iPadOS 16.4 brings tilt and azimuth support to the Apple Pencil hover feature

With tilt and azimuth support, the Apple Pencil’s Hover Mode in iPadOS 16.4 lets you vary the appearance of strokes while holding your stylus over an iPad Pro.

Closeup showcasing the end of Apple Pencil with branding, with a blurred iPad Pro in the background
The Apple Pencil stylus was last updated in 2018 | Image: Daniel Korpai/Unsplash
  • What’s happening? iPadOS 16.4 enhances your Apple Pencil by adding support for tilt (altitude) and orientation (azimuth) to the Hover Mode feature.
  • Why care? You’ll be able to vary the appearance of strokes while holding your Apple Pencil over your iPad Pro.
  • What to do? Update to iPadOS 16.4 when it launches publicly.

iPadOS 16.4 enhances the Apple Pencil hover feature

According to Apple’s release notes for iOS 16.4 and iPadOS 16.4, the update improves the Apple Pencil hover feature by adding tilt and azimuth support, letting you “preview your mark at any angle before you make it” in apps like Notes.

This new Apple Pencil feature officially works on the 11-inch iPad Pro (fourth generation) and 12.9-inch iPad Pro (sixth generation), both introduced in 2022.

The Apple Pencil can already sense tilt and orientation when pressed against the screen. With iPadOS 16.4, the stylus will also detect these values in Hover Mode.

iPadOS 16.4 also fixes an issue with Apple Pencil responsiveness that may occur while drawing or writing in the Notes app. Apple is expected to release iPadOS 16.4 this week alongside iOS 16.4, tvOS 16.4, watchOS 9.4 and macOS Ventura 13.3.

What is Hover Mode on the Apple Pencil

Illustration showing Apple Pencil tilt and azimuth on iPad Pro
Tilt and azimuth sensing also works in Hover Mode | Image: Apple

Apple debuted Hover Mode for the Apple Pencil alongside iPadOS 16.1. Available on the second-generation Apple Pencil and the M2-equipped iPad Pro, it detects when the top of your stylus is 0.47 inches, or 12 millimeters, away from the screen.

Hover Mode isn’t automatically available in apps. Developers must explicitly support the feature to make it work in their apps. The same goes for sensing tilt and azimuth in Hover Mode. You should check that your favorite app supports Hover Mode first and then verify that it also senses tilt and azimuth while hovering.

Apps that support the hover feature, like Pixelmator Photo for iPad, enable live previews when you hover over the color adjustment presets. Or, when using the Crop tool, you can also hover your Apple Pencil over the canvas to temporarily see the original image or move it away to see the cropped result.

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