Apple’s new $99 stylus accessory, the Apple Pencil, has a lot more going than it looks at first blush.
In addition to its somewhat timeless design, remarkable precision and lag-free performance (courtesy of the iPad Pro’s improved multitouch technology), the clean-looking sliver of white plastic also utilizes super-fast charging via the iPad Pro’s Lightning port, a first for an iOS device.
In fact, you’ll be amazed to learn that it takes less time to provide 30 minutes’ worth of power to the Apple Pencil than it will take you to read this article.
According to Apple, it only takes a remarkable fifteen seconds to provide 30 minutes’ worth of power to the Apple Pencil when connected to the iPad Pro’s Lightning port.
That’s a lot of sketching and usage time based on just fifteen seconds of charging, if you ask me. Based on that data point, we can roughly extrapolate that it probably takes about six to eight minutes to fully charge the Pencil.
Again, this is just an extrapolation based on the fifteen second claim. It doesn’t help much that Apple does not list the Pencil’s battery capacity on its website.
We must also take into account that charging times typically grow longer after the battery has zoomed past the eighty percent mark, like on your iPhone and iPad for example.
Apple says that fully charged Pencil provides a total of twelve hours of use, which is quite impressive until you compare it to FiftyThree’s much-praised Pencil stylus which lasts for up to an incredible ninety days.
Apple Pencil vs FiftyThree Pencil
Moreover, FiftyThree’s stylus (shown below) has an eraser at the other end, unlike Apple’s Pencil. On the other hand, the iPad Pro can simultaneously accept input from both your fingers and the Apple Pencil.
Both accessories sense varying degrees of pressure and let you draw at various angles to create thicker or thinner lines and shades.
“Apple Pencil is designed to look and feel like a familiar tool,” says the Cupertino firm.
“Yet with its meticulously engineered technology, working with our most advanced Multi-Touch display, it delivers an extraordinary new level of precision.” The company makes a point of the fact that the stylus’s latency has been reduced to an almost imperceptible level.
Latency, latency, latency
When your iPad Pro senses an Apple Pencil, “the subsystem scans its signal at an astounding 240 times per second, giving it twice the data points it normally collects with your finger,” resulting in only milliseconds between the image you have in your mind and the one you see on the display. They’re also using software wizardry like iOS 9’s brand new predictive touch tracking.
To learn more about the technology behind the Apple Pencil, check out the company’s remarkable sleek video embedded below.
Don’t see the video embed? Watch it on YouTube.
The iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil and third-party apps optimized for both the new tablet and stylus will be available from late November.
The Apple Pencil is a $99 value and the iPad Pro starts at $749 for the baseline model with thirty-two gigabytes of storage.
Charging via Lightning
As mentioned, the Pencil charges through your iPad Pro’s Lightning port, marking the firs time the company has allowed an accessory to be charged through an iOS device’s internal battery.
In a typical Apple fashion, the Pencil’s Lightning connector is slightly elongated so you can charge the connected stylus even when the iPad Pro is in its case. Another accessory that will also be recharged via Lightning: the new Apple TV’s Siri Remote.
Apple Pencil vs Wacom Cintiq
Former Apple designer Linda Dong opined in an interview with Cult of Mac today that the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil are game changer for graphic designers due to their lag-free performance and robust software support.
Comparing the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil with Wacom’s Cintiq lineup of graphics tablets, she said Apple’s stylus lets you “actually feel like the pencil is leaving ink and can see the outcome of your drawing as it’s happening.”
Contrast this to the Cintiq’s unbearable latency causing her to “visibly see as I wait for my stroke to catch up with my Cintiq pen.”
How do you like the Apple Pencil so far?
I will be purchasing it for sure because it’s virtually lag free, unlike the vast majority of styli out there. On the other hand, as great as Lightning charging is I’m not sure I like the idea of a rod sticking out of my yet-to-be-purchased iPad Pro.
If I were Apple, I would have pushed the team to design a stylus that charges through the iPad Pro’s 3-pin Smart Connector, currently used to charge and magnetically attach the Smart Keyboard.
Doing so would have also allowed the Apple Pencil to rest magnetically on the iPad Pro’s side—but hey, what do I know?