Hands-on with the Apple Pencil for iPad Pro

Yesterday, Apple introduced the Apple Pencil for iPad Pro, a precision input device available for purchase separately for $99, which makes drawing and sketching feel remarkably fluid and natural.

The touch subsystem of the Multi-Touch display in iPad Pro has been redesigned to work with Apple Pencil to dramatically reduce latency and deliver incredible accuracy for activities like fine art illustration and detailed 3D design. Advanced sensors in Apple Pencil measure both pressure and tilt for a fast and fluid drawing experience, while a built-in Lightning connector makes for quick and easy pairing and charging.

Apple Pencil also works with popular apps like Mail, Notes, Procreate and Office 365 for iPad, offering new levels of creativity and productivity.

The Apple Pencil for iPad Pro
The new Apple Pencil for iPad Pro

TechCrunch took Apple Pencil for a spin on the new iPad Pro. Watch the video here

MacDailyNews Take: Incredibly quick and responsive! Watch the video.

Professional artists cheer the new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil – September 10, 2015
Apple iPads had physical keyboards three and a half years before Microsoft’s Surface tablet debut – September 10, 2015
Wired: Hands-on with Apple’s great, big iPad Pro and Apple Pencil – September 9, 2015
Apple introduces 12.9-inch iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard – September 9, 2015
Cool new iPad case with integrated Bluetooth keyboard further threatens netbooks – August 25, 2010
ClamCase announces all-in-one keyboard, case and stand for Apple iPad (with video) – May 6, 2010

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Rad Wagner” for the heads up.]


    1. I’m thinking the iPad Pro will turn a lot of desktop publishing heads when it allows you to pair it with a Mac out of the box. That way people could use full-blown OS X (and iOS) applications with it.

      Here’s some insight Engadget found via professional artists, illustrators and designers:

      Here’s an app that allows you to do this with a “normal” iPad:

      It’s not a stretch of the imagination that Apple could implement this with little difficulty. They could let the 3rd party software developers do it instead, but having this capability out of the box would truly be a strong selling point for graphic professionals.

      1. You can use the Apple Pencil with the $15 Air Display 3 app to paint into Photoshop for Mac. It’s basically a 13″ Cintiq for the price of an iPad Pro plus a $99 pencil and a $15 app.

        1. That nice. It’s a pity that the designers that Engadget interviewed apparently haven’t heard of such an application that allows this functionality… That’s why I think Apple should make this work out of the box without the necessity of 3rd party applications (such as Air Display 3, and Astropad).

  1. Who needs a stylus? You have to get ‘em, put ‘em away. You lose ‘em, yuck. Nobody wants a stylus. As soon as you have a stylus, you’re dead.

    Like…you can merge a toaster and a refrigerator, but that’s probably not going to be pleasing to anyone


    1. Obviously Steve wasn’t thinking about this particular product, and he was trying to get consumers to warm up to a touch screen. He was right then, and is still right now as it pertains to the iPhone. I think that Steve would understand for precise drawing, we must have something that is built for precision. Apple Pencil is not a contradiction of his statements agains the stylus at all.

      1. More importantly, you STILL don’t need the stylus.

        Pencil is an accessory; it enhances the functionality of the device, together with apps that are specifically developed to take advantage of it. It is in the same way an accessory as is the camera connection kit, or Lightning audio interface, or other similar accessories.

    2. I’m really getting tired of the ignorance displayed by people parroting Steve Job’s 2007 quote with, apparently, absolutely no understanding of the context. If Jobs were still alive he’d bitch slap them and toss ’em a Treo for their stupidity.

      1. It seems like you are the one who needs to be slapped for a prolonged period to teach you a lesson about using such language. Are you intending to slap someone like they were a woman? Are you that much of a weakling? What a pitiful human animal.

      2. Spark, totally agree. Tired of hearing people mis-cite facts and under-interpret statements as a way to put Apple and Steve down. Especially when they could easily verify that what they are saying is not true.

        Here are the top 3 bogus statements people try to assert:

        1. Apple stole its GUI from Xerox. Not true.
        Sorry, not true. Apple told Xerox what he wanted to do, and had Xerox’s permission. Xerox had a substantial investment in Apple at the time, which they later sold at a tidy profit. So, no, Apple did not steal its GUI from Xerox. Apple picked up the ball and ran with it to develop Apple’s consumer computer GUI, all w Xerox’s permission.

