Apple launches iPad Pro and "extraordinary" Apple Pencil for technical drawing

| 70 comments

Tech giant Apple has released its latest series of hardware updates – including the first Apple Pencil, a stylus designed for technical drawing (+ movie).

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

Apple's annual hardware launch event took place in California yesterday, with the release of two new versions of its current iPhone 6 design – the iPhone 6s and the larger 6s Plus – as well an Apple Watch collaboration with luxury fashion brand Hermès, which reinforces Apple's desire to position its smartwatch as a luxury product rather than a gadget.

It also revealed a larger version of its tablet computer, called the iPad Pro – described by Apple CEO Tim Cook as "the most capable and powerful iPad ever created".

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

But the only entirely new product reveal of the launch was Apple's first stylus since the early 1990s, the Apple Pencil. The Pencil is designed to be used with the larger iPad, which is aimed at professional artists and designers.

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

According to Jonathan Ive, Apple's chief design officer, the Pencil will allow a new precision in drawing on the screen of the iPad, responding to different levels of pressure and different angles.

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

"Highly responsive sensors built into the tip of the Apple Pencil work with the iPad Pro display to detect position, force and tilt," said Ive in a movie shown as part of Apple's product presentation yesterday. "With force data you can press lightly to get a thin stoke or press harder to get a darker, bolder stroke. Signals emitted from two locations in the tip calculate the angle and orientation to produce broad or shaded strokes."



The technology that reads the touch on the screen has been redesigned to recognise the difference between different Pencil strokes and a finger touch.

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

"Its unique tip signature allows it to be used simultaneously with your finger and, with incredibly low latency, it has a responsiveness that feels like a true writing or drawing instrument," said Ive. "Apple Pencil is designed to look and feel like a familiar tool, yet with its carefully engineered technology, working with our most advanced multi-touch display, it delivers something extraordinary – precision that actually gives you the ability to touch a single pixel."

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

The top of the Pencil contains sensors that feed information back to the tablet device, and it can be recharged via a Lightning connector – Apple's super-speed re-jig of the standard USB connector. It will be sold separately from the iPad Pro for $99.

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

There was no mention in the presentation of previous anti-stylus comments made by Apple founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011.

In 2007, unveiling the iPhone's multi-touch technology, Jobs dismissed the need for a stylus device outright.

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

"Who wants a stylus?" said Jobs. "You have to get them, and put them away, and you loose them, yuch. Nobody wants a stylus, so let's not use a stylus. We're going to use the best pointing device in the world. We're going to use a pointing device that we're all born with – we're born with 10 of them – we're going to use our fingers."

In a Q&A about the fourth operating system for the iPhone in 2010, Jobs added: "If you see a stylus, they blew it."

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

Apple launched its first iPad five years ago. Among the famous artists who have since adopted the touchscreen products for more detailed work is David Hockney, who recently staged an exhibition of paintings produced on Apple devices.

"In just five years, iPad has transformed the way we create, the way we learn and the way we work," said Apple CEO Tim Cook during last night's presentation in San Francisco. "iPad is the clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing."

The iPad Pro is 9.6-millimetres thick and features a 12.9-inch screen. According to Apple, it will have a 10-hour battery life and a new processing chip that makes it faster than Apple's iPad Air. A full-size keyboard is also available to use with the device. Both products will be released in November.

  • Dan

    Yawn.

  • Young Money
  • It’s a whole different story to use the stylus with the iPad Pro than using it with the original iPhone. Keep in mind that the pencil is an optional alternative for those who need it for drawing, sketching or other things. If you don’t want it, you don’t have to use it.

    When designing on a Wacom you have to use a pencil as well – if you want to design on the iPad, it’s clear that the pencil makes a lot of sense.

    • Ray

      Does the pencil and/or the program(s) come with an “erase” capability? I did not see any “erasing” on the video.

      • Wacom styli have erasure buttons on the back end; not possible to do here due to where the charger is placed. All programs since MS Paint have an erase function.

