Annotate images on iOS like a Pro

How to annotate images on iOS

As part of what I do for the NoStylus website I need to show screenshots of applications. I used to do this on the Mac using the application Sketch. With having nearly 2 weeks of using just the iPhone and iPad I needed an application to annotate images on iOS. Let’s look at Annotable.

What do we need an annotation application to do

  • Adding arrows to point to specific areas in the image.
  • Add text for titles and explanations.
  • Blurring or pixelating of areas.
  • A way to highlight an area.
  • A choice of colours and sizes.
  • Free drawing capability.
  • Shapes and lines.
  • Magnifying loupe.

After the Crop

During the two weeks of using iOS and being iOS champion I didn’t have these capabilities in an application. All I was doing was to take screenshots and to do a little bit of cropping. I like to take the top menu away from the screenshot to tidy it up. Occasionally I didn’t want the whole image, I only wanted a part of it. Handy in Blogo to crop images when you put them on the page. Yesterday I saw a tweet from Federico @Viticci with a recommendation for application called Annotable. It was a little bit late for my iOS warrior experiment, but at least I have it now and can get a lot of use out of it. The price of the application was €7.99 although there is a free option. This allows you to give the application a good proper try with the basic tools. You can either upgrade with in app purchases on a colour by colour or tool by tool basis or upgrade the whole thing. I went for the complete package and I’m very happy with what the app can do.

annotate images on iOS

Using Annotable for annotations on iOS

The first thing to do so you can annotate images on iOS is to allow the application to access your Photos Library. You can then get access to any screenshots or photos to do your annotations. In the bottom left-hand corner you have your choice of eight colours. For this sort of work eight colours is sufficient, all you need is to have a colour which is in contrast to the background on which it’s going. Over on the bottom right-hand corner is your toolbox. Here you have a choice of seven tools.

iOS annotation tools in Annotable

  • Highlight for a rectangular area
  • Pixelation tool
  • Text tool
  • Straight-line tool
  • Arrows
  • Shape creator
  • Magnification loupe

Highlight it

The first tool gives you a rectangular area as a highlighted part of the image. The rest of the image is made partly opaque. This is handy when you want to show the whole of the image but bring specific attention to one area. After you’ve placed your rectangle you can use the corner dots to change the size. You can also move the rectangle to another place in the image if you want to. The only other option is to delete the rectangle.

Pixelate and hide private info

When you’re using Annotable to annotate images on iOS there are times when you need to hide something within the image. Without this application I would resort to using Pixelmator for iPad and use the blur tool. With Annotable it’s easy to create rectangular areas and whatever is underneath is obscured by pixelation. It is possible to change the size of the pixels and the shape of the pixels. You either have your regular square pixels, distorted squares or hexagons. It doesn’t really matter which one you use. You’re only affecting the look and whatever is underneath remains hidden whichever you use.

Annotable Text Tool

Tap on the screen where you want the text to appear. The text is inside a rectangle which does not have a background colour. Choose a colour of text which allows it to show up on the background of the image. You may need to change the size of the text box rectangle. You’ll do this if you need to change it so that the text is all on one line. Other occasions you might want to have the text in a paragraph format. In the centre of the box you’ll see a small blue dot. Drag this blue dot to the outside of the rectangle and you’ll have a pointer line. Put the end of this line next to the part of the image you want to refer to with the text. In the bottom left-hand corner you can choose the size of the text. There’s only two different sizes available. You may also choose to have an outline around the text. With any other colours apart from white you get a white outline. When the text is coloured white, you get a grey outline. This helps the text to stand out from the image.

annotate images on iOS

Straight lines and free drawing

This is one tool split into two and you choose one or the other in the bottom right-hand corner of the application. So when you’re going to annotate images on iOS with either your Apple pencil or your finger you can draw lines with or without an outline. When using the white line with a black outline, the outline is soft like it was a shadow. You get two thicknesses of line to choose from. After you draw a line, same as with any of the other tools you can select it and change the look of it.

Using the shape tool in Annotable

Annotable gives you three different shapes you can draw. You have rectangles, rounded rectangles and circles. You have the same sorts of permutations of colour, outline and thickness as you do with free drawing and straight lines.

Pointing with arrows in Annotable

Annotate images on iOS with arrows. In this application you have two different types of arrow. The simple arrow is just made of lines while the other arrow is a filled in arrow. It’s a better looking arrow when it has the fill and it tapers to the rear of the arrow. You may change the size, colour and outline of your arrows as you annotate images on iOS.

Annotable for iOS review

This is a capable application that in some ways work similar to the way Skitch worked. If you add more than one item onto the picture and they are overlapping you have to start a new item from point that doesn’t overlap. So occasionally you will have to add your annotation and then reposition it. It’s possible to delete any of the items you’ve added to your image using Annotable. There is no function to select all of the items and delete in one go. Neither is there a way to do a marquee select to select some of them. This means that if you want to make changes or a deletion to a selection of annotations you’ll have to do them one at a time. If you want to get rid of all of them, the best thing to do is to close the image and to start again fresh.

Overall, this application gets a big thumbs up from NoStylus. If you do a lot of annotations on iOS it’s well worth having. The ease of pixelating an area and the magnification tool are particularly worthwhile regards spending the money to buy the full application. I’m happy to have Annotable to use on my iPhone and my iPad.