        2. Apple tried to patent “curved edges”. Not true.
        Sorry, this is not true. Read the patent filing against Samsung. The “curved edges” statement is found in the introductory section in which Apple is describing its iPhone device. Apple never claimed to have a patent on “curved edges”. The mis-statement was perpetrated by Samsung’s lawyers, then it was repeated endlessly by anyone who wanted to put Apple down. But the actual assertion is simply false. And it is easily verified, too.

        3. Good artists copy, but great artists steal (– Picasso, repeated by Steve.) Usually cited as an admission of theft on Steve’s part. But sorry, this interpretation of what Steve was saying is trite. Concepts and ideas are not patentable. But implementations of concepts and ideas are patentable. Eg, go look up the early patents for paper clips. One cannot patent the idea of a device to hold papers together …it is too broad a concept. But there have been a number of patents granted for various paper clips over the decades. Take new ideas and push their implementation, is basically what Steve was saying when citing Picasso’s well-known, but poorly understood, statement.

        Hopefully the “your finger is the best pointing device” statement from Steve will not have to be added to this list of widely held misguided “understandings” of what Steve meant when he said various things. I believe if Steve were to see the proposed uses of these pencils — for which one’s finger is actually poorly suited — he would approve.

        As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of a small mind”. What he meant was that people should change their minds when appropriate, in response to new information, for example. Anyway, that is the spirt of true innovation and forward progress. Don’t tie yourself to the past just because you once believed something.

        Cheers! Go Apple!

    3. If you’re a professional illustrator, a stylus is a must. Many illustrators I work with rarely touch a keyboard or mouse, and work all day with a tablet and a stylus. It will be fascinating to see how third party software developers harness the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil.

      Obviously, Adobe has embraced this, and with the upcoming Adobe MAX conference, we can expect to see other Adobe applications for the iPad Pro to do so as well. My hunch is that Adobe will tune their iPad apps around the iPad Pro/Apple Pencil combination, and we can expect that the iPad Pro will also be quickly adopted as a wireless tablet for Mac-based illustration apps.

      As RoaringMac said above, yesterday was probably a very bad day for the folks at Wacom. But we knew this day would be coming.

      1. I am trilled by the potential that the iPad Pro/Apple Pencil combo represents and would love to have one for graphic projects I have in mind. However… whether or not that potential is ever realized is another matter.

        The iPad Pro has a serious disadvantage compared to the Cintiq and it’s a deal killer. That is in moving content off (or on to) the iPad Pro.

        The are many reasons for needing to do so (and for my purposes, I would need to), and those don’t exist with a Cintiq setup. The Cintiq is just an input/monitor device for the PC where your created content resides.

        I have no doubts the iPad Pro will work as a sole content creation tool for some people and I’m sure we’ll hear about them, but I doubt it will work for most.

        If one could connect an iPad Pro to a Mac and have it recognized as an input device like a Cintiq that would be great. Or… If one could connect a Mac and an iPad, and then drag / drop whatever files you want, to or from, one to the other with a mouse, everything would be much simpler for us creatives who want easy, intuitive access to our files.

        Current methods are neither easy nor intuitive.

        1. your post is interesting

          I’m typing this looking at a big Cintiq screen.
          What you are saying about moving content is probably correct.

          I’m still getting an iPad Pro but primarily as a sketching device especially when I’m out of the studio.

          One amazing thing is the iPad Pro is the price, it’s about the same as the Cintiq’s of the same size WITH NO CPU, BATTERY, STORAGE etc. ! ).

          Will have to see what the third party app developers deal with the iPad Pro and how they might help with the file system (some way of syncing files with those on a Mac?). Never really tried content creation with my current iPad, the third party stylus I got sucks so don’t know much about Cloud storage etc.

        2. AirDrop could be a solution. It may not be instant but you can move your files easily. Continuity would be a great solution for apps that support it. There are apps that already treat an iPad as a second input device, I have one for FCPX.

    4. When entering a music score I cannot see where exactly I’m placing music notes and symbols because my finger is in the way. The Apple Pencil will make this task remarkably better. Where precision matters, this is a great improvement.

      I would more liken this to merging a refrigerator with a freezer, with temperature controls for each.

  2. This tablet will be fabulous for healthcare.
    Medicine, Dentistry and other disciplines.
    It will be great for collaboration, training, teaching, patient education, CT surgical treatment planning, etc.
    I hope the major private practice and hospital software companies jump on this quickly.

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