FiftyThree has announced a new set of tools for their iPad app Paper, called Think Kit. Think Kit makes it easier for users to make presentations, and drawing up diagrams, flow charts and concept maps using Pencil, the company’s special stylus.
Gone are the days of messy shapes and squiggly lines. When you draw out a diagram using Paper, the app automatically straightens your lines and shapes using geometry-detecting algorithms. Instead of choosing pre-configured shapes from a list, you just draw them out naturally. Georg Petschnigg, who is a co-founder of FiftyThree, told Wired how the technology works. As he talked, he sketched out a diagram to show off the app’s capabilities. “This is probably the first time you’re seeing someone create at the speed of a conversation,” he said.
Petschnigg has a storied background. Originally he work on Microsoft Office for several years, and he helped developer Microsoft’s early tablet concept called Courier, which was eventually scrapped. He brought his knowledge and expertise of drawing software to FiftyThree for the app Paper, which is loosely based on the Courier tablet.
A very ingenious use of the geometry-detecting algorithms is their capability of changing the rate of correction depending on your speed. If you draw shapes and diagrams quickly, it will straighten things dramatically, but if you’re drawing slowly, it will assume you’re being careful and deliberate and won’t correct you as much. Other tools include cutting things and moving them to a different spot on the screen, filling shapes will color and drawing arrows between shapes in a flow chart. The app also has the capability of distinguishing between a square and a sloppy capital D for example, and lets you sketch and write fluidly without changing tools.
Will this shake up the business industry? It’s hard to say, as Petschnigg remarks how “white boards are a multi-billion dollar business.” Not all business use iPads exclusively either. Microsoft has proven that it understands the enterprise market, and has focused some of its efforts there with the Surface Pro tablet and Office software.
Over the past year or two, FiftyThree and Apple have gotten close, with FiftyThree having the opportunity of selling their Pencil styli directly in Apple stores. With the introduction of this new tool set specifically geared towards business users, does this hint at a future device popularly called iPad Pro? Rumors suggest it will have a bigger, possibly twelve-inch screen, with a stylus and maybe even a typing Smart Cover. If so, Apple will be late to the game, as Google will be announcing more Android For Work options and Microsoft has the Surface Pro as previously mentioned.