  • Kate

    Steve Jobs would’ve laughed at the irony.

    • Sim

      Yes, absolutely.

    • NiggaWithoutAttitude

      No, he’d be smiling at the money.

      • Durgen Jensen

        Why would you buy a more expensive banana that tastes worse and has less nutrients in?

    • baju-baju

      I don’t think so. He was talking about a primary input method, not an additional, optional tool.

    • Baretheon

      Have fun drawing with your fingers.

  • Balta Balta

    Really cool Apple. Thanks for nothing. Again!

    • The Gruber

      It’s not like they owe you anything.

      • NiggaWithoutAttitude

        They do when you’re one of those idiots that have spent their money buying all of Apple’s products since the first iPhone.

  • ewa effiom

    It’s incompatible with older models, which is sad.

    • Kelley

      Apple has never been known for backwards compatibility. Apple users have never been known to verify their needed applications will work on a new device or OS. I work in IT and hate it when Apple comes out with a new OS. Windows does a much superior job with making their products backwards compatible.

      • baju-baju

        True that! “Backwards” and Windows go well together.

    • ジェイソン ストックデール

      Fiftythree makes an attractive stylus that functions much the same way at half the cost. It also looks as though it plays nice with various models.
      http://bit.ly/1Q57YjE

      • Dave Campbell

        The accuracy and reliability of the Pencil53 is nowhere near what’s being promised by the new Apple Pencil.

  • Guest

    Bah. Doesn’t work with old iPads. And what about the, “Hey, Siri? OK, Google”. I think at the end we will have exactly the same products with different brands.

    • guest

      Agreed, I’m holding out for the cheaper models that work exactly the same!

    • Rhyna

      That’s because the old hardware doesn’t have 3D Touch, so it can’t detect pressure and profundity.

  • steph

    As “boring” as just another stylus might seem, what really got me excited was the tilt sensitivity – that’s awesome! I use both a Wacom tablet and a more advanced stylus on a Kindle Fire… They have the pressure sensitivity, but it gets increasingly frustrating when they stop outputting lines the second I angle my stylus.

    What Apple needs to do next is just sell a stripped-down tablet purely for digital drawing. I’d go for that!

    • Tony Johnson

      Hi Steph, nothing against you, but to be honest tilt sensitivity on a mobile device is old news. Both Samsung and Waco have made tilt sensitive Android devices. Note 4 and 5 (Samsung) Cintiq companion hybrid (Wacom) and I wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung is making a tilt sensitive note tablet right now.

      • steph

        Haha, you’re totally right. My problem is owning an old tablet! The initial “wow” moment has completely dissipated, especially after seeing how Apple is trying to charge $99 just for the pencil!

  • NiggaWithoutAttitude

    Steve Jobs was basically a con artist. I don’t know why so many people actually liked the guy. Oh wait, they didn’t. They pretended they did after his death because it became a thing.

    He was a cheap, lazy, and disgraceful man that wouldn’t think twice about firing an employee just to take credit for their ideas. Only idiots buy Apple products; why would you buy a more expensive banana that tastes worse and has less nutrients in? You wouldn’t. So why do that with your technology?

    • Durgen Jensen

      What?

      • NiggaWithoutAttitude

        Can you not comprehend it? It’s not hard if you can read English.

        • Durgen Jensen

          ” Why would you buy a more expensive banana that tastes worse and has less nutrients in? ”

          Why write a comment with an unintelligent, poorly written metaphor in?

          Try this instead: Think, type, proofread, send.

        • Durgen Jensen

          “Why would you buy a more expensive banana that tastes worse and has less nutrients in?”

          • NiggaWithoutAttitude

            Okay, you can quote me – but can you comprehend it? It’s called an analogy.

          • Durgen Jensen

            It’s a bad analogy. You’re comparing apples and bananas!

          • NiggaWithoutAttitude

            Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realise you were the governing body of analogies! My bad, analogy queen.

