Inability to use Apple Pencil for navigating iPad Pro in iOS 9.3 appears to be intentional

“Over the course of the iOS 9.3 beta testing period, iPad Pro users running the update have noticed a disturbing feature removal that limits the functionality of the Apple Pencil,” Juli Clover reports for MacRumors.

“In the current version of iOS, iOS 9.2, the Apple Pencil can be used for navigational purposes, just like a finger,” Clover reports. “It’s possible to tap on buttons, select text, scroll, swipe between apps, access menus, and access general editing controls in non-drawing apps.”

“With iOS 9.3, much of that functionality has been removed,” Clover reports. “In a recent podcast, Relay.fm co-founder Myke Hurley said he’s heard that the decision isn’t a bug, but an intentional design decision. ‘Sources in the know confirm that removing the functionality of the Apple Pencil is a decision inside of Apple. It is not a bug they have overlooked for three betas. It is a decision.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: iOS does not require a stylus and, it seems, Apple wants to make sure that remains the case.

Apple Pencil is just that: An electronic pencil, not a stylus.

It’s highly likely that this decision was not made lightly and, of all the tech companies on the planet, we trust Apple to make proper UX design decisions, especially one as fundamental as this.

60 Comments

  1. Massive, massive mistake…
    If true i wont upgrade to 9.3….
    This is ridiculous… Its dictatorial, unreasonable and stupid.

    I love using my pencil to navigate… Its clean and easy… My screen stays clean way longer….
    It less obtrusive…
    And i use my fingers when needed or convenient.. Like gestures..for zoom ..etc.

    Apple dont do this, your dictatorial ways are getting suffocating.

    If one finds they want to use their fingers ..let them.. Why block using the pencil for nav for those who prefer it?
    Who wins with this?. Idiotic… C’MON!!!

    PS.. This goes along the same line of omitting a core file management system in ios.
    Inconveniencing pro users. Inconveniencing those who like to organize their resources as they like… All this for absolutely no good reason. If one does not like it one wont use it.. As simple as that. But yet not having it is a major pain for pro users.
    And no, 3rd party apps and iCloud drive are not solution..
    iCloud drive does not work off line… And 3rd part file systems are not compatible across the board .. This should be at the core of ios.

    Release an iosPRO version for a fee.. Yea, An IOSPRO version…. Charge for it….. Ill gladly pay for it.? And remove All these idiosyncratic chains from me… And let me have some freedom…
    Those who dont care. Let them stick to the free ios with more limited functionality.

    Sigh….

          1. Unfortunately, I think it is a lack of touch with the common user, and a feeling inherited from Steve that Apple always knows best.

            I support 99% of Apples decisions, but a few are very perplexing like this one. A pro who uses the pencil frequently will be annoyed having to switch to another input device for a short brief selection. I know. I use word processors a lot and spreadsheets, and keyboard navigation is easier/quicker than switching to a mouse to select a new line, then back to the keyboard etc. etc.

    1. Maybe they found that overuse of the pencil for course navigation had a negative impact on the overall accuracy or functionality of the pencil, where it counts.

      This is just a guess, because I can’t imagin them removing the function, if it were harmless.

      It’s almost as if they don’t want you experiencing some pleasure.

      I think there’s a reason, and it’s not religion.

      1. Oh believe me… Some regard apple as religion…and sometimes apple acts as if they were messengers from god.

        There is zero practical reason.
        I have been using my pro and pencil for about 2 months, 6-7 hours daily… And i dont just type text,..read and watch videos..
        I use it with for all kinds of applications.. From graphics, to cad/3d to music… Though most apps are still snippets and are incomplete.. I try to stay on top and up to date as to how far the ipad can be pushed in its present state…

        There is zero reason for apple to remove this feature…
        Its a stupid marketing bs.. To somehow distinguish their approach to a stylus… Thats why they even gave it a different name.. Pencil… ( its a freaking stylus Apple)…
        This is Ives on drugs…… Feeling he is closer to god than the rest of us.

