I’m sure you’ve all heard the news by now; Apple’s new iPad Pro comes with a stylus. Actually, excuse me, it comes with a “3-axis, pressure-sensitive” digital writing utensil that Apple is calling the Apple Pencil. Of course, given Steve Jobs’ famous remarks about a stylus, it’s certainly easy to let the jokes fly and poke fun at Apple for releasing a device they previously mocked.
But once we get past all of that, Apple has seemingly delivered a stylus that, dare we say, people seem to really think is an incredible accessory. While we’ll have to wait until the iPad Pro launches in November before we get a full grasp on how useful it is, the initial impressions of the $99 accessory have been overwhelmingly positive.
AnandTech in particular had glowing remarks about the device, noting that it really captures the feeling of using a pencil on paper while simultaneously housing some impressive capabilities.
The precision of the stylus is as good as it can get, with pixel-level accuracy. I never felt like there was any kind of stair-stepping or odd interpolation of my input. The input latency is also extremely low, to the point where the inking is pretty much right where the tip is instead of lagging a quarter of an inch behind.
Angle-dependent input seems to be one neat feature that you could read on a spec sheet and forget about, but after spending a few minutes with it I realized this is actually an incredible feature because it adds an element to the stylus user experience that was present in a pencil/pen/marker but absent in any stylus implementation to my knowledge. I really think that this will be a feature that takes the Apple Pencil from just a good stylus implementation to the best stylus implementation in the industry.
David Pierce of Wired also came away impressed:
The $99 Pencil stylus feels like a particular triumph: It is, bar none, the most fluid and lag-free stylus I’ve ever used. The big, white cylinder is downright fancy; it feels like you should use it for calligraphy or signing the Declaration of Independence. But whether I was marking up an email in Mail, or doodling in Notes, it worked just incredibly well.
Engadget, meanwhile, echoed the sentiment that using an Apple Pencil accurately mimics the friction and sensation of writing the old fashioned way.
The Apple Pencil, as it’s officially called, has a slightly chubby feel and a glossy white finish. So it doesn’t literally look like a pencil, but it kind of does feel like one. This is another platitude you’re probably sick of hearing in tech writers’ hands-on posts, but there actually is enough resistance on the display that when you drag the pencil across it, it feels sort of like writing on paper. I don’t believe anything will ever fully replicate the real thing, but the friction is definitely there.
And while there were a few minor complaints here and there, the larger takeaway is that everyone who seemingly got some hands-on time with the Apple Pencil came away impressed.
Now as for whether or not the iPad Pro — with its accompanying accessories — can help boost lagging iPad sales, well that remains to be seen.