          • Durgen Jensen

            You’re so stupid. :)

    • Leo Moriarty

      Why would you buy a banana to draw with in any case?

      • NiggaWithoutAttitude

        Nice joke, nobody laughed, but we all noticed that you made the effort.

        • Leo Moriarty

          If that is you without attitude I would love a clip of you having a bad day.

          • NiggaWithoutAttitude

            I wasn’t typing with arrogant or aggresive manner, so yes that is me without attitude. It is also me when three idiots attempt to make a joke purely because they don’t agree with me/understand what an analogy is.

          • Durgen Jensen

            Everyone understands what an analogy is. The problem is that yours is poorly written and doesn’t make sense.

            There is no reason to make an analogy with a banana in the first place. You could just ask, “why would you buy a phone that costs more but isn’t as nice as options from other companies?”

            On top of that you wouldn’t know if the banana tastes worse until after you buy it and you would never know if it has less nutrients than other bananas unless you sent it to a lab or are regularly analysing the nutrients in your stool after you digest your food. Have you been regularly analysing your stool?

            Shopping for technology is different because you can compare the specs of products from different companies before you decide which to choose, you can read and watch reviews by informed experts online, and you can consider the intangibles like what would the benefit of being connected to a network of people with the same technology be? A great example would be that you can use iMessage instead of SMS over Wifi with any other Apple user without any extra charge or data usage. That’s not something you can get with a banana, no matter how many nutrients it has in. ;)

          • Leo Moriarty

            Calling anyone who dares think for themselves and feels differently about something an idiot amongst other insults is most certainly both aggressive and arrogant and reeks of attitude, quite frankly. Posting stupid posts opens you to well deserved disdain and ridicule. The very definition of a troll.

    • is this what you mean?

      • NiggaWithoutAttitude

        Aww, people who can’t read. How cute.

        • Durgen Jensen

          Can you read this? “Why would you buy a more expensive banana that tastes worse and has less nutrients in?”

          See how it doesn’t make sense and is an incomplete sentence? Remember when you wrote that?

          • NiggaWithoutAttitude

            It’s not an incomplete sentence, but even if it were, it’s the internet so it does not matter. I just didn’t use all of the proper terminology, because again, it’s the internet.

            Lol at your massive paragraphs over an analogy, I envy your life so much because clearly it’s enriched so much that you have to lecture people on analogies. What are you even on about?

            Picking apart a sentence just because you don’t like an analogy in a four-paragraph essay, that’s actually hilarious. Clearly, if there are still a lot of people out there that are buying iPhones, then clearly they do not know all of the specs and therefore an analogy is needed to open their eyes.

          • Durgen Jensen

            It is an incomplete sentence. Just read it slowly and you might pick up on it. Try it again but go r e a l l y slow.

            I’m sorry my long response intimidated you. I’m sure it was hard for you to read because you have such difficulty with completing only one sentence on your own. But don’t worry, just keep practicing, read a little every day, maybe try reading a book or newspaper, and someday you might improve. Until then hopefully you can find happiness in your ignorance. Good luck, big boy.

          • NiggaWithoutAttitude

            Well, explain then because apparently in Durgen Jensen’s world everybody always has to have complete grammar and they have to write in properly structured sentences.

            I love how your second comment is just an attempt at trying to insult me; trying being the operative word in that sentence. Clearly, if I couldn’t read then I couldn’t write also. So, do care to explain why you’re being so pathetic all over one analogy?

            Is it possibly for the fact that we share different opinions and you can’t take that? I don’t know, but what I do know is you’re acting up for no reason. I also know that acting like that will get you nowhere in life. Get off of your high horse, just because you don’t like the analogy I made.

          • Durgen Jensen

            “Clearly, if I couldn’t read then I couldn’t write also.”

            Truer words have never been written, big boy! I was worried for a second that this was all going over your head, but now I am relieved to see that you’re starting to understand that you aren’t intelligent enough to make a simple analogy.