        Im pissed!
        Every single day.. For the last 8-9 months something increadibly stupid pops out of apple…
        Sigh.

          1. Oh, believe me , i do write to feedback.. And a few key individuals i have correspondence with at apple…. And they do read/listen… But making them act on something is another story. But it does happen here and there.

            Plus if anyone chooses to write to feedback.. Make sure you write to Ipad section… And not report it as bug. Its not a bug …… Its a feature removed in the 9.3 beta.
            I have 9.2.1 and pencil works wonderfully as navigation tool.

            Use the ‘feedback type ‘ and choose….ease of use, feature request, ,hardware software compatibility , efficiency … I send my feedbacks to every relevant feedback type.

    2. There is an answer that I believe will work. An email to Tim Cook explaining how using the pencil “outside applications’ is an ADA issue and important for those who have difficulty gripping and ungripping a pencil or have problem motor skills (shakiness) where having the pen to manipulate rather than a finger combined with palm rejection is paramount. To satisfy everybody, it would an option to turn on under accessibilities prefs but as default off, app developers would still be forced to create UI for finger touch. I’m tied up (bondage convention) but someone should drop a line to Tim

    3. Absolutely! I have preferred using a stylus all the way back to the early days with my Archos . The iPad Air screen is cleaner which is much better for both drawing and photo editing -essentially the reason for the Apple Pencil and the iPad Air, using a an Apple Pencil is a much more precise and effective way to navigate.

      I don’t understand the design decision to willfully incapacitate the pencil for navigating, what is accomplished or rather what is threatened in Apple’s ecosystem by this function This logic I can understand with the inaccessible file system as it would potentially canabalize Apple’s laptops . However as Tim Cook boldly announced at the launch the iPad Air was as good as a laptop. With an inaccessible and incapacitated file system it certainly isn’t.

      The willful incapacitation of the Apple Pencil is another way Apple is shooting itself in the foot to protect(?!) Itself.

    4. I’m in total agreement, there is no logic in forcing users the act against their will. I have an iPad pro and choose not to navigate with the pencil most of the time, but occasionally I do and it’s nice to have the choice. There is one problem with your threat to not upgrade to 9.3 and that is that wifi in 9.2 is practically broken and 9.3 will most likely fix it. I can’t believe the problems im have trying to get reconnected once my iPad pro come out of standby. I often have to power it off and reboot just to get the pro to recognise the wifi network or hotspot and don’t get me started on charging issues. I do still love my iPad pro though mainly because of some amazing apps like uMake that set it apart. But I do hope Apple concentrates on fixing the issues and not creating new ones.

        1. Chano….
          I already bought an ipadpro and a pencil…. I have been using it for two months… Works beautifully… But it seems apple wants to cripple it.
          Believe me if i were to move on from apple to another tablet .. It would be the surface.. Not a samsung android tablet.
          I would hate to see the day when apples arrogance/neglect/dictatorial ways pushe those who care away from them. .
          For now im putting in my fight for what i believe is the right thing.

  2. Who says a pencil is not a stylus? What if I declare a car key is not an ignition starter? How about that? Would that be OK?

    As soon as I declare an car key is not an ignition key, would it be OK to use that as a reason to require two keys?

    OK, “A Pencil is not a Stylus”. I declare. Done.

    I don’t care how good they are at UX design. I think it’s a bad call.

  3. PS. Mdn..
    “It’s highly likely that this decision was not made lightly and, of all companies on the planet, we trust Apple to make proper UX design decisions, especially one as fundamental as this.”

    how can you possibly say that with a straight face given the massive ui screw ups by apple lately..
    Apple music .. tvos less than half backed and missing key key features……The stripping of the productivity suits …etc….. inconsistant contextual menus on osx.. Inconsistant point and click alternatives for keyboard commands..etc…

    These are some of the reason we have all been screaming..’apple software is suffering.. Pay attantion’ including you guys MDN..

    Then you write the above quote?
    Wow…

  4. So it’s put the pencil down, navigate somewhere, pick the pencil up, put it down and navigate. What the hell is wrong with these guys. Jony Ive got his knickers in a twist again?

