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Pen guy gives thumbs-up to Apple Pencil for handwriting after rejecting all previous styli


We’ve seen the Apple Pencil being well received by high-profile artists even before launch, but I’ve so far seen little on what pen guys think of it. The Pen Addict filled in the gap with a review in which Myke Hurley said that it provided the digital handwriting experience he’d been waiting for.

Sure, I like to doodle and scribble as much as the next person, but all I wanted to know was if the Apple Pencil would give me the digital handwriting experience I had wanted for so longTL;DR: It does … 

Hurley noted that pen guys consider weight and balance to be crucial, and Apple got it right here.

The Pencil is heavier than I imagined it would be. Brad and I constantly talk about how important weight and balance is in our writing instruments, and this has clearly been considered here. The Pencil is weighted fantastically. It feels great to hold; it feels substantial.

Hurley said that while it wasn’t quite perfect, it was better than anything else on the market.

Using the Apple Pencil in Notes is the closest I have ever come to getting a true handwriting experience from a digital device.

To say there is no lag would be incorrect, but it is close enough to feel that it works. When you move the Pencil across the screen, most lines will travel ever so slightly behind it. But compared to previous experiences of using a stylus on a iPad, the difference is like night and day.

And while he won’t be giving up real pens any time soon, he described himself as a convert.

After only having used it for a few days, I am now at the point where I wouldn’t want to go back. Being able to take quick notes or doodles whilst recording podcasts, having quick access to some sketching tools to mark up a document or screenshot, and having a new way to interact with iOS more precisely, has made the Pencil a must-have item in my toolkit […]

The work Apple has done to get the hardware and software in harmony to the point where this all works so flawlessly is astounding to me. The results I am able to achieve are just fantastic. I have always been a pen guy. But now I’m a Pencil guy too.

Check out their full review here.

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  1. Lucas Mariani - 7 years ago

    “we´ve saw”?

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      What happens when you change your mind on phrasing. :-) Fixed now, thanks.

      • Steve Grenier - 7 years ago

        I do that all the time when editing and proof-reading my work. Sometimes I miss a few too 😉

  2. This is a good example of how Apple works.

    They are not the first in getting an apparatus out. The stylus has een out for many many years. However, they made it so that it actually works. What’s the point of being 1st if you’re going to be the 1st to fail right?

    • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

      I think the reason is they had to make the screen work in combination with it. Apple’s been dealing with stylus type products longer than anyone, it’s just they didn’t want to spit out a pile of crap when it comes to latency, which is one of the biggest gripes people have. I’ve always hated the latency with stylus’ in the past, which is one of the main reasons I don’t use them. I do wish they put a button on it because they can come in handy. I also wish it did have a functional eraser end, and I think they should have made the thing magnetically attach and charge. I read that the thing magnetically attaches to the iPad, but Apple didn’t mention that at the Announcement and they don’t really mention it on the site either. At least I haven’t seen any discussion on it, plus I think they should make it charge when magnetically attach, that would be better than the Lightning port method. I’m still a little surprised that they didn’t do magnetic charging. Oh well.

      For those that haven’t seen these early Apple prototypes. Here’s a video that shows them.

  3. triankar - 7 years ago

    well, good! Can we now see it on the smaller iPads too??? :)

    (as in: sometime soon)

    • incredibilistic - 7 years ago

      I’m sure Pencil will eventually be compatible with all Apple products but you should know by now that Apple doesn’t come in guns blazing on everything on its first outing. Just like Touch ID took a year to get to the iPad I’m sure the same will be said of 3D Touch as well as Pencil compatibility, though I suspect Pencil will be constrained to the iPad family and not the iPhone.

    • claustin - 7 years ago

      I’d be moderately surprised if the Apple pencil ever worked on existing smaller form iPads. It needs the extra screen sensitivity of the iPad Pro to function properly. They’ll probably add this functionality to future iPad minis and Airs, but I doubt they’d sacrifice the user experience by making it compatible with the current generation.

  4. vkd108 - 7 years ago

    “TL;DR: It does”

    Bloody expensive pen though, innit? You could write on a bit of paper and take a photo and voila, problem solved and more cash in YOUR account, less expenditure.

    “Oh yes, I am at the forefront of technology.”
    “But you are so thin.”
    “Ah, I have no money for food now, I spent it on all this useful technology to do exactly what I used to do anyway.”

    • 89p13 - 7 years ago

      No one is twisting your arm to buy it: You don’t “need” it to use the iPad Pro. It is an option – IF you have a use for it – buy it / If not – just appreciate all the thought and technology that it required!


      • vkd108 - 7 years ago

        Thanks for informing me of what I already know, as it is blindingly obvious to anyone with a functioning neuron in their head. I am simply offering my own opinion and marvelling in appreciation of all the thought and technology required – as you rightly said – to enable the purveyors to become massively rich at the Lemming public’s expense.

      • Actually your (vkd108) logic is flawed, lets give you an example:
        Say you are a creative professional, making doodles all day for work and eventually turning out a creatively designed product based on your clients wishes (print, product design, webdesign, whatever).

