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iPadOS 16.4 supercharges Apple Pencil hover feature on M2 iPad Pro

Published Mar 28th, 2023 9:54AM EDT
Apple Pencil 3 Hover Procreate
Image: Apple

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Alongside the M2 iPad Pro announcement last year, Apple said the 2nd-gen Apple Pencil would be more useful on the tablet thanks to a new hover feature. Now, with the release of iPadOS 16.4, the Cupertino firm says it has improved this capability in a new interview with TechCrunch.

To the publication, Apple’s Director of Input Experience Leslie Ikemoto praises how the M2 iPad Pro, alongside the Apple Pencil, can preview lines before touching the screen as it needs to be up to 12 millimeters above it.

“The pencil is emitting signals that the iPad is then interpreting and figuring out the location of the tip of the Pencil in 3D and the angle at which it’s being held at,” explains Ikemoto.

One of the apps that take advantage of the hover feature is Procreate. At the end of 2022, BGR covered what the developers of the app thought of this new feature. “It makes everything feel so playful,” says Claire d’Este, Procreate’s chief product officer. “I find myself rolling up and down menus just to see it respond. There’s something so nice about everything lighting up as I’m thinking about what to do next.”

Now, with iPadOS 16.4, Procreate now can take advantage of some refines in the forms of Tilt and Azimuth. Although it may not be clear what these features do, Ikemoto explained how apps like Procreate could take advantage of them.

“If you look at Procreate, they have the pencil brush, which is small and thin when you’re perpendicular to the display, and then gets wider as you Tilt for shading,” says Ikemoto. “With Tilt and Azimuth, Procreate can render an exact outline of the mark that you’re going to make when you set down your pencil brush, and that’s a huge accelerator for their users.”

Last but not least, the Apple executive explains that developers need to do little to no work to support these new features.

 “We wanted hover to be as easy to adapt as possible, so we used the existing APIs that we used for the Magic Keyboard Trackpad,” Ikemoto adds. “For developers who have already adopted UI pointer interaction in their app, they get Apple Pencil hover for free without doing any work. It will just work.”

You can read the full interview here.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.