  5. Stupid and inconvenient, Apple.

    Sometimes you’re such idiots! Do you really want to be the most inconvenient, “No, you can’t do that” in the world?!

    Pure idiocy!

    And I freakin’ LOVE Apple! Why you gotta be so dense and play into the hands of every other vendor’s claim that Apple’s is actually more difficult, limited, less free and convoluted than other systems!!!

    1. ‘play into the hands of every other vendor’s claim that Apple’s is actually more difficult, limited, less free and convoluted than other systems!!!”

      They are not playing into the hands of others claims…. They are systematically creating that reality. ..

      Sometimes, out of pure bewilderment , i resort to thinking that maybe Apple has some malicious individusls planted in their system by the completion..
      People in critical decision making areas that intentionally make increadibly stupid decisions to harm apple.. ..

      Thats how bewildering /stupid Some of these decisions are.

  6. Sheesh — I don’t have an iPad Pro (yet), but from my tests I was easily able to navigate iOS while still holding onto the Pencil. In fact, I didn’t even think twice about it because I’d rather use my finger to navigate anyway and just use the pencil to write, draw, etc.

    1. Great ….then u do it that way.
      Why block me from doing it my way if it absolutly does not compromise anything…
      And one thing is for 1000000% sure… The screen stays cleaner….. Is there one soul in this world who would say that’s a negative.( specially with the pro.. The screen coating is not as fingerprint snd smudge resistantas as on other iPads………forget that i may find it easer to navigate with the pencil.. And just use fingers for gestures)

      1. EXACTLY, yojimbo007.. EXACTLY!! Apple supposedly is making products for EVERYONE not the select few. Apple needs to get grip. About a year ago I read in article about all the stellar products in 2015. We’re they delayed until this year? Sure didn’t see them in 2015. Nothing but a bunch of larger sized products and software the company is ruining with each passing release.

        1. Rob, To be fair… I love my Apple watch . I love my iPad pro and the pencil… Iphone 6s 3d touch is very nice…and iphone is lightning fast . I love the new macbook.. Gorgeouse product…and great for its niche( but i dont own one and lack of ports is kind of unnecessary.. )……….. So there are some good stuff..
          But there have been way more bad stuff than good in 2015… Mostly in the area of stupid software decisions and bugs… Some hardware and accessories and to top it all off 2 botched product releases: Apple watch and ipad pro with accessories.
          I have attributed all of this to growing pains and called 2015 the year of disarray for Apple And prayed it will get better……. Then some other crap hits me in the face and makes me wonder all over again: is this not disarray.. Or this is idiotic decisions .

          Im Sure u can all tell im pissed… I am.. And no it is not just sbout this news… Its about my cup getting full in the past 8-9 months.

  7. Massive mistake. Apple can be so short sighted at times.

    They have it in their minds that the Apple Pencil is primarily an artist’s sketching tool.

    They ignore those who would like to use it for drawing and CAD. You know, MacDraw kind of things as opposed to MacPaint.

    So if I’m drawing lines, arcs, circles in a draw/CAD program with the “Pencil” I will now be forced to use my other hand to invoke commands I could have easily used the stylus (oops, excuse me) to execute.

    Stupid and shortsighted.

  8. I bought it to use mainly as a high quality stylus—to supplant those many less than satisfactory third party styluses which I own.
    You mean I wasted my money? 😡

  9. True, I think of pencil as a drawing aid, not a stylus, which I don’t feel I need. As an artist, I’d love to have an iPad with a pencil, but unlike other artists who bemoan the loss of functionality of the pencil as a stylus, too- the more I think about it, the more I realize that it doesn’t matter.

    1. It matters to those who like to use it also for navigation…
      If you dont like it do t use it for navigation.. ..and just draw..
      Why take away from me what i like..
      I have it and i use it everday and it has zero compromise…. Sometime i use the pencil for nav simetimes i don’t..or any combination inbetween… ‘
      why block the feature when it hurts absolutely nothing.

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