Apple iPad Pro and Pencil

The Apple iPad Pro and Pencil will be new option to use with Sketchbook.


Who wants a stylus? :laughing:

Yes, Steve Job is spinning in his grave right now.

Though it may not be comparable, I’d love to see what some Cintiq users think about these new announcements. I’ve never used a Cintiq but I’ve been using and iPad with Paper and Pencil by FiftyThree a bit and one thing I can see as an improvement is how sharp and firm the tip seems to be on the Apple Pencil. That accuracy is something I think I’d really like.

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looking forward to trying it. I drifted back to analog sketching so maybe this will get me back.


Is it just me or does the pen look incredibly unrefined for an Apple product? The glossy white plastic with all that chrome stuff going on… almost a bit “2013 Samsung”-esque. Especially when you compare it to the fine tipped, solid metal pen of the surface pro.

Well I guess we have to wait and see/try. Apple products have a history in looking and feeling MUCH better than you would think from their renderings.

dang, burn! I actually wish it was just glossy white with no details. But maybe the chrome bits will be real metal and will change my mind in person.

The form of the pencil was surprising to me for a couple of reasons. With the products like the Wacom stylus, 53 Pencil, and Adobe Ink I’d become accustomed to styli being closer to the diameter of a sharpie or design marker than that of a pencil. It’s understandable that Apple would choose a pencil form factor over those, but it’s a lot more literal than I would have expected, too. The length and angle of the taper at the tip looks really close to that of your typical #2, not to mention the location of the metal ring. None of this is bad by any means, just not what would have come to mind if someone told me a week ago that they were releasing a stylus.

I’m looking forward to using this—if only as an alternative to Wacom.

I’ve used several Wacom tablets in the past, including 2 large Cintiqs. Each time I was super-excited about using them in the beginning, but the experience is just such a hassle—from the numerous cords, to the split/mirrored screen set up, to the table space taken up (along with the computer that I need to run it with). And unless I’m sketching all the time, I need to clear my desk before and after I use it; I can’t just plop down at my sofa to sketch or bring the Cintiq out to get some coffee. Don’t get me wrong, Cintiqs are GREAT for sit-down, professional-level work, but it’s not great for spur-of-the-moment sketches when the inspiration comes or when I’m in the mood (again, unless you have the desk space to just leave it there). Long story short: my Cintiq is collecting dust and I still resort to my sketchbook and pens 99% of the time.

Design-wise, I think the Apple Pencil actually makes a lot of sense. It’s a fine balance between “accessory” and “main tool”. It’s the iPad Pro’s “highlight”, like how the white earbuds were for the iPod. It’s also a statement of trust in its significance and difference; a blend-in color like dark silver/black/gray would’ve made it even more like a “stylus”, whose consumer impression can vary widely. I’m sure Apple wanted to distance itself from that.

Second, I don’t think it’s contrary to Steve Job’s anti-stylus statement. Job’s understanding of stylus at the time was that the stylus is passive, static, rigid, and almost too critical to the use of the accompanying smartphone for its own good. The iPad Pro can exist perfectly fine without the Pencil, but at the same time the Pencil can bring a whole new level of experience and interaction (if it lives up to its promise) for those specific users. The Pencil is more equivalent, in the technological realm, to the Wacom pens, and I think most people would agree that the Wacom pens are far superior to the “stylus” of a typical smartphone. But its thinness and overall similarity to a regular pencil would imply that Apple wants you to use it but not be overly precious about it. I think there’s something to be said about how little the regular pencil has changed.

In any case, the near-zero latency and eye-to-hand accuracy of the Wacom pen is the best thing about it. If the iPad Pro and Pencil combination can come very close to it, I think they’ll be a serious challenge to at least Wacom’s entry products.

Looks like (or I’m just hoping) that Apple’s take on styli for designers will take the forgiving quality of digital and merge it with the ease/tactile familiarity of analog. When I saw that you can move rulers/guides at the same time as sketching I was sold. Gotta try it out!

The internet is really eating this one up, but to be fair - in 2007 when that announcement was made, touch screens were worthless and styli were required for interacting with elements like scroll bars and such which were all too narrow to use via touch.

I think Apple saw a good opportunity to attack the Surface Pro which was sitting above the iPad in terms of user group. This might actually be the device us designers have been craving in terms of a good digital sketching experience without the horrible overhead of Windows 8.

Looking forward to trying this one out in the flesh. Yet still have some doubts about the practical use, like not choosing for a full OS and charging the stylus looks like a huge breakage risk.

