First look: Carbo — handwriting in the digital age

Carbo sounds like a diet or nutrition app, but Creaceed’s new offering bridges paper-based capture and digital manipulation of your ideas. Some apps use a stylus (or finger) to write on a tablet. But writing on a sheet of glass is much less satisfying than using a quality notebook and pen. Carbo focuses on capturing, editing, organizing and sharing notes from paper or a whiteboard. It lets you keep using your favorite analog tools and digitize the content for sharing or use in other digital tools.

Scan handwritten notes with Carbo

Scan, edit and stylize handwritten notes with Carbo

Capturing

Image capture works well but Carbo has a way to go to match the simplicity of Scannable for fast and easy capture. If automatic page detection doesn’t create the result you were looking for, changes are quick and easy with the cropping tool.

Editing

Once you’ve got your notes down on paper, just launch Carbo and use the app to capture an image of the page. The small palette of editing tools are intuitive and work well even on an iPhone screen. They include:

  • an eraser to remove unwanted parts of the note.
  • a laso to select parts of the image. The selection can be moved, resized, rotated or deleted.
  • a stroke tool to change the line weight.

Storing and sharing

You can add a description and apply tags to each note. Both descriptions and tags are searchable to help you find notes as your collection grows. Notes can be saved locally or to iCloud, Dropbox or Evernote.

Styles apply effects like chalkboard or blueprint as you export the note. I like this idea, but the current style set is limited. I can only see myself using one or two of the existing options. Support for transparent backgrounds may prove useful for including diagrams into presentations or for importing into other photo editing tools.

Carbo interfaces with the usual iOS share extensions including AirDrop, Evernote, Messages, Mail, and social networking services.

Use cases

Carbo works best for single page diagrams or drawings. Each image is a single document, so you can’t create multi-page documents like Scannable can. There is no way to combine sections from different notes on a new canvas, but this could be done by importing into other editors. I’m sure Sketchnoting fans will find many uses for Carbo.

The trailer video overviews Carbo’s main features:

Summary

For a version 1.0 product, Carbo looks solid. There is room to streamline the image capture process, but the editing tools are excellent. I love the idea of export styles, but few of the existing options appeal to me. I’m not sure whether Carbo will find a permanent place in my workflow, but even after a few days of use it’s showing promise. I’m looking forward to watching the product evolve.

  • Product: Carbo — handwriting in the digital age
  • Platform: Universal app for iOS 8 or higher. Not available for other mobile operating systems at present.
  • Price: US$3.99 for a limited time (regular price US$7.99).
  • Recommendation: Carbo is worth a look if you prefer taking notes on paper but need to digitize them for storage or sharing with others. It works particularly well for single page diagrams.

Disclosure: The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I purchased this product and have no relationship with Creaceed.

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2 Responses

  1. Susan Theus says:

    John – When I went to apps on my iphone the price was 7.99 and not 3.99 — how do I get the lower price?

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