In college I wanted to take notes digitally, so I bought a Lenovo Tablet PC and used Microsoft OneNote. It worked, but it was clunky, only got a few hours of battery life, and neither Windows or OneNote was designed to be used with anything other than a mouse. When I graduated in 2011, I started working on a note-taking app for the modern tablet.

What it does

Squid is a powerful, intuitive, and delightful note-taking app. You can take handwritten notes just like you would on paper, but with many advantages of digital vector ink! Easily markup PDFs to fill out forms, edit/grade papers, take lecture notes, or sign documents. Write on infinite paper and never have to worry about running out of space. Import images, draw shapes, and add typed text to your notes.

Since Squid is vector based, notes look great at any zoom level and on any device. You can erase entire letters and words quickly with the stroke eraser, or just parts with the true eraser. Squid takes special advantage of active pens to provide natural, pressure sensitive handwriting. In addition, you can simply write with the pen and erase with your finger!

Did you write or draw something and wish you had placed it somewhere else on the page? No problem! Quickly select anything on the page and move, resize, or even change the ink color or thickness after you’ve written it. You can even copy and paste content between pages and notes. No need to draw that table again!

Are you a teacher, conference presenter, or project manager? Turn your device into a virtual whiteboard or give a presentation by wirelessly casting a note to a TV/projector (e.g. using Chromecast, Miracast). A presented note only displays the page content, no tools, notifications, or “chrome” get in the way.

Ready to share a note with others? Simply export it as a PDF or images and share it via email, Dropbox, Evernote, etc. A note exported as a PDF retains all its vector ink, so it continues to look great on any device!

Key features

  • Take notes naturally with a pen and erase with your finger on active pen enabled devices (e.g. Galaxy Note devices with S Pen)
  • Take notes with your finger or passive stylus on non-active pen devices (e.g. Nexus 7)
  • Vector graphics engine
  • Multiple paper types (e.g. blank, ruled, graph) and sizes (e.g. infinite, letter, A4)
  • Import a PDF as a note or insert a PDF into a note
  • Various tools for rich note-taking and markup (pen, highlighter, eraser, shapes, text)
  • Undo/redo, select, move, and resize
  • Change the color and weight of selected items
  • Cut, copy, and paste items between notes
  • Two finger scroll and pinch-to-zoom
  • Two finger double tap to quickly jump to a specific zoom level
  • Organize notes within notebooks
  • Sort notes and notebooks
  • Import, crop, and resize images
  • Export notes to PDF, PNG, or JPEG for printing, archiving, or sharing
  • Share notes with friends and colleagues via email, Evernote, etc.
  • Backup/restore and export notes as PDFs to cloud storage providers Dropbox and Box
  • Samsung Multi-Window support
  • Shortcuts to create a new note or open a notebook
  • Present notes on a secondary display (Android 4.2+)
  • Present notes to a Chromecast (Android 4.4+)

How we built it

Built from the ground up, we wanted to create a note-taking app that’s as simple to use as pen and paper. At the same time, we wanted to use technology to do things you just can’t do with physical paper. We leveraged Android and its capabilities to create Squid, taking special advantage of the active pen support in the platform. We are passionate about note taking and excited about the possibilities of an inking standard through WILL. We’ve leveraged the WILL SDK to allow users to import WILL files as notes, bringing ink from other applications into Squid.

Challenges we ran into

Using the WILL SDK to read from a WILL file was fairly simple, however interpreting the data was the hardest challenge. It was difficult to understand the relationship between sections, views, and groups. In addition, there is no clear indication of units and how transforms are applied to various elements. In Squid, we record everything using real world units such as centimeters. This allows us to guarantee that a note will be accurately rendered at the exact same size on every device, no matter the screen size or density. At this time, it doesn’t appear that WILL supports this same functionality, so we found it difficult to represent imported WILL ink accurately.

Accomplishments that we’re proud of

Squid has been downloaded through Google Play over 1.5 million times. Squid has also been featured in various app stores numerous times. We have an ever growing community of users who love using Squid!

What's next for Squid

While Squid is already a very featureful app, there’s still plenty more we would love to do! Whether it’s syncing notes between devices, providing a larger repository of paper backgrounds, or searching through your handwritten notes. We are passionate about note-taking, inking, and providing tools that utilize technology to increase productivity and learning.

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