decent free IWB-type apps for the iPad2 that I could have found by searching on different words or phrases, so if you know of any, please drop a comment and let us know about them. As always, questions or other comments are also welcomed!