Second-Generation Apple Pencil Rumored for March of 2017

Apple may be planning to introduce a second-generation Apple Pencil this year, according to rumors out of the Asian supply chain. The new Apple Pencil could be unveiled at an event rumored to take place in March, where it would be shown off along with the next-generation iPad Pro.

Prospective features for a second-generation Apple Pencil aren’t known, but a previous report from Bloomberg has suggested Apple is considering new iPad capabilities that would let the Apple Pencil to work in a larger range of apps, which could be introduced alongside the new accessory.

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There’s also been some speculation that Apple could build in functionality outlined in several patents, including new antenna technology and a magnet that would allow the Apple Pencil to attach to an iPad’s body when not in use.

While we don’t yet have any concrete detail on what could potentially be included in a second-generation Apple Pencil, given the major changes expected to be introduced to the iPad Pro lineup, it makes some sense for Apple to unveil an updated pencil accessory.

Rumors suggest Apple will introduce a new iPad Pro model somewhere around 10 inches with an almost bezel-free design. Though the rumored iPad will use a larger 10-inch+ display, it’s said to be the same size as the existing 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Features like Touch IDwould reportedly be built into the display, much like the rumored iPhone 8, and it is expected to include improved display technology and an upgraded A10X processor.

Quick Look: Apple Pencil Pocket from GearCase

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GearCase reached out after my previous post about my storage option for the Apple Pencil, and I’m really glad that they did. As accessible as my co-opted Pencil clip was for usage at a desk, it did feel a little precarious for storage in a full bag. The Pencil usually stayed in place, but it could easily get caught on other objects in my bag during transit because it was only secured to the iPad at one point.

The Pencil Pocket from GearCase is secure and keeps the Pencil snug against the iPad Pro during transit. I don’t have any concerns about the stylus falling out or getting scratched by other items in my bag.

Nice And Simple Construction

This Pencil Pocket is like an elastic version of the leather holder I was going to make. The Pencil Pocket is composed of a single elastic band that’s perfectly cut for the iPad’s height, so it will fit most any cover that’s sized for the 12.9–inch or 9.7–inch iPad Pros. On top of that base elastic is another layer of elastic, double over at the ends to provide a very solid pouch for the Apple Pencil. I like that the Pencil Pocket is mostly stitched together for increased durability, although the splash of colour (which can be customized at checkout) seems to be glued in place.

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I installed my Pencil Pocket right along the middle panel of my Smart Keyboard, just like I did with the previous pen clip. It really is the best spot for ease-of-use and also ensures that the elastic never touches the screen of the iPad Pro. The fit of the Pocket walks a very fine line with finesse: it’s snug enough that the Pencil will never fall out on its own (even if you have the iPad upside down), but it’s still very easy to remove the stylus with just one hand. There’s also enough room at the top of the pocket to grab the Pencil by the body, and not the cap. Simple though the construction may be, there was definitely some thought put into this design.

Great For Transit

What this Pocket is great for is keeping the Pencil with your iPad Pro during transit. It sounds like a truism, but the Pencil really comes into its own if you can actually keep it attached to the iPad Pro. I use my Pencil a lot more for writing, drawing, and browsing simply because I don’t need to fish around in my bag to find it — it’s just right there on my Smart Keyboard when I need it.

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It still amazes me that Apple, with all of their pride in hardware integration, deemed it unnecessary to store a Pencil on an iPad Pro out of the box. The Pocket really helps with this and has made no noticeable difference on how I store the iPad in my bag. It still feels just I’m putting an iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard into my bag, but I just happen to have a Pencil attached at all times.

An Easy Recommendation

One of the best things about the Pencil Pocket is its price. At just $20 before shipping, it’s a very easy storage solution to recommend to others. This isn’t a full grain leather or canvas cover, but I don’t really need that level of customization for the Pencil. What I wanted was a reliable place to store the Pencil alongside the iPad Pro in my bag, and this Pencil Pocket fulfills that role perfectly and affordably. I’d recommend GearCase’s Pencil Pocket without hesitation for those looking for a simple solution for storing your fancy Apple stylus.

 

Apple Pencil Used as Weight Scale, Synthesizer and 3D Image Editing Controller

While the Apple Pencil is designed as a sketching tool for creative professionals, MacRumors reader Simon Gladman has created three Swift demo apps that show the accessory being used for three unconventional purposes — as a weight scale, controlled synthesizer and 3D controller for image editing.

PencilScale

PencilScale, based on Goodman’s Plum-O-Meter, is an experimental app that uses a homemade harness to turn the Apple Pencil into an electronic scale that is highly sensitive, but not incredibly accurate.

