App review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2015
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Read, write, and draw with slick, focused notebook

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English Language Arts, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking
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Pros: Cool features adjust for reading, writing, and note-taking, including adjustments for left-handed writers.

Cons: Some industry-standard features are missing, and it's not always clear how to access some features.

Bottom Line: A solid set of features wrapped with a visually bright design make this note-taking app at least worth a look.

Have students try Whink as a note-taking app for your classroom: Show them how to start a note, and show them how to use the app's home screen as a space for keeping their notes organized. They can long-press and drag related notes on top of each other to create folders for specific units or classes. Use the colorful cover pages as a color-coding tool for notes from related classes or for different kinds of documents, such as class notes or study guides. Consider using Whink as a go-to tool for close reading on your device: Import PDFs and create documents in Whink and highlight and annotate to your heart's content.

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Whink is a note-taking app for the iOS. On the app's home screen, tap the Plus sign at left to create a new document and pick a background (your choices are "plain" white, ruled, or a "checked" grid) and a color scheme. Tap Create and you'll enter the note-taking space, where you'll see an automatically generated cover sheet for your document and you can scroll to enter the main note-taking space. Select Write, Type, or Read to access features for different pens, colors, fonts, highlighters, and other editing features from a menu at the top of the screen. Long-press on the screen to access additional features, such as options to add a digital sticky note, image, or a searchable tag.

Your saved documents appear on the home screen, where you can tap their colorful covers and hold to unlock other features, such as options for exporting documents (as a Whink file or PDF) and grouping documents into folders.

Whink has some nice features, and its simple, streamlined interface might be an attractive fit for teachers and students who want a distraction-free space for reading or writing. The reading mode is especially minimalist: It removes most of the buttons from the screen and limits interactive options -- in a good way. It's also excellent that you can toggle the writing tools for right-handed or left-handed writers and drag a palm rest on screen, both thoughtful, welcome touches that make writing on the touchscreen less cumbersome. This app makes great use of the short tap and the long press for different features; though it isn't always intuitive to figure out how things work, keep tapping and pressing to unlock more tools for grouping your notes and adding tags and post-its.

There are some features that come standard in other writing and note-taking apps that are missing here. For example, you can't import PDF documents into Whink from within the app itself. Instead, you'll have to select the document in another app on the device (such as Mail, Dropbox, or Google Drive) and use the "Open in" pop-up menu to select Whink. It's not hard, but it's another step that can feel cumbersome at first. Two features -- adding audio and drawing shapes -- are only available after an additional $2.99 in-app purchase. Most users can probably do without the shapes, but having the audio feature would be nice, especially since comparable tools such as Notability and Evernote include that feature in the basic download. It's also not entirely clear how to search for tagged documents once you've added tags. More features for collaboration, importing, and sharing would make Whink even better; that being said, this is an attractive, effective note-taking and reading tool, and it's definitely worth trying out.

Overall Rating


The interface is simple and slick, and it's fun to choose themes and color schemes to liven up your notes. 


Nice features for reading, handwriting, and typing (such as lined sheets and graph paper) make for a clear note-taking experience, plus good features for sorting and search make it easy to stay organized.


Text overlays offer some in-app help, and there's a Getting Started guide, but some features (such as how to group documents on the home page) aren't explained.

Common Sense reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

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