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Jony Ive talks Apple Pencil, calls other tools ‘poor representation of the analog world’

Apple Pencil hands-on 11

Alongside iPad Pro, Apple revealed a new tool to accompany the device, the Apple Pencil. While Apple Pencil has been hard to come by in terms of availability, those who have managed to get their hands on one have seemingly been impressed with the $99 Jony Ive-deisgned accessory. Now Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, has sat down with Wallpaper Magazine and The Telegraph to discuss his inspiration to make Apple Pencil…

One big thing Ive made sure to note during his interview with Wallpaper Magazine was that the Apple Pencil is not meant to replace the finger as the main input device of the iPad Pro. Apple Pencil is meant to accompany the finger as an input device used when a user is “exclusively making marks.”

I think there’s a potential to confuse the role of the Pencil with the role of your finger in iOS, and I actually think it’s very clear the Pencil is for making marks, and the finger is a fundamental point of interface for everything within the operating system. And those are two very different activities with two very different goals. The traditional pencil could have been replaced by a dish of powdered charcoal, which you dipped your finger into to make marks with. And that didn’t happen.

Regarding the name of Apple Pencil, Ive explained how me felt the word pencil better exemplified Apple’s goal than “stylus” or “pen” did. Ive noted of how everyone associates the word “stylus” with technology, whereas they associate pencil with the very simple and analogue idea of tasks like painting and drawing.

I like the name Pencil much more than stylus because stylus seems a product that’s about technology. Pencil, to me, seems very analogue in its association. But what is challenging is that it will become many things. There’s an incredible painting app and very powerful drawing apps. For some people it will be a graphic instrument and to others it will be a fountain pen. One of the technologies within the Pencil means that as well as detecting pressure, we are also detecting the angle of the pencil.

Ive’s comments on the use cases and name of Apple Pencil really explemify how the company doesn’t believe it went against Steve Jobs’ early saying of never needing a stylus to use an iOS device when he introduced the original iPhone in 2007.  Apple really believes that its Pencil tool is far more than just a stylus.

Ive also was sure to point out that while the design of Apple Pencil is simple, there’s a lot going on inside the device to give it the ability to do what it can do. One thing Ive said he was proud of was the device’s charging capability. Often mocked, Apple Pencil can be charged by simply being plugged into the Lightning port of the iPad Pro:

And one thing that I was excited about is the ease of charging. If you are in the middle of drawing something, you can easily just plug it into the iPad Pro and it recharges extremely fast. Just that alone, having the very fast recharge, was an important attribute so that you could work with confidence and not feel that you would have to manage a number of battery lives. I think you relax knowing whatever happens, you can very quickly recharge it.

This comment specifically shows how Ive really believes that Apple knows what the consumer wants more than the consumer knows what he or she wants. Charging the Apple Pencil by plugging it in to iPad Pro was slammed when the device was originally announced, but Ive still stands by the notion that it’s the best way to charge the accessory.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Ive explained of how Apple Pencil has led many on his design team to start using iPad to sketch. Ive told of how his team has almost exclusively used paper and pencil to sketch in the past, but the combination of iPad Pro and Apple Pencil is leading some to change their habits. This, Ive said, is due in large part to every other stylus being a “pretty poor representation of the analogue world.”

“Many of us in the design team have worked together for 20 plus years. We’ve always drawn in our sketchbooks, and for the first time – despite flirting with some alternatives a couple of years ago – I’m seeing people starting to use the iPad and Apple Pencil. Our personal experience has been that there are definitely affordances and opportunities now that you have a much more natural and intuitive environment to make marks, there are clearly things you can do sketching and writing on the iPad which you could never dream of doing in the analogue world.”

To get the most out of Apple Pencil and iPad Pro, Ive encourages users to just “start drawing.” The Apple executive believes that until you start using something with a sense of carelessness, you won’t get the most out of it. You have to stop thinking about what you’re doing and just draw.

“I always like when you start to use something with a little less reverence. You start to use it a little carelessly, and with a little less thought, because then, I think, you’re using it very naturally. What I’ve enjoyed is when I’m just thinking, holding the Pencil as I would my pen with a sketchpad and I just start drawing.

When you start to realise you’re doing that without great intent and you’re just using it for the tool that it is, you realise that you’ve crossed over from demoing it and you’re actually starting to use it. As you cross that line, that’s when it actually feels the most powerful.”

Ive’s comments on Apple Pencil show just how much Apple is buying into the idea that iPad Pro truly is the best device for the creative professional. Ive makes it clear that Apple worked hard to perfect the features of Apple Pencil, like palm rejection, pressure sensing, and angle sensing.

Of course, Apple Pencil is still very hard to find. The accessory is listed as shipping 4-5 weeks after you purchase, with Apple Stores only getting random shipments of it. In the meantime, check out Zac’s hands-on with Apple Pencil here, as we was lucky enough to win the Pencil lottery.

