It seems Apple might intentionally remove important functionality from its stylus

By , Feb 23, 2016

Apple Pencil iFixit teardown 008

The most recent beta of iOS 9.3 has removed the important functionality for the Apple Pencil: the ability to use the stylus accessory as a finger replacement to select options and menus in apps, swipe between apps, tap on buttons and use the Pencil for general navigational purposes throughout iOS.

If Apple does not change its mind and re-add this functionality in a final version of iOS 9.3, people who rely on the Pencil to edit content on their iPad Pro will be forced to use their hand to select tools in apps like Pixelmator, for example, marking a major usability regression.

As first noted by MacRumors, the disturbing feature removal which limits the Pencil’s functionality has enraged users who have grown accustomed to using the stylus for navigational purposes.

“Sources in the know confirm that removing the functionality of the Apple Pencil is a decision inside of Apple. It is not a bug they have overlooked for three betas. It is a decision,” according to a recent podcast by Relay.fm co-founder Myke Hurley.

MacStories founder Federico Viticci suspects as much, writing that “this is starting to feel like a conscious decision on Apple’s part”.

Serenity Caldwell, who wrote a series of in-depth article about the various aspects of the Pencil, opined in a post over at iMore.com that Apple should not remove any of the devices’ existing capabilities.

“The fact remains that the Pencil’s owners use those navigation options, and frankly, the idea that Apple would take away functionality that people have come to expect and depend on is a significant hit to usability and overall experience,” according to Caldwell.

The author underscores that the latest beta renders the Pencil virtually useless for tasks like editing videos in iMovie for iOS.

“It makes the Pencil useless for video and audio editing, creative pursuits that I’d hoped to explore further on the iPad Pro,” reads the opinion piece.

“I’d initially enjoyed editing and cutting several videos in iMovie for iOS with the help of the Pencil; now, you can only select and drag clips. You can’t cut a clip with the downward swipe gesture, nor can you scroll the timeline.”

We should not jump to any conclusions yet because features some time disappear from iOS betas only to be re-added in the last minute. That being said, and with Apple’s rumored March 15 event looming on the horizon and iOS 9.3 release being just around the corner, I’m afraid the software update will in fact make the Pencil less useful than it is now.

Source: MacRumos

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  • websyndicate

    They are preparing for pencil 2.0 which will have those feature done right.

  • pnh

    I’m sure if the FBI gets a court order, they will put these features back in.

  • I think that is beta’s issue. Don’t panic

    • Charles222

      Yep. It’s a beta, things come and go.

  • TJ

    Understandable, it’s a pencil not a stylus.

    • Anonymous

      Not ture, if your drawing or taking notes and already have the pencil in your hand, you wouldnt want to have to put the pencil down for one or two actions only to pick it back up. This would be like right clicking on a mouse, but having to push enter on the keyboard for the next command. Which is a waste of time because the primary input device e.i. (Mouse or pencil) will work perfectlly.

      • Morgan Freeman

        It’s not hard to use your fingers while holding a writing utensil. You wouldn’t turn a page in real life with a pencil, would you? Or similar actions.

      • Anonymous

        Sure you can do all those actions with the penicl in hand, but why have a added step when it is not necessary.

      • h4nd0fg0d

        The man to which you reply is an ignorant fool. I saw no point trying to make reason from complete rubbish. Anonymous, you’re better than that.

      • Anonymous

        Hahaha =]

      • the hood

        If the pencil has an eraser on the end, you could use it to turn a page. Geez. 🙂

      • Morgan Freeman

        Ok, you got me there!

      • h4nd0fg0d

        Ridiculous comparison to page turning a book. Every point you’ve attempted to make is utterly irrelevant. You, my non-friend are a disgrace to the man you portray in your thumbnail. Bullshit filtration system running nominally.

      • Morgan Freeman

        What an asshole.

      • John

        Do you scroll a piece of paper with a pencil or pen while writing? No.

      • Anonymous

        No you turn a page, but a digtal notebook you would scroll for the next page.