The experiment works by subtracting the touch’s force from a base weight, which is “set as the current touch force when the ‘zero’ button is pressed,” and multiplying it by 140 for a very rough weight in grams.

PencilSynth

PencilSynth is an AudioKit-powered synthesizer that can be controlled by the Apple Pencil depending on its orientation and position.

  • Apple Pencil’s horizontal position on the screen controls frequency
  • Apple Pencil’s vertical position on the screen controls the modulating multiplier
  • Apple Pencil’s altitude angle controls the carrier multiplier
  • Apple Pencil’s azimuth angle controls the modulation index

PencilController

PencilController is an experimental image processing app that uses the Apple Pencil as a controller for the fine setting of parameters on Core Image filters.

The demo has three image filtering modes:

  • Hue/Saturation – Apple Pencil’s azimuth angle controls hue and its altitude angle controls the saturation
  • Brightness/Contrast – Apple Pencil’s altitude angle along North/South controls contrast and the angle along West/East controls brightness
  • Gamma/Exposure – Apple Pencil’s altitude angle along North/South controls exposure and the angle along West/East controls gamma

Gladman explains that “the app uses a spring loaded pattern, so the user needs to hold down one of the mode keys in the bottom left of the screen to stay in the filtering mode.”

The source code for all three projects is available on GitHub.

The Apple Pencil has reignited my love of drawing

The Spider-Man drawing above was created entirely on the iPad Pro using Procreate and the Apple Pencil.

The Spider-Man drawing above was created entirely on the iPad Pro using Procreate and the Apple Pencil. After many years, my love of drawing has been reignited and transported to the digital age.

Friends of mine from childhood, high school and college remember me as someone who loved to draw. Armed with reams of continuous pin fed dot matrix computer paper from my father’s workplace, my elementary school friends and I would draw battleships and castles. Our fortresses featured various dungeons, moats and parapets to defend the inhabitants from the invading hordes. Our vessels would have multiple 16-inch cannons, missile launchers, and enough anti-aircraft, anti-missile, and anti-submarine weaponry to repel any assault on our naval fleet. As I entered middle and high school, I began reading comic books and drawing Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Batman in my sketchbooks.

Yet, as much as I loved computers, I never took a liking to drawing digitally. Tools like Illustrator still confound me to this day for anything but the most simplistic projects. I remember buying one of the first Wacon Intuos tablets, but I could never get used to the experience of looking at the screen while drawing on the tablet. It felt unnatural and I yearned for that 1:1 experience. I realize that many people have no problem with this approach, but it just wasn’t for me. I’ve tried numerous styluses, both dumb ones and those with Bluetooth for my iPhone and iPad, but none could replicate the feeling of drawing on paper.

Today, Wacom has its Cintiq line, Samsung has the Galaxy Note 5 which features a halfway decent stylus in the S-Pen (though the screen is too small for the type of drawing I would like to do) and Microsoft has Surface tablets which come with high-precision styluses. As a longtime Apple user, however, I could not bear myself to switch platforms.

With all that said, one can imagine my excitement with the announcement of the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. The videos depicting the Pencil in action were impressive, and I waited with great anticipation at midnight of launch day to order the Pro and Pencil. While I was able to pick up my iPad Pro on day one, my Pencil was backordered for three to four additional weeks. In some ways, this was good, because it gave me the chance to become more familiar with the differences in the iPad Pro compared with my other iPads. It features the best software keyboard that I have used to date, one that I can conceivably use for typing long form text and editing HTML documents.

I didn’t buy the iPad Pro for typing; I bought it to draw! So last week, I began calling Apple Retail stores around the peninsula, asking if they had any Pencils in stock. I was initially told that all Pencils were backordered, and that they wouldn’t be arriving for weeks. Then, I read reports that small batches were indeed arriving at retail stores, including the one nearest to my house. I went to that store on the morning of the 19th. The specialist informed me that while none were in stock at the moment, more were coming later in the day. So, back home I went and waited until after lunch. As I entered the Apple Store, my eyes went directly to the shelf  where the Pencils should have been. My heart sank when I saw an empty shelf. Fortunately, my prayers were answered; they had 10 more in the back!

iPad_Pro_Drawing_2

Up until now, I have been using an Adonit Jot Pro Bluetooth Stylus and Procreate on an original iPad mini for my digital illustrations. Shown above is a page from a children’s book that I am making for my son. While the Jot Pro was certainly better than using my fingers, I have not been entirely satisfied with it. The lag, the weird plastic disc at the tip, and the buttons that I kept pressing by accident were annoying. The lack of good palm rejection in all of the iOS apps I’ve tried to date made drawing an awkward experience.

