Everything you need to know to master 'Apple Pencil 2'

Posted:
in iPad edited December 2018
The second-generation Apple Pencil was released alongside the 2018 iPad Pro, and things are a little bit different this time around. AppleInsider explains everything you need to know about Apple's latest iteration of its iPad Pro stylus.

The old and new Apple Pencil models
The old and new Apple Pencil models


At face value, the new Apple Pencil is visually distinct from its predecessor. The Lightning connector and end cap of the old one are gone, improving the appearance while also making it shorter.






It also has a new matte finish, is thinner, and has one flat side, making it more comfortable to use. Overall, the new Pencil just looks modern in comparison, however the differences in the two models extend past appearance.

  • The Apple Pencil 2 is thinner with a flat side
  • The original Apple Pencil is slightly longer than the newer model
  • The tip of the Apple Pencil remains unchanged

Compatibility, Connectivity, and Charging

The first thing prospective Apple Pencil owners will need to know about is compatibility. The new Apple Pencil currently only works with the 2018 iPad Pro and vice versa, since the new iPad Pro has switched over to USB-C, therefore the old Pencil won't be able to connect to the 2018 models.

If you've got any iPad with Apple Pencil support that was released before the 2018 iPad Pro, you're going to need to buy the original Pencil.

Say goodbye to the Lightning connector in the new Apple Pencil
Say goodbye to the Lightning connector in the new Apple Pencil


The reason for that is because the second-generation Pencil has a brand new charging system that older iPads simply don't have the hardware support for.

While the original Apple Pencil required users to connect via Lightning to charge and to pair, the new version can be paired by bringing it close to the side of the new iPad Pro, to its cutout for wireless charging. The Pencil magnetically snaps into place, bringing up a prompt for pairing if it hasn't been connected before, while at the same time charging the accessory.

The cutout section of the iPad Pro used to holster the Apple Pencil
The cutout section of the iPad Pro used to holster the Apple Pencil


Now, every time you connect the Pencil, the battery life will be displayed and you can also check the battery life by looking at the battery widget on the widget page.

The Apple Pencil 2 power indicator
The Apple Pencil power indicator

Carrying and Cases

The great thing about this new method of charging is that the magnetic connection is very strong, so you can place your iPad into your bag or carry it in your hand without ever having to remove the Pencil. This basically guarantees a full charge every time you go to use it, as long as Bluetooth remains on.

With the old Pencil, charging while carrying your iPad in a bag wasn't practical since it stuck out quite a bit from the Lightning port. Attaching to the side for charging eliminates this design oddity, and makes it a lot easier to carry. We've done a few shake tests and have confirmed that the new Apple Pencil shouldn't fall off with regular use.

The Apple Pencil 2 attached to an iPad Pro
The Apple Pencil attached to an iPad Pro


There are no issues with using third-party iPad cases either, as every 2018 iPad Pro case we've looked at features some sort of a cutout that allows the new Pencil to pair and charge without having to remove the case. That means no more separate Apple Pencil cases or carrying sleeves!

Double Tap

The biggest addition to the new Apple Pencil is the addition of a brand new double-tap feature. Simply double-tap anywhere near the front-end of the new Pencil with your finger, and the iPad will switch to and from the eraser tool, making it incredibly quick and efficient to fix mistakes in your work.

Changing the double tap functionality in the Apple Pencil 2
Changing the double tap functionality in the Apple Pencil 2


If you go into the Apple Pencil settings, you can change double-tap to switch between the current tool and last used tool, show the color palette, or disable it altogether. If you want to adjust the double-tap duration, head to Settings, General, Accessibility and Apple Pencil for those options.

There are already a few third-party apps that support the double-tap feature, including ProCreate, Concepts, LiquidText, OmniGraffle 3 and more, and we expect a lot more apps to support it in the future.

Acquisitions

You can buy the Apple Pencil on Apple's website for $129, and you can even get it engraved for free. Be ware that you can't return it if you buy it with an engraving, because it makes it harder to recondition and resell.

Unlike the original Apple Pencil, the new one no longer comes with an extra tip in the box. This may be because a lot of people weren't aware of the extra tip, and it didn't really wear out on the original model anyway, but it makes replacement an extra cost on top.