    • CtKiDd78

      People are always making excuses for Apple. If the feature is there, why remove it. It’s not like it’s hurting the pencil operation in any way. Next thing you know you will be only available to use it with a purchased app which Apple will provide for a modest fee.

  • A-thought

    It’s possible it’s just a beta issue, but I would not be surprised if they purposely yanked that functionality out. Apple has prided itself on the stance that a stylus is not to be used as a navigational tool. I find it funny that iPad Pro users are saying just how much they like using it in that way. Apple cracked the door open and its customers are just now discovering something that’s been a value for android and Windows tablets for years.

    Of course, allowing that use case to push forward would show that apple’s stance has actually been out of “touch” (no pun intended)..that while their improvements in touch input have been great, their stance that a stylus is worthless for a tablet has been way off. and I personally don’t think for a second that Apple would hesitate on pulling that functionality out just so they could preserve their predefined ideology. That’s what bothers me most about Apple. Their highest priority has always been about selling more devices, and they create (and are willing to force) an ideology on customers in order to preserve that goal. So if that means ignoring or blocking functionality that users are discovering and finding beneficial, so be it.

  • Mark S

    Poor “enraged” people. Their lives are so difficult.

    • Well not really, but if you pay £99 for a device and then have its functionality cut by half, I imagine you’d be pretty pissed. What would you have to say if Apple decided to shut down the App Store?

      • Mark

        Well we paid a lot more up front for the original iPhone with no App Store

      • Anonymous

        That was before smart phones had taken off and a presdence hadnt been set. If apple did just that tomorrow android sales would go through the roof. I would switch for sure at that point. Not saying i have a ton of app on my phone because i dont. But i buy apple products for there services that i have been investing since the age of the ipod.

    • CtKiDd78

      Poor “content” people with whatever Apple throws their way. I love Apple products but I am not going to make excuses for them. I pay good money for all their products just to find out that I can’t use it a certain way, when in this case it is not hurting the operation of the pencil in any way. In that case let them take away Siri’s system control for toggles and apps since it’s more intuitive to use the finger.

    • h4nd0fg0d

      Must not own or use one, obviously. Correct? Correct. Thanks for so much of nothing. Jstfu, next time.

  • Laga Mahesa

    This is a usability aspect that impacts the purchasing decision for the iPad Pro. Take it away, and a lot of people will want their money back.

    • John

      Good luck with that one. It’s never been advertised as a feature so what are you going to demand a refund based on?

  • lookHOWMADheis

    Don’t worry everybody, I’ll jailbreak the pencil for you guys!

  • White Michael Jackson

    Apple knows what best for me.

  • Jerry

    Pretty sure this a beta issue they most likely took this feature off to test something

    • Anonymous

      I agree with you. I doubt apple gas purposly removed because apple users where using it as a feture.

  • ClaudieX X

    May be a patents problem…

  • John

    So after Ive said that the Apple Pencil is designed to be used AS A PENCIL, is there any marketing material from Apple that saus this can be used as a scrolling tool?

    • Anonymous

      There isnt, but there are videos in recent time of them saying develepers and users alike have used apple products in ways they never imaged.

  • trumpet444

    lots of apologists in this comment section.

  • John

    I think for the first time I have to disagree with the title, to “remove important functionality” from the Apple Pencil would be to remove the ability to write with it. To “remove an additional feature which was never advertised or promoted by Apple” would be to remove scrolling.

  • Alex

    anyone thought about that?:
    maybe Apple is removing that feature for the upcoming iPad Air 3, where the pencils uability shall be limited to have a unique selling point for the iPad Pro. Only the iPad Pro then will have full functionality for the pencil!

  • the hood

    You’re holding it wrong.

  • h4nd0fg0d

    Très pathetique

  • h4nd0fg0d

    Gotta start steering clear of iDB comment section as a favor to myself and the indolent creteons that proliferate it. Such a mess of irrelevant bullshit. iDB, you could hire me as a monitor to curb the illogical and moronic comments, but trolling these tards is fun to do for free. Majority of these ppl couldn’t argue about or debate their way out of a wet paper bag.

    • Morgan Freeman

      Oh look, it’s the 3 IQ thought police to the rescue. Go FYS, m0ngr0l0id