Apple Pencil

I have never had much love for drawing tablets. Years ago I was given a Wacom, and I always found watching the screen while drawing on the desk to be too disconnected. It never worked for me and I disliked using it too much to become any good with it. I was intrigued by the Apple Pencil, but not interested in getting a 12.9" iPad Pro. Then of course last month the 9.7" iPad Pro came along; and now I have both a new iPad and an Apple Pencil.

I don't draw an awful lot these days, and the Pencil is not just a drawing tool, but as a test of the device I figured it would be the best thing to try out first. The first point to make about the Apple Pencil is that it is itself a computer. A very simple (by modern standards) computer; an embedded processor managing a handful of task-specific sensors and a bluetooth radio. This pencil requires charging — obviously — but part of me still feels that this is faintly ridiculous.

It also doesn't quite feel like a pencil. It's the right shape but a little bit too big and heavy (which you stop noticing). It also doesn't have the right friction. It's far, far closer than any regular stylus I've ever tried to use though and Apple is right in that the latency is perceptible but almost non-existent. The illusion is sufficiently good that after a little use you don't think about the differences. The only persistent issue I have is that my not-very-steady hands and the lack of friction sometimes makes for shaky lines.

It's so good that, unlike with any other digital drawing tool I've used, my handwriting looks like my handwriting. I could take freehand notes with it if I chose to. I will be able to sign PDF documents with something that looks as much like my last written signature as anything on paper ever does. It also hasn't caused my hand to ache which is a serious issue for me with most prolonged pen use — this is probably a result of it's slightly larger size.

I'm super impressed.