It also looks like they’ve chosen for N-trig digitizers. So I got my hopes up to see some of these features in the next Surface.

Nice points there, DesignerinShanghai. re: Stylus and Jobs. Very much agree with you.

I think this, along with their new 3D touch technology, shows Apple at their best. That is, reinventing technologies that others or they have done previously, but with an incredible focus of thought and consideration into what and how to achieve.

Went to the Bellevue Square mall last night to hit up the Lego store for my kid’s Christmas presents…avoided buying myself the sweet Poe Dameron X-Wing. After that, the big Microsoft retail store, and the Apple Store.

It might be that the Apple store recently moved to the 2nd floor from the ground floor in order to get a larger space, but the traffic was higher in the MS store at 7PM on a weeknight, the week before Christmas. The Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book are the first products displayed when you walk in, and there were helpful employees standing right by them to answer questions and check stock.

I watched Spencer Nugent’s video comparing the Surface, Wacom, and iPad Pro so wanted to see for myself which is best for drawing. The Surface 4 was a really good looking piece of hardware - the Surface book is even nicer looking although the weight imbalance of the screen feels a little odd. The drawing action was good - similar to a Cintiq I thought - it didn’t feel like “plastic on plastic” as Nugent described. Plus there’s an eraser. All in all it was nice. The screen quality on the Surface Book seemed very good.

Then I went upstairs to mess around with the iPP and the Pencil. It was undeniably better of a drawing experience, and I was just using the stock ‘Notes’ software, nothing special. I got the impression that there were hundreds of small design choices that were employed in the conception and use of this device, and that it was driven heavily by people who’s lives and passions depend on creating images by hand. I can’t boil it down to just one thing - penciltip friction, stylus weight, screen surface, the tip sensitivity, overall size of the screen - but for people who care deeply about the drawing experience there is no comparison with the Surface products. After 15 minutes I no longer cared that the Pencil didn’t have a slot for storage, or that the charging was done by sticking the end in the iPP. Think about your first Wacom experience with an Intuos, and how much better the first Cintiqs were, compare that to the newest Cintiqs, and then take another big jump to get to the iPad Pro drawing experience. I thought Spencer was just being an Apple fanboy - which he admitted to being - with picking the iPad Pro in his video, but after trying it I think he’s right. There’s just something, which is a combination of hundreds of other little somethings.

Definite buy.

Followup - I asked an Apple Store employee about Pencil on the smaller iPad models, he said “no, just the iPad Pro… for now.”

Thanks Slippyfish for the thoughtful review. I am trying to decide between a big Cintiq, iPad Pro, or Surface (Book or Pro) for sketching duties so your comments are very timely.
While I love the idea of the Cintiq, I think the reality of how I work is that I would rather have the option to be mobile. Looks like I’ll be driving to the mall this weekend to visit the Microsoft & Apple stores!

Other than the OS, this is very similar to my Samsung Note PRO 12.2…accurate drawing/sketching/writing but limited due to it being a mobile OS.

I opted instead for the Surface Book (I’m using the Surface dock, MS’s new Arc mouse and a few things tied into the dock (Dell 27" monitor, LG external DVD drive, Toshiba external SSD) and I can add another monitor via the dock if work flow prompts the need. So far the Surface Book is pretty amazing. I chose the i7 with 16gb ram and 512 SSD with both the Nvidia and Intel GPUs. The sketching is as good as the Note PRO (which is Samsung’s S-pen, which is really a wacom) and I love how the pen sits on the side.

This is the first Windows product I’ve ever owned that most people mistake for an Apple.

[quote=“slippyfish” the iPP [/quote]


But really, I’m glad there’s finally some great competition out there giving Wacom a run for its money.

I have a Wacom Cintiq 21ux at home, the newer 24 inch Cintiq at work (and a co-worker just got the latest, massive, all glass front Cintiq). Plus, I’ve owned a Samsung Pro 900 12.2 for a few years with the Wacom Bamboo stylus accessory.

God damnit. The iPad Pro with the pencil blows them all clean out of the water. No discussion. Wacom just got obliterated.

I mean, I did not expect this at all. The pencil has got a fucking battery, for crying out loud! Yet, digital sketching has always been just that, digital. Paper was always the fastest and most natural. But I don’t think that’s the case anymore. Sketching on the iPad Pro (after a few brush tool adjustments) feels completely natural. For the first time in years with an apple product (I thought they went downhill after Steve Jobs), “it just works”.

Congratulations Apple. I’m selling my Cintiq.