The Apple Pencil resolves all of these problems to my satisfaction. It has the least lag or latency of any stylus I’ve ever used due to the high sampling rate between the Pencil’s movements on the iPad Pro’s display. The tip of the Pencil is small and precise; where I place it is where the digital ink appears. I know Wacon tablet users love their buttons, but I like the fact that there are no buttons on the Apple Pencil; there’s nothing to accidentally press. Finally, palm rejection is extremely good across several applications like Paper, Procreate, and Notes. I am so glad to be able to place the side of my hand right on the screen without worrying that a big splotch would appear! And while there remain times when I see a stray ink mark, it happens so infrequently that it’s not a problem for me.

Procreate from Savage Interactive is an excellent painting application that offers multiple layer support, perspective tools, dozens of pre-set brushes, and an easy-to-use interface. It also records everything you do in the app, making it easy to see how I went from a blank canvas to the finished Spider-Man drawing.

It’s only been a few days, but to say that I am satisfied with the Apple Pencil is an understatement. For artists like me who never got accustomed to drawing on graphics tablets like the Wacom Intuos, didn’t want to plunk down the cash for a Cintiq, nor felt the need to switch platforms, the Apple Pencil and the iPad Pro is a game changer. And the great thing is that this technology is only going to get better. I’d welcome using the Apple Pencil on a smaller iPad for those times when I want a more portable drawing system. I’d also like to see better iCloud support in Procreate so that I can easily switch between art projects on all of my devices. I fully expect to do much more drawing in the future, now that the technology has matched my expectations.

Lastly, I pulled the old Apple Bluetooth headset dock to function as a charging stand for the Apple Pencil. I connected a 30-pin to Lightning adapter to the Pencil’s female-to-female Lightning adapter to complete the system. The port for the headset is magnetized, so the Pencil’s cap won’t roll off the table.

Using an old iPhone Bluetooth Headset dock as an Apple Pencil dock.

Moxiware offers first elegant, upright Apple Pencil charging dock

Accessory maker Moxiware is the first out of the gate with a dock for the new Apple Pencil stylus that launched today alongside Apple’s larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro

Apple Pencil, Apple’s first stylus launching today as a companion accessory for the new iPad Pro, charges using a built-in Lightning connector. But having the Pencil sticking out of the bottom of your iPad or lying flat on the floor or a desk with the included adapter isn’t ideal. Moxiware’s dock, however, allows the Pencil to stand upright while charging, not unlike a traditional pen stand.

As is the case with most early docks for new Apple products, this one doesn’t appear to include an integrated Lightning cable meaning customers will have to supply their own and snake it through the base.

It’s available in 4 models: aluminum and wood finishes in either a cone shape or a cylinder shape with an extra pen slot.

Apple-Pencil-dock-moxiware-02

The Moxiware Apple Pencil charging dock is available to order now from the company’s website with shipping schedule to start in December. The dock costs $30 + $6.95 shipping worldwide. 

The iPad Pro officially went on sale today online in 40 initial launch countries with the device scheduled for shipping to customers as early as Friday. Some Apple retail stores are also reporting having stock of the new device today, while accessories for the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard companion accessories are shipping in 5-7 days at the time of writing.

Apple Pencil Offers High Precision and Low Latency, Gains 30 Minutes of Use From 15-Second Charge.

Apple-Pencil-iPad-ProApple co-founder Steve Jobs famously dismissed the need for a stylus when introducing Multi-Touch on the original iPhone over eight years ago, touting the finger as the best pointing device in the world.

“Who wants a stylus? You have to get them, and put them away, and you lose them. Yuck. Nobody wants a stylus. So let’s not use a stylus.”

Macworld 2007 was quite awhile ago, however, and Apple on Wednesday ultimately reversed course and introduced the Apple Pencil for iPad Pro, which it refers to as a creative tool for scribbling, sketching, annotating and editing.

Apple Pencil features a pointed tip with highly responsive sensors that allow for precise input down to a single pixel. To achieve this, Apple engineered the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro display to work together to detect position, force and tilt.

For example, as seen in the video below, you can press lightly for a thinner stroke, or press harder for a darker, bolder stroke. Likewise, you can draw with the Apple Pencil on an angle to produce broad, shaded strokes.

The iPad Pro’s subsystem scans the Apple Pencil’s signal 240 times per second, providing the tablet with twice the data points it would normally collect for a finger. This results in the Apple Pencil being very responsive, with almost indistinguishable latency, as seen in TechCrunch‘s hands-on video below.

Apple Pencil has a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 12 hours on a single charge, but more interesting is its ability to gain 30 minutes of battery life from just 15 seconds of charging. A magnetic cap hides a male Lightning connector that allows the Apple Pencil to be plugged into the iPad Pro to charge.

