Goodnotes’ biggest update in four years brings AI-powered handwriting features and a digital marketplace


Image Credits: GoodNotes

Goodnotes is releasing a new version with features like AI-powered handwriting recognition, a marketplace for digital stationery, and an educational module for maths in the popular note-taking app’s biggest push in four years to win and retain customers.

The app, launched by Steven Chan in 2011, said the new version, Goodnotes 6, has put immense effort to enhance support for Apple Pencil. While Goodnotes 5 already had a nifty handwriting-recognition feature, the new version supports spellcheck as well. This means that if you make a mistake while writing, the app can suggest a correction and even rewrite the word in your own handwriting.

The app maker said it has worked closely with Apple to take advantage of the neural engine, available in devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, to enhance handwriting recognition. Currently, the handwriting spellcheck feature supports English, Spanish, German and Dutch.

GoodNotes now offers spellcheck for handwriting
Image Credits: Goodnotes

Goodnotes is also introducing an experimental word autocomplete feature for handwriting in English. After users write a minimum of three characters, the app will suggest potential word completions. In an interview with TechCrunch, Chan said the company aims to offer full word prediction in the future.

The latest version also introduced gesture-based actions such as “scribble to erase” and “circle to Lasso.” Additionally, Goodnotes 6 unveils a new library view, allowing users to customize folders, introduces dynamic notebook templates and better audio recording support.

While the app is available for free, it comes with constraints: Users can only access three notebooks and a limited set of features. To gain full access, users will have to opt for an annual subscription at $9.99 or make a one-time payment of $29.99.

Chan noted that while Goodnotes has been known as an iPad app — it won an Apple award for iPad app of the year in 2022 — the company is improving its typing experience across the board. The app also introduces AI-driven writing features, enabling users to extend or condense text, modify its tone, or paraphrase content.

The app’s founder said that the company is using an AI model that is safe for all ages, given Goodnotes is used by a lot of students. While the company didn’t mention the specific model powering the AI typing feature, Goodnotes confirmed that it is not using OpenAI’s tech.

GoodNotes now has AI prompts for typing — but it is not using OpenAI's tech
Image Credits: Screenshot by TechCrunch

Thursday’s launch is also illustrative of how Goodnotes is attempting to diversify its revenue streams beyond subscriptions. To that end, it has rolled out a new marketplace for digital stationery such as stickers, subject-specific revision notes, planners and various paper and card templates. Goodnotes 6 will offer some of these items for free to subscribers, but other items will be available as via in-app purchases.

Currently, the company has teamed up with several creators — and is looking to expand and invite more — to curate an inaugural collection of digital stationery for the launch. The company told TechCrunch that while it will levy a fee on creators, the specifics vary. The arrangements range from charging a royalty fee to outright purchasing the inventory. As of now, Goodnotes isn’t considering adopting an App Store–like commission system for its in-app transactions.

GoodNotes 6 has a marketplace for digital stationary
Image Credits: Goodnotes

Goodnotes is branching out to appease the educational sector by rolling out modules tailored for students. This includes SAT Math practice courses and English and Chinese courses tailored for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE). The company has developed an AI-driven math assistant that can recognize handwritten math equations and guide students through challenges, ensuring it provides help without directly revealing the answers.

To be sure, other players in the education market such as Khan Academy and Byju’s have been experimenting with AI models to help students.

Goodnotes has only raised money once — a $6 million seed round from Race Capital in 2020. As of now, it has no immediate plans to raise more capital. The primary focus for Goodnotes is to refine its educational features, Chan said. However, the company is also milling developing features to make the product more attractive for enterprise customers with document management needs, a move that would put it against businesses such as Notion.

Chan added that Goodnotes is currently home to more than 200 employees, and over 21 million people are using the app monthly.

Although Goodnotes has been a staple on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS platforms for some time, the company is now exploring versions for Android and Windows. Chan said he wants Goodnotes to ensure a seamless experience across multiple platforms eventually.

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