What the Pencil Offers

Of course, not everyone knows what the Apple Pencil can actually do compared to a normal tablet stylus. In short, both the original and new Apple Pencil provides its users with a lot of functionality, especially for elements where a finger just isn't enough.

You can navigate almost anywhere in iOS using the Pencil that you normally can with a finger. You can swipe down from the center of the screen to bring up Spotlight search, use the Pencil to type, and even use the iPad's key flicking feature.

Typing with the Apple Pencil
Typing with the Apple Pencil


Unfortunately, you can't do a lot of the other gestures like swiping up on the home bar to go home, accessing the control bar or long-pressing to simulate a force-touch.

The second and third-generation iPad Pros also feature ProMotion, which allows the display to refresh at up to 120 times a second. This helps Apple Pencil lag reach a record-low 20ms, making using it feel even more life-like.

The Apple Pencil's palm rejection feature makes drawing and writing on a display much easier
The Apple Pencil's palm rejection feature makes drawing and writing on a display much easier


iOS features incredible palm rejection, so you can rest your hand on the iPad while drawing, making it more natural to do. The Apple Pencil also detects pressure and tilt, so using it feels like you're using an actual pencil, pen or marker.

There's Instant Notes if you need to make a note in a hurry. Just tap the lock screen with your Pencil to bring up the Notes app without having to unlock your iPad Pro. Inline drawing in Mail and Notes allows you to draw instantly, without having to tell the device when you're switching to your Pencil.

Older iPad Pro and Apple Pencil (left), Newer iPad Pro and Apple Pencil (right)
Older iPad Pro and Apple Pencil (left), Newer iPad Pro and Apple Pencil (right)


With new AI Machine Learning, iOS is also smart enough to read and understand your handwritten text, allowing you to find words using a Spotlight search. Of course, there's also the ability to sign documents and contracts using the Scanning app, allowing for the quick filling out and returning of important documents.

Given the constant updates made to iOS throughout the year, it is likely that more functionality for the Apple Pencil will be introduced as time goes on, for both the old and new models, making Apple's tablet-based writing implement even more useful.

Where to buy

B&H currently has the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil in stock for $129 with free expedited shipping. To compare prices across multiple Apple authorized resellers and to find the best iPad deals, please visit our iPad Pro Price Guide.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    We may now begin enumerating our grievances and outrage. I will go first:

    "Things have changed!"
    cornchipwatto_cobraRayz2016macgui
  • Reply 2 of 15
    The part about compatibility doesn’t make much sense to me. 

    Will it with the first iPad Pro or no?

    charging doesn’t equal compatibility. I can charge it in my MacBook Pro when needed. 

    Can you clarify?


    iman all Apple ecosystem guy. And it feels really weird having your two year old investment shorted like that. 

    For a major accessory improvement to not work at all would be strange. An adapter would also be an easy solution. 

    On the Mac side, accessories work if you keep the os updated. 

    On the iPad side, it seems an artificially imposed rip if indeed there is no compatibility. 

    Even if your ipad doesnt make use of EVERY capability (I.e. greater accuracy due to registers in the iPad hardware), as much functionality as the original pencil had should still be there. 

    Case in point: old pencil gets stolen. Need to buy new. Sees new one doesn’t roll away when put on desk. Wants that. Buys it. No work. Sad. 

    The charging bit can be done if someone doesn’t mind not sticking it on the iPad. The compatibility should t be a problem unless it’s Apple ripping recent customers. Can you imagine being the person who bought a pro months before and now hecan only use old accessories? Ouch. 

    Just being real. 
    edited December 2018 mac_128
  • Reply 3 of 15
    The part about compatibility doesn’t make much sense to me. 

    Will it with the first iPad Pro or no?

    charging doesn’t equal compatibility. I can charge it in my MacBook Pro when needed. 

    Can you clarify?


    iman all Apple ecosystem guy. And it feels really weird having your two year old investment shorted like that. 

    For a major accessory improvement to not work at all would be strange. An adapter would also be an easy solution. 

    On the Mac side, accessories work if you keep the os updated. 

    On the iPad side, it seems an artificially imposed rip if indeed there is no compatibility. 

    Even if your ipad doesnt make use of EVERY capability (I.e. greater accuracy due to registers in the iPad hardware), as much functionality as the original pencil had should still be there. 

    Case in point: old pencil gets stolen. Need to buy new. Sees new one doesn’t roll away when put on desk. