Panda Check-in 4: More search, better iPad keyboard support

Hey there Panda Pals! Our last release had some great new features to test and you answered with some great feedback, so it was just great all around! Great job everyone. No I’m not done saying ‘great.’

This check-in is by the books: We’ll catch up on how the last release went and discuss a couple things we are currently working on.


One focus of our last release was an answer to a longtime feature request: In-note search, especially on iOS. It was a solid start with find-and-replace options and our unique spin on surfacing results within the note. We also snuck in an initial version of OCR search, which means Bear 2 and Panda will be able to search the entire note and inside of images and even PDFs! More on that in a minute.

:arrow_up: An example of Panda returning search results from the note first, then diving into the PDF. Note the spinner in the search box indicating the search is ongoing

The other major addition was a good handful of export tools, which are one of the quiet tentpoles of the Bear experience. Many of the new Editor features in Bear 2 have taken some extra TLC to get right when exporting elements like tables, link previews, and footnotes.

As I said, your feedback on the previous release has been… excellent! We shipped a couple of bugfixes pretty quickly after the initial release, and we’re also working on sharing more export options between macOS and iOS.


Put simply: we’re doubling down on search and spending some time reworking hardware keyboard support for iPad. We have a good start with in-note search, now we’re working on improvements especially for users with large attachments.

Search is pretty fast, but things get complicated when Bear has to dive into attachments like, say, a 1000-page PDF. For situations like this, we’re working on an async search mechanism. This means Bear will return some of the ‘easiest’ results first—basically, text in the note and small attachments—then continue search into larger attachments like the aforementioned PDF. The idea is to avoid a search results traffic jam, of sorts.

:arrow_up: A work-in-progress mockup of the new iPad editing toolbar

As for the iPad keyboard, we’re investigating some new developer tools in iOS that we hope can improve our formatting and editing options on the iPad. The current way our formatting bar stacks on top of Apple’s Predictive keyboard is… ok? But it, too, could be better.

Till next time

This Panda check-in is coming to a close, please set your seats and tray tables to their upright position. Electronics can stay on, though, because we still want to hear your great feedback! We’ll check in again once we get closer to another Panda release.


Thank you for this update! I recently started using Bear on my iPad more often, for focused writing.

One thing I loved about iA Writer is that in focus mode everything disappears, including any ribbons and even the black bar at the bottom (which minimizes app on tap.) I’m wondering if it’s possible for Bear to do the same? Basically I would love a Focus Mode that hides everything. Comparison below (first iA, then Bear):

As for the ribbon, I found that I didn’t love the predictive text so I just turned that off on iPad, and that makes the ribbon in Bear become super big and I can no longer hit “Minimize” on it. (As shown above.) Is that intentional?

If I turn back Predictive, I can use the Minimize function to make the ribbon almost invisible. But I have to do that each time I start typing. As shown below:


We’re exploring a focus mode, but it might not be in the cards for Bear 2.0 on launch. But we hear you on this one.

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to me, focus mode is a nice to have. [[automatic backlinks]] feature and [[auto link update]] are the two must have features for quick deployment in order to keep up the competitive edge of Bear Notes

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We hear the enthusiasm for these features and they’re a great idea, so they are in the works. We also have a wide variety of feature requests from customers in all walks of life, so it’s a delicate balancing act.


@David and Co. this is great! I love the .pdf features. As I’m sure you know, there is simply so much work (law, medicine, academia, management, hr…) out there that still relies on PDFs. Being able to store, organize, and search PDFs as a part one note system in Bear will be so good.

Once PDF search and PDF markup/highlighting is added (I’ll make a new card for for the markup/highlighting feature request) are added, Bear will have the power of Evernote’s capture and organization, the beauty of Things 3’s detail and focus, and the writing capabilities of Ulysses. Love it!


The Panda beta expired?

Technically it’s an alpha right now. You can download the latest Mac version from our alpha site. It checks for updates on its own, but you can also manually check from the Panda menu. If you were on the iOS alpha, check the TestFlight app for the latest version.

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Thank you. Saw it on the site later.

Like @daretorant also noted, the iPad’s prediction bar visibility depends on users language and keyboard settings. If you’re planning to add even more formatting buttons into the prediction bar itself, I hope you realize that if a user uses a language that doesn’t have prediction support, the bar will appear minimized, and you have to tap it to show the Bear buttons every time.

Also, user can disable the whole prediction bar via hardware keyboard settings (there’s an option called Shortcuts), and then you lose even the minimized version of the bar, and you have no way of accessing the Bear formatting buttons. I use my iPad this way as I don’t want extra bars on my screen while using hardware keyboard, and the floating bar is very janky in most apps, blocks UI buttons like send buttons in most messaging apps etc.