Definition

Apple Pencil

Contributor(s): Alyssa Wood

Apple Pencil is a stylus for the iPad Pro. Integrating with Apple's Multi-Touch capabilities, the stylus allows users to draw, write and tap icons by pinpointing down to a single pixel on the touchscreen.

Apple Pencil works with a variety of native iOS apps such as Mail and Notes, and third-party developers can support it in their apps as well. Sensors in the stylus' tip detect the pressure at which users touch the screen, allowing them to create thicker or thinner lines. The stylus also detects the angle at which users hold it, to create a shading effect that makes drawn objects appear more three-dimensional.

There is nearly no latency between when Apple Pencil touches the screen and when the corresponding action occurs, according to Apple. The interaction is very responsive because the Pencil receives twice as many data points from the screen as it would with a user's finger -- making the display occur faster. The iPad Pro also includes a palm rejection feature that senses when the stylus is in use and ignores any other touches by the user's hand that may occur on the screen at the same time.

The Apple Pencil has up to 12 hours of battery life. Users can charge it by attaching it to the iPad Pro via the Lightning connector under its magnetic cap. Apple Pencil is sold separately from the iPad Pro and as of this writing, costs $99.

This was last updated in November 2015

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What are some potential enterprise use cases for Apple Pencil?
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The easiest niches I could see using pencil are CAD and animation, or any type of graphic design work. This is the reason people have invested in Wacom pads for the past twenty years plus. The ability to draw directly on the medium itself (i.e. the touch screen) is a definite positive for this type of work. Outside of that, I could see it being a benefit to mind mapping, sketch notes, and methods that utilize the motor pathways of actually writing things down. For many, that will be a definite draw, pardon the pun. I don't see them getting much traction as primary text input devices, except for apps that would require the free form movement. In most other cases, a keyboard is much faster.
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I have yet to have the need for a stylus with any device since using the Handspring Visor back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I think it might be a boon for graphic professionals, but it's overkill when it comes to work in the enterprise that doesn't require precise coding or moving of data within the miniature margin for error the stylus provides/allows.
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I could see it being used with people who can't type well, or have big hands or hands with gloves and so on -- mechanics, miners, people who work in the cold, etc.
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This would be a fantastic tool to use for someone taking notes like students or perhaps attending a conference sessions. I can see this very useful with the battery life. But I wonder if the battery life can be drained faster due to using it for drawings and shading? The idea of testing this tool is interesting. Is the pencil supported on older iOS versions than 9 or is it only supported with the latest iOS? Does the use of the pencil generate more heat? Increasing the heat can change the behavior of software behavior.
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