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Jony Ive discusses why Apple finally made a stylus and named it Pencil

best drawing apps for the iPad Pro Apple Pencil
Image used with permission by copyright holder
In the early years of emerging smartphone technology, it wasn’t time to bring out the stylus. Or at least, that’s what Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs and his famed designer Jony Ive seemed to think.

In an interview with Wallpaper Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Ive said that initially, it was important for the company to focus on improving and building a UI (User Interface) based on multi-touch with fingers. But with the launch of the $100 Apple Pencil in September, we’re ready to be more “dexterous.”

“For some people it will be a graphic instrument and to others it will be a fountain pen.”

“What we found is that there’s clearly a group of people that would value an instrument that would enable then to paint or draw in ways that you just can’t with your finger,” Ive said in the interview. “And I suspect that this isn’t a small group of people. I don’t think it’s confined to those of us who went to art school.”

The Apple Pencil has multiple pressure sensors that allow users to draw any kind of line. It’s also paired with two tilt sensors to detect the angle at which the user is drawing the line. The utensil’s low latency is another highlight Ive mentions in the interview. But Ive said the Pencil is not supposed to replace the finger.

“I think there’s a potential to confuse the role of the Pencil with the role of your finger in iOS, and I actually think it’s very clear the Pencil is for making marks, and the finger is a fundamental point of interface for everything within the operating system. And those are two very different activities with two very different goals,” he said.

Along that line of reasoning, the name Pencil was specifically chosen over stylus, so as to avoid the idea of the utensil as another tech gadget, and more to evoke an abstract idea to match the possibilities of the Pencil.

“Pencil, to me, seems very analogue in its association,” Ive said. “But what is challenging is that it will become many things. There’s an incredible painting app and very powerful drawing apps. For some people it will be a graphic instrument and to others it will be a fountain pen.”

The versatility of Pencil is already being showcased on the App Store with several optimized apps, including Procreate, Paper, and Adobe’s app suite. If interested, you can read more about the Pencil on Apple’s site. We are currently reviewing the Pencil, so stay tuned for our impressions. In the meantime, you can check out our iPad Pro review.

Julian Chokkattu
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Julian is the mobile and wearables editor at Digital Trends, covering smartphones, fitness trackers, smartwatches, and more…
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