            It would benefit you as a person to learn how to form an intelligent opinion and to transcribe that opinion in the form of a complete sentence.

    • Tullpeis

      Wow, your kind of stupid is really awesome.
      Here, have a banana, it’s free :)

      • NiggaWithoutAttitude

        Care to explain why you believe that? Or let me guess, you just don’t agree with what I have said so you believe that I am stupid. Is that about right?

  • JayCee

    Once again Apple continues to innovate by copying its competitors. The iPad Pro is nothing more than a less-capable Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which came out over a year ago.

  • Hugo

    I’m keen on Apple products but it seems they are just copying the Microsoft Surface Pro, which admittedly makes the iPad look like a kids toy.

  • pau

    I’m usually a pretty big fan of Apple’s work, but this stylus seems like a joke. Yeah, it looks pretty nice (although a stylus is not such a difficult object to design), but this stupid connector – protected by a little cap that makes one more small object to care about – that requires you to add a 3-inch-long stiff and fragile stick to the bottom of your tablet? That’s ridiculous.

    • Leo Moriarty

      Kind of with you on that.

  • I’m so tired of that Jobs quote. He said that when he was trying to differentiate his product, and he never considered the rather robust market that’s been made for third-party hardware developers created by professionals like myself who don’t want to paint with their fingers.

    • bonsaiman

      “He never considered” is the key point in your comment.

    • knownquantity

      In that quote, he was talking about the primary method for navigating the OS and nothing else.

  • Chris MacDonald

    Why on earth would you choose this over a Microsoft Surface Pro? Why?

    • Muleque

      Because PCs are horribly unreliable.

      • Chris MacDonald

        That is clearly an absolute fallacy.

    • Leo Moriarty

      Because, personally I am invested in the Apple ecosystem and, on balance, see no compelling reason to change, at present. I am not a total fanboy. Battery life and not being waterproof made me disinterested in the Apple Watch. Losing MagSafe meant the new MacBook will not replace my MacBook Air.

      I don’t use Siri, and have no plans to. Itunes match is a great concept but has been too glitchy for too long.
      I could go on. But as I said, on balance, I remain unconvinced that Windows, Linux or Android environments would serve my tech needs as well as Apple devices and operating systems.

      • Chris MacDonald

        So on balance you aren’t invested in the Apple ecosystem, really?

        • Leo Moriarty

          I like my iphone, my iPad, my MacBook, my iPod, and the simplicity of cloud integration between OSX & iOS. Invested. Not a fanboy. On balance.

  • knownquantity

    Jobs’ quote regarding the stylus is frequently misinterpreted. If you actually watch the original iPhone presentation, his comment was specific to the primary means of navigating the OS, not in regards to system accessories. The new Apple Pencil is a system accessory. It’s not required to use an iPad Pro.

    • cory

      At All Things D, when talking to Walt Mossberg, Jobs (in relation to tablet PCs) stated: “If you use a stylus you’ve already failed”. Watch the video and listen carefully at 0:40: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2xPt8txgGs
      and quit using the iPhone 2G keynote. That argument is stale just like Tim Cook’s leadership.

  • PROJECT: Yi

    Looks like making items that are great for a few people, but are absolutely useless for everyone else, these days makes the product garbage. Guess we should stop producing peanuts and latex, since not every single person on the planet can use it.

  • x

    If you want to draw digitally on a mobile surface buy an Wacom companion, that is the best way to go.

  • spadestick

    Ideas are cheap, execution is critical.

  • Grant

    Apple get a lot of stick for not innovating to the level of the iPod with every new product, but at the end of the day it is a company creating products to sell, not a ‘not-for-profit’ research lab. The Pencil isn’t going to change the world, but it is a product that appears to be well designed, and will impress a lot of consumers I’m sure!

  • sally smallwood

    FCS just use a pencil and paper. It’s STILL the quickest way to get an idea down.

  • Cat Cassidy

    How can they make a pencil? They can’t even make a decent mouse.