Jony Ive: Apple Pencil is made for marking, not a 'stylus' finger replacement

Posted:
in iPad edited December 2015
In an interview discussing Apple Pencil's design and subsequent development, Apple CDO Jony Ive said one of the team's main goals was to create an input tool clearly for making marks, not a finger replacement.




Speaking with Tony Chambers from Wallpaper*, Ive said Apple Pencil is in some ways a natural extension of Apple's iOS development. That Apple's multitouch user interface requires only fingers to operate makes it intuitive, but certain activities like drawing and sketching are better accomplished with traditional form factor tools.

"What we found is that there's clearly a group of people that would value an instrument that would enable then [sic] to paint or draw in ways that you just can't with your finger," Ive said. "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."

Apple Pencil is not intended to be used as a stylus, that is as a replacement for your finger. Ive believes the design itself makes it clear Pencil is to be implemented specifically for making marks, drawing, sketching and note taking.

"So we are very clear in our own minds that this will absolutely not replace the finger as a point of interface. But it is, and I don't think anybody would argue, a far better tool than your finger when your focus becomes exclusively making marks," he said. "The traditional pencil could have been replaced by a dish of powdered charcoal, which you dipped your finger into to make marks with. And that didn't happen."

"So we are very clear in our own minds that this will absolutely not replace the finger as a point of interface. But it is, and I don't think anybody would argue, a far better tool than your finger when your focus becomes exclusively making marks." - Jony IveTo realize Apple Pencil, Ive and company had to perform an analysis of the "traditional experience of the analogue world" before translating that experience to a digital medium. The process was a case study in Apple's design philosophy, as Ive's team distilled the act of writing and drawing down to the fundamentals, observing the "tiniest details of in terms of what we do and how we do it, and why we do it."

Apple came away from the exercise with a better understanding of how we as collective users approach and accomplish everyday tasks, information that can be applied beyond Pencil, Ive said.

Building those teachings into an electronic device was no mean feat. Not only did Apple have to find a way to cram sensors, a rechargeable battery and control hardware into Pencil's unassuming design, but it also had to develop new supporting technologies for iPad as well. Ive mentioned the system's low latency, a feature made possible by a bespoke display subsystem that samples Pencil-to-screen interaction 240 times per second. By comparison, iPad Pro collects data at half that rate when tracking finger input.

As for Apple's decision to name its new device something other than a variation on "stylus," Ive said he likes the Pencil moniker as it's "very analogue in its association." Assigning the tool a particular name was a challenge because Pencil will ultimately become many different tools thanks to pressure- and tilt-sensing technology. Apps available in the iOS App Store help push this idea of a multi-tool further along, with the current selection enabling use as a paintbrush, drafting tool, fountain pen and more.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 154
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member

    Yeah, okay, without mouse support I have no doubt that this will become the de-facto navigation method for those who bought the Pencil, when sitting at a desk working. Sorry but for the same reason why touchscreens on none convertible laptops don't work well apply to the iPad Pro as well, at least with the Pencil it kind of alleviates the awkwardness of having to reach across the keyboard. It's time Apple, you've already released the most hated stylus, now give us mouse support without having to resort to Jail-breaking our iPads. In reality and not Apple fanboy world were everything Apple does is golden, if the iPad ever stands a chance at being a true laptop replacement, archaic as it might be, a step back, whatever, mouse support is definitely needed.  Just using my iPad Air with MS Word and a keyboard, without a mouse, once, was enough for me to never do it again, especially now with these loooooooooooooooooong over due multitasking capabilities.

  • Reply 2 of 154
    Apple's design intentions are frequently lost or not communicated well, necessitating explanation like this one. In the meantime, people fill in the blanks with expectations born out of existing, similar products. One could say the Apple Newton had stylus input, but here, Ive makes a distinction between using a stylus to drive the UI vs using the Pencil (strictly) to draw with.
  • Reply 3 of 154
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,891member

    This is Jony's delicate way of saying, "Don't poke your eye out with it!"

  • Reply 4 of 154
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,049member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Relic View Post

     

    Yeah, okay, without mouse support I have no doubt that this will become the de-facto navigation method for those who bought the Pencil, when sitting at a desk working. Sorry but for the same reason why touchscreens on none convertible laptops don't work well apply to the iPad Pro as well, at least with the Pencil it kind of alleviates the awkwardness of having to reach across the keyboard. It's time Apple, you've already released the most hated stylus, now give us mouse support without having to resort to Jail-breaking our iPads. In reality and not Apple fanboy world were everything Apple does is golden, if the iPad ever stands a chance at being a true laptop replacement, archaic as it might be, a step back, whatever, mouse support is definitely needed.  Just using my iPad Air with MS Word and a keyboard, without a mouse, once, was enough for me to never do it again, especially now with these loooooooooooooooooong over due multitasking capabilities.


