​PDF edit app Flexcil eyes cross-device expansion into iPhone and Android

PDF annotation app Flexcil used in the iPad will launch an iPhone version within the year, and an Android version in the first quarter of 2019, backed by its success with the iPad and increased use of the stylus with tablets, the company's co-founder has said.

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Flexcil co-founder & COO Park Ji-hoon gives the lowdown on the start-up's expansion plans.

(Image: Cho Mu-Hyun )

PDF annotation app Flexcil will launch an Android version next year backed by its strong fan base in the iOS sphere and rising demand for education catered apps, its co-founder says.

"Some of our users are asking our launch schedule to decide whether to buy the iPad or an Android device," said Park Ji-hoon, co-founder and COO of Flexcil, in an interview with ZDNet. "I think we have succeeded in building a dedicated fan base and want to meet this demand with expansion to Android as soon as possible."

Flexcil, aiming to become an education solution for academics and students, l aunched in April 2017. It allows PDF files to be uploaded via an app. The user can scribble notes, highlight text using a touch pen or their fingers, and "drag & drop" text to a separate notepad. Users can also use gestures as shortcuts instead of clicking multiple buttons. The aim was to bring out the best in both analogue and digital education settings.

Since that time, it has secured 200,000 users. As of August 18, it had 60,000 monthly active users and is used 60 minutes a day, on average. The app comes in a free version and as well as a $8.99 paid version. It has added templates and backup features, as well as a ruler interface and ability draw a straight line this year.

The biggest coup for the firm followed an offer from Apple to have Flexcil installed on iPads on display in over 500 Apple Stores in 24 countries, which took effect in late March. It was chosen as among Apps We Love on App Store's Promotional App category in China in July.

Stylus use a booster

To challenge iPad dominance, companies like Samsung Electronics and Microsoft are launching tablets as professional tools for content creation, often with a stylus in tow. Samsung recently launched the Galaxy Tab S4 armed with its S-Pen, while the Apple Pencil aimed at those using iPads.

"Tablets have up until now failed to find a clear differentiator between smartphones and laptops, so it has been more of an 'ok' device for content consumption," said Park. "So Apple, Samsung and Microsoft are actively expanding the application of stylus and positioning their tablets as contents creation tools. This will expand the education market, lower its entry barrier and help create an ecosystem. This is a big opportunity for Flexcil," said Park.

As tablets prices drop further, and are deployed more in the education sector, the COO said Flexcil has a ready-made app that can meet the rise in demand.

The company was working with GreenBulb, a start-up which made a price-competitive stylus called SonarPen. The stylus was a hit on Kickstarter and can be used with the iPad via a cable that connects with earphone jack. Flexcil was preparing a UX catered to SonarPen, Park said.

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Flexcil eventually wants to be used on multiple ecosystems so students can be flexible in their study patterns.

(Image: Flexcil)

Expanding cross-platform

"Cross platform is becoming a must so that is our long term goal. When we take a look at the way students interact with devices, they use typing for fast memo in laptops, scribble on note pads and search for compact information on mobile devices," said Park. "We want to evolve to a service that can support students' individual preferences for devices and study patterns."

The company is preparing to launch an iPhone version with support Cloud Sync within the year.

"There are new education services, technology and SDK being introduced. Our plan is to connect our own services and partners through the cloud," said the COO. The company was hopeful that the expansion will allow Flexcil to clinch B2B clients, especially schools.

"Teachers and IT managers at K-12 schools in the US have made inquiries," he said. "This is an area we are interested in."

"We will continue to improve Flexcil so that students can user it easily and if demand rises, we are also considering a lite version."

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