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Evernote acquires handwriting app Penultimate

You could already sketch notes or diagrams and save them to Evernote with this app. Acquisition by Evernote will mean tighter integration, more platform support.

Evernote has acquired the handwriting and drawing app Penultimate. Cocoa Box Design

Hot on the heels of raising a $70 million funding round, the popular note-taking service Evernote is announcing today that it has acquired Cocoa Box Design, publishers of the iPad handwriting app, Penultimate.

The Penultimate note-taking app currently has integration into Evernote: You can send pages you create in the app to a linked Evernote account. It integrates with Dropbox the same way.

Evernote CEO Phil Libin told me the app won't be changed substantially, though integration into Evernote will be made tighter. "The important thing is to not break it," Libin says. Evernote will, however, put more resources into the app and port it to additional platforms.

Handwriting was at the heart of Evernote in the beginning, Libin told me. But over time, the product shifted to being more text-based. "We had handwriting in a very early Windows version," he says, "but we neglected it. I neglected it." Libin says the iPad changed everything. "I didn't anticipate the iPad or how beautiful you could make an app like Penultimate."

He says Evernote's character-recognition technology will allow Penultimate notes to be searchable in Evernote data stores. "We have the back-end technology that's great for handwriting but we've never expressed it this way."

Libin points to Evernote's acquisition of the Mac app Skitch in August of 2011 to show how the company hopes to absorb the new app. Skitch is still a separate product but now has an easy way to push images into Evernote. The iPad and Android versions are even more tightly integrated.

More features, and possibly acquisitions, are coming to pipe content into Evernote. The company also recently acquired Minds Momentum, which makes the to-do list app Egretlist. It will be the basis for an Evernote to-do list manager later this year, Libin says.

Terms of the sale of Cocoa Box are not being disclosed, but Penultimate founder Ben Zotto is already working out of the Evernote office in Mountain View, Calif. Here's a quick talk with him about the acquisition:

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