     

    Why do you want a mouse with iPad? I never thought, "Oh I wish I got a mouse!" I have wished for a stylus only for writing or drawing.  But a mouse? Explain what benefits would arise from using a mouse?

  • Reply 5 of 154
    kpomkpom Posts: 653member

    This explains why the Pencil can't be used to scroll or open an app.

  • Reply 6 of 154
    kpomkpom Posts: 653member
    [deleted double post]
  • Reply 7 of 154
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 13,001member
    netrox wrote: »
    relic wrote: »
     
    Yeah, okay, without mouse support I have no doubt that this will become the de-facto navigation method for those who bought the Pencil, when sitting at a desk working. Sorry but for the same reason why touchscreens on none convertible laptops don't work well apply to the iPad Pro as well, at least with the Pencil it kind of alleviates the awkwardness of having to reach across the keyboard. It's time Apple, you've already released the most hated stylus, now give us mouse support without having to resort to Jail-breaking our iPads. In reality and not Apple fanboy world were everything Apple does is golden, if the iPad ever stands a chance at being a true laptop replacement, archaic as it might be, a step back, whatever, mouse support is definitely needed.  Just using my iPad Air with MS Word and a keyboard, without a mouse, once, was enough for me to never do it again, especially now with these loooooooooooooooooong over due multitasking capabilities.

    Why do you want a mouse with iPad? I never thought, "Oh I wish I got a mouse!" I have wished for a stylus only for writing or drawing.  But a mouse? Explain what benefits would arise from using a mouse?

    Because it's big, and heavy. People will lay it down on a table and then realize their necks hurt from looking down, so they'll prop it up, and then their arms will hurt from reaching up to touch it, and will then think "I wish it had a mouse"
  • Reply 8 of 154
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post



    Apple's design intentions are frequently lost or not communicated well, necessitating explanation like this one. In the meantime, people fill in the blanks with expectations born out of existing, similar products. One could say the Apple Newton had stylus input, but here, Ive makes a distinction between using a stylus to drive the UI vs using the Pencil (strictly) to draw with.

    I understand where you're coming from but Ive's statement has no bearing to what is actually going to be. The only reason why he made this comment was to squelch any notion that their stylus would replace the iPads current finger touch paradigm, did it really need to have been said. Really, who cares if there is some among us who prefer using a stylus instead of their fingers, even it's because they don't like wiping their fingerprints off of their displays. Who are we to tell them that what they are doing goes against Apple's ideal intended use. I almost find his comment kind of insulting, many of us do things with our technology that was never even conceived of by the developers. The whole Jail-Breaking scene is predicated on just that line of reasoning, Think Different taken to it's utmost quantum definition. No though, there are rules to be followed if we are to use their products, whatever happened to that pirate mentality we used to all credited ourselves of having by using Apple products.

  • Reply 9 of 154
    shsfshsf Posts: 302member

    Does anyone get the feeling that the pencil tech will trickle down to at least the air if not the iPad mini too in the near future. Btw, well spoken by Ive, kinda had a deja vu feeling of hearing Steve.:(

  • Reply 10 of 154
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by netrox View Post

     

     

    Why do you want a mouse with iPad? I never thought, "Oh I wish I got a mouse!" I have wished for a stylus only for writing or drawing.  But a mouse? Explain what benefits would arise from using a mouse?


     

    I'm a programmer, try copying code from a site and than embedding it into your own using your fingers on an iPad, now try doing the same with a mouse while using your PC or laptop, you have just divided your time by a 3rd. Use multiple apps to compile data into a single source, the mouse is a God send. The reasons are actually vast and honestly if you can't see them, than your using your iPad for entertainment purposes. Which is fine but my needs are valid.

  • Reply 11 of 154
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,670member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    Because it's big, and heavy. People will lay it down on a table and then realize their necks hurt from looking down, so they'll prop it up, and then their arms will hurt from reaching up to touch it, and will then think "I wish it had a mouse"
    And the Relics of this world will finally realize that Damn! They should have bought a MacBook.
  • Reply 12 of 154
    dabedabe Posts: 99member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    Because it's big, and heavy. People will lay it down on a table and then realize their necks hurt from looking down, so they'll prop it up, and then their arms will hurt from reaching up to touch it, and will then think "I wish it had a mouse"



    When you say, "Lay it down on a table," do you mean as in laying down a book, a notepad, or a drawing pad on a desk, as in a library, perhaps? For centuries, people have handled that scenario quite well without needing a mouse!