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Apple Pencil will be available in November for $99 alongside the new Smart Keyboard. While the Apple Pencil is officially compatible with the iPad Pro, it remains to be seen if the tool will work with older iPads as a traditional stylus

Short and sweet: All the new magical stuff from Apple’s big event.

Apple and Cook have plenty to cheer about.

From the iPhone to the iPad to the Apple TV, Cupertino’s constellation of magical devices just got a little more magical.

Did you expect all that Apple goodness? Most of what we heard today already churned through the rumor mill: the plus-size iPad Pro; new Apple Watch finishes and bands; a refreshed Apple TV with games, apps and Siri functionality. And, oh yeah, the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus with a whole new level of Force Touch, called 3D Touch.

There were even a few surprises, like the iPad Pro’s new Smart Keyboard and the iPad stylus, dubbed the Apple Pencil. But throughout today’s keynote by Tim Cook and his lieutenants, the series of under-the-hood upgrades they revealed promise to push all Apple products forward into the future.

Let’s take a moment to boil down all two hours and 10 minutes of this incredibly dense and surprisingly succinct Apple event.

Apple Watch gets more fashionable

More colors, more bands.

The Apple Watch got more watch bands, including some great leather ones from third-party makers. In addition, two new aluminum Sport models will be available in rose gold and regular gold colors. With the extra finishes, and a selection of bands that are both bolder and more subtle, you’ll be able to really customize the look of your Apple Watch.The new watchOS 2 allows an unprecedented amount of direct control via apps, like the demoed Facebook Messenger, iTranslate (real-time language translation right on the Apple Watch), a GoPro watch app that functions as a viewfinder, and a new medical app that shows live heart-rate stats for everyone, including pregnant mothers and their babies.

iPad goes pro

Amazing price point for such a massive upgrade.

The iPad Pro was as sexy as anticipated, with a 12.9-inch screen so large that you can set the screen of an iPad Air 2 in portrait across the left-hand side of an iPad Pro in landscape. There are 2,732 by 2,048 pixels for a total of 5.6 million, delivering more pixels than even a 15-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display. There’s an A9X chip inside, which is 1.8 times faster than the previous chip in the iPad Air 2.“This is desktop-class performance,” said Phil Schiller.

iPad accessories: Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard

Not sure of that name, but I'm sure we'll all get used to it.

There’s a new stylus in town and it’s called the Apple Pencil. Priced at $99, it uses Force data to become the best drawing tool you’ve ever used with an iPad. Apple Pencil might be a goofy name, even a bit pretentious, but it looks amazing: It’s powered by its own built-in Lightning port, just under where the eraser would be on a regular pencil.

A new Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro will be powered by a little Smart Port (meaning you can say goodbye to Bluetooth pairing woes). It will cost $169.

Apple TV disrupts the living room

Want. Now.

The new Apple TV, available in October of this year, will cost you $149 for a version with 32GB of flash storage or $199 for a 64G version. It will have its own App Store and a new touch- and voice-enabled remote with an accelerometer and gyroscope, which make Wii-style games a reality on Apple’s set-top box. Looking for a gaming console for your kids? Why not get a $150 one that does what Nintendo’s does?Universal search ensures you’ll never have to jump into Netflix, Hulu, HBO or Showtime to find what you want to see again: Siri will look across multiple services and apps to get you to what you want. The future of TV is in those very apps, and we saw some amazing demos of the actual user interface itself (love those shaky new icons). Games like Crossy Road and Beat Sports, a new MLB experience, and a discount shopping app from Gilt mean new experiences on your big screen. Based on iOS, tvOS will power all these new apps, and it’s available for developers now.

iPhone 6s and 6s Plus: better, faster

Pretty in pink. I mean Rose Gold.

We knew iPhone upgrades would be announced at this event, but we were taken a bit aback by the possibilities when Phil Schiller showed off the new touch system, 3D Touch, which will add another bit of pressure sensitivity. Now you can tap, press lightly or press hard to get different effects. On the Home screen, you’ll get new contextual menus, like “take a selfie” on the Camera app icon.There’s a new A9 chip on the iPhone 6s handsets, with a built-in, always-on M9 chip. With the new phones, you’ll be able to say, “Hey Siri,” whenever you want — whether the phone is plugged in or not. She’s always available, and, as Schiller said, “Siri’s definitely sassy.”

Apple’s taking another path with purchasing these new devices, too, offering its own pricing plan that competes with the carrier’s own. For $32 a month, jsut a bit more than, say, AT&T’s own plan, you get the iPhone 6s, an annual upgrade, and Apple Care+, something you won’t find at your carrier.