        You firstly have to have decent paper in house to draw on … seeing how it goes here at my job (creative studio) I would say you need 1 box with sheets of paper (5000 pieces) for every 6 months at least, 1 box of paper can cost anywhere between 15 to 50 euro’s depending on quality but since you are a professional you choose the best paper out there.

        Then there are your pencils, you don’t just use 1 type you use a lot of different types (softer or harder) depending on your needs and of course lots of colors as well … a decent set of artist pencils costs around 50 euro’s as well and will probably last half a year at most (and thats a decent set of pencils, not a truly professional one).

        That being said … if you really draw a lot and it is your job I can honestly say an Apple pencil is going to be cheaper on the long run BUT you would also have to have the iPad pro …

        But seeing as you already said you would take a picture of the physical drawing and digitize it that way you would need a decent camera (a Nikon or somesuch with a good stand, decent lighting and such) of professional standards or a good scanner (cheapest option) … these aren’t cheap either … and your phone really won’t suffice for the quality that is required professionally at all even if it takes decent pictures its not the level required for HQ print. In fact, making a picture of a physical drawing will likely not look as good as IRL so you would need to touch it up afterwards which requires a decent computer with Photoshop or similar.

        So even that kinda evens out within a short period of time meaning that you could save money with the Pencil. It all depends on what you need and how often you need it.

        And if it is your job using it you won’t be a thin person if you are good at what you do and have a decent amount of clients. If you are just a normal user yes this might be a bit of a big setback to your budget but if it is your hobby to doodle, why the heck not if you can afford it.

        I won’t buy the iPad pro nor the pencil as I really don’t need either of them but I personally know a few sketch artists that are looking into buying the pencil (one of them had actually just bought one of those much more expensive Wacom Cintiq devices (costing into the thousands) and found the pen to be better and a lot cheaper (as you don’t need a good computer and the expensive tablet) as a total solution also … so there goes that theory).

        Oh and one more thing: there is this little hint in the name of the product … iPad Pro! Just like the other Pro products Apple makes it is capable of much more than regular consumers need for daily life … so if you just like to doodle from time to time and don’t earn money with it, stick to paper, if you are an artists looking into making money with art … buy the damn thing or a Wacom (but those require a computer and the tablet making it likely twice or more times as expensive as a total solution than the iPad and Pencil together).

        Seeing how you don’t seem to realize a lot of things I think the accusation you made regarding neurons just bit you in the ass as to me it seems you didn’t have many neurons firing at the time of your writing.

    • flaviosuave - 7 years ago

      “Bloody expensive pen though, innit?”

      Not for everyone who has more money than you.

    • acslater017 - 7 years ago

      My god, you’re right. Why have I been wasting my money on digital cameras all these years when I could have just kept my film camera, printed my photos at Costco, and scanned them into my computer?

      • virtualstorm - 7 years ago

        Exactly. @vkd108 Could’ve just said. Too rich for me!

    • claustin - 7 years ago

      Have you seen the prices of luxury pens? $99 is chump change. And those won’t function on your tablet.

  5. Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave. :)

    • vkd108 - 7 years ago

      Doubt it, he was just another profit-monger anyway. He too did not actually give a shit what people wanted, he just knew that he wanted to transfer funds from the public’s wallets to his own wallet. His chosen medium for the transaction was via computers.

      • The real question is why are you so against someone working hard and making money because of it? People want products that make there lives better and for now a bunch of them want apple products. 10 years ago it might have been RaZr phone they wanted. 25 years ago it was a Texas Instruments brick that needed a car battery to work. Let people decide what they want to spend their hard earned income on.

      • mdw1951 - 7 years ago

        You sir sound like a real poor bastar*

    • incredibilistic - 7 years ago

      I’ll assume positive intent and read your comment as dry humor rather than someone who genuinely believes that Apple Pencil goes against Steve’s original intent for not wanting a stylus.

    • NY3Ranger (@ny3ranger) - 7 years ago

      Jobs has always said what he needed to say to sell what he wanted to sell at the time. Stylus experience wasn’t ideal. My thought is he would be fine with apple pencil today because it probably overcame whatever experience he didn’t like about it in the past. It might be his project that finally culminated, only Apple senior management knows.

      • claustin - 7 years ago

        Also keep in mind the Apple pencil’s primary function isn’t as a stylus. Sure if your scribbling about on your iPad it can be used that way, but it’s not meant for general tapping about the OS. iOS is and always will be a finger gesture driven interface. Steve would be fine with this because it’s just a tool mainly used for certain applications. And Apple made it better than any other digital writing/drawing device previously conceived on the market. Everybody keeps referring to it as a stylus and it simply isn’t one (not saying you were, just adding to your point).

  6. Mark Granger - 7 years ago

    It still feels like you are writing on glass and not paper. I had hoped for some kind of haptic trick to make it feel more like drawing on a surface with some traction. Perhaps there will be thin stick on texture overlays for the screen that can solve this problem. That being said, this was the best pen-on-glass experience I have ever tried but it is still a pen on glass.

  7. PMZanetti - 7 years ago

    Any good handwriting detection apps that convert your handwritten notes to text?

    • Andrew Messenger - 7 years ago

      There’s a 3rd party keyboard that does that already, if you can get iOS to stop crashing 3rd party keyboards long enough to make it useful.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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