  • Reply 13 of 154
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,034member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Relic View Post

     

    Yeah, okay, without mouse support I have no doubt that this will become the de-facto navigation method for those who bought the Pencil, when sitting at a desk working. Sorry but for the same reason why touchscreens on none convertible laptops don't work well apply to the iPad Pro as well, at least with the Pencil it kind of alleviates the awkwardness of having to reach across the keyboard. It's time Apple, you've already released the most hated stylus, now give us mouse support without having to resort to Jail-breaking our iPads. In reality and not Apple fanboy world were everything Apple does is golden, if the iPad ever stands a chance at being a true laptop replacement, archaic as it might be, a step back, whatever, mouse support is definitely needed.  Just using my iPad Air with MS Word and a keyboard, without a mouse, once, was enough for me to never do it again, especially now with these loooooooooooooooooong over due multitasking capabilities.


    Why would you need a touch screen if you already have a mouse with a keyboard there?

  • Reply 14 of 154
    relic wrote: »
    Yeah, okay, without mouse support I have no doubt that this will become the de-facto navigation method for those who bought the Pencil, when sitting at a desk working.

    The Pencil is a marking device, NOT a navigation method.

    I assume when using the Apple Pencil the user will cradle the iPad like they would a tablet to write on, or to draw on—NOT like using a MS Surface; sitting on a desk top, wired in place with its multiple ports and a keyboard front and center—like a vintage early IBM PC. The MS Surface is so retro in design I'm surprised MS didn't bring back command line interface and cassette tape mass storage.
  • Reply 15 of 154
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I just got my 128GB SG iPad Pro and I'm loving it so far. Just set it up so no real observations so far other than getting used to the full sized keyboard (I do a lot of thumb typing with my Air 2). No pencil yet though. :( I have another stylus but it's not something that supports palm rejection so using it in the notes app is frustrating.

    I get the sense from this interview that the Pencil is something people inside Apple really wanted to do, not something they be grudgingly did because someone in sales or marketing told them they had to.
  • Reply 16 of 154
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,034member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by KPOM View Post

     

    This explains why the Pencil can't be used to scroll or open an app.


    Put a piece of sponge on the other side of the Pencil, now you have stylus for other things including scrolling. Never have to use you fingers again except zooms.

  • Reply 17 of 154
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SHSF View Post

     

    Does anyone get the feeling that the pencil tech will trickle down to at least the air if not the iPad mini too in the near future. Btw, well spoken by Ive, kinda had a deja vu feeling of hearing Steve.:(


    Really, did you honestly needed someone to tell you how to use your device because if so I have all kinds of tidbits I could share with you. What's next, a dialog box that will appear every-time you use your Pencil to open up an app. "Dear user, we created the Pencil for drawing and and other inking related tasks, please re-frame from using your Pencil with your iPad for anything other than those tasks clearly outlined in the Pencil user agreement, kindly, the iPad team". I'm sure what brought this on was some annoying reporter who tried to be cute/clever with him by bringing up Steve's position on the stylus and the way it pertains to navigating a tablet and as Apple is in a precarious position on the matter, he tried to spin it in the best way possible. 

  • Reply 18 of 154
    Yet they completely botched the production ramp. I got the iPad Pro but is on a 4 to 5 weeks wait for the Pencil. Completely unacceptable, someone just misjudged the demand so bad. Apple owes us an apology.
  • Reply 19 of 154

    Wish List:

     


    • Female connector on pen, with a male-to-male adapter for those that prefer the male connector. I suppose a female-to-female adapter will work, too.

    • If a male connector remains, then a non-detaching cap where the connector emerges with a graceful spring-loaded "click".

    • A place to store the Pencil on the iPad itself. Magnetically?

    • An eraser tip.

    • Engraving/embossing option during ordering so that I can have my name on it.

  • Reply 20 of 154
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mubaili View Post



    Yet they completely botched the production ramp. I got the iPad Pro but is on a 4 to 5 weeks wait for the Pencil. Completely unacceptable, someone just misjudged the demand so bad. Apple owes us an apology.



    Apple does not owe you anything, except a refund. And to get their act together.

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