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  1. Alpha_male - 7 years ago

    im guessing it is but what about the other improvements for the ipad

    • rnc - 7 years ago

      how do you make a living on negatively commenting every article in 9to5mac?

  2. kpom1 - 7 years ago

    Some stores started getting them in today, and on MacRumors one of the commenters claimed a business rep said that there will be widespread availability this Friday, at least in the US.

  3. azkendrick - 7 years ago

    Shrink it down and bring me an iPhone Pro

    • o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

      You know how nonsensical an iPhone Pro moniker is? What would you do to an iPhone to warrant the name? What possible thing would an iPhone get to make professionals want to use this upgraded version over the normal heavily upgraded yearly versions?

      The only reason I see that the iPad is called ‘Pro’ is because it is simply so big that it will sell to almost primarily professionals wanting the screen size. I mean the Air 3 will almost surely get the smart connector and Apple pencil, probably the next mini too, assuming they continue making it.

      • azkendrick - 7 years ago

        I don’t care what name is used but have you ever used one of Samsung’s Note phones? I have used them and found the s-pen to be a fantastic productivity tool at work, I would love Apple to apply the pencil in a similar way.

      • o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

        No, I have not used them, and I have no comment on that except that Apple will never have a phone with an Apple pencil included, or able to be inserted inside it, but as far as using the Apple pencil with say the iPhone Plus, im for that, I don’t think it would be too difficult to write or draw with it on an iPhone Plus screen. They’d have to build support for it into the display and everything like they did with the iPad pro though, and I’m not sure its gonna happen.

  4. o0smoothies0o - 7 years ago

    That’s exactly why when they introduce AirPods I think they’ll be able to be quick-charged for 30min-1hr of music playback in about 30sec-1min from the devices, so you never really have to worry about the battery, and never need a power source other than your primary devices. I hope they charge via the smart connector so a long charging cord isn’t necessary. Smart connector on the device and on the AirPods playback module (in the middle of the wires connecting the two EarPods) magnetically connect together and they are quick-charged. That would be amazing, and so cool.

  5. Robert - 7 years ago

    You write:
    Ive really believes that Apple knows what the consumer wants more than the consumer knows what he or she wants.

    It’s not about what the consumer ‘wants’, it’s about what they ‘need’. It’s about solving problems people are not fully aware that they have. This is a higher objective.

    • alanaudio - 7 years ago

      For anybody who has ever dealt with focus groups, one thing that you can be sure of is that focus groups are much more useful when discussing incremental improvements to something that is already familiar. When it comes to anything completely new or radically different, focus groups can be very random.

      I have always understood why Apple doesn’t rely on focus groups. So long as they have designers who have the vision to think about the fundamentals of how things are used, combined with a pursuit for excellence, Apple is going to do better by relying on it’s designers rather than on it’s users.

  6. jmiko2015 - 7 years ago

    I start to hate the new WeAreTheBestAndOthersAreSh*t-talking Apple…. Especially when they come with everything on the last place (Watch, Music, TV, etc.)

    • PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

      Then again, everything that was released before Apple did it was, well, crap.

      • jmiko2015 - 7 years ago

        Well.. it could’ve been but still I don’t like the way Tim Cook and others bash the competition. It reminds me of certain Android-based phone makers that decrease their reputation by doing this. And I thought Apple’s executives will be smart enough to avoid this childish behavior.

      • PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

        But can it be considered ‘bashing’? I could very well be prejudiced, blinded, or perhaps missed a certain interview or marketing material, where they were bashing.

        Ive calling ‘other tools poor representation of the analog world’ is not really bashing in my opinion. Whenever I try a product from ‘the competition’ it always feels vastly inferior to what I’m used to from using an Apple product. That also works the other way: first using other devices, and then be delighted with Apples’ offerings.

        Again, I am likely biased, been using Macs since 1988.

      • HiroiSekai - 7 years ago

        I’m also seeing it more as a “others weren’t doing it well enough, so we had a go using our best principles”. Sometimes people are blind to what’s right, and someone who does know needs to kick the industry in the right direction. If anything, Apple is the most inclusive company in the competition as they constantly add new competitors-made-friends like Microsoft to their keynotes. If you watch Apple’s conferences and commercials, they’ll never bash another competing product to make theirs stand taller.

        Actually, with that thought, the only instance I can recall is Jobs’ era with the long running “Get a Mac” campaigns. They really bashed Windows back in those days. They only seem to be getting better to me.

  7. Drown Zone - 7 years ago

    Am I the only one hearing the slow paced voice of Ive while reading his quotes in this article 😃

  8. triankar - 7 years ago

    All well, but we really need the Pencil to reach the smaller iPads too. Like, next generation (2016) iPads.

  9. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

    I know this is slightly off topic, but this is one of the coolest, relatively unknown 3rd party accessories for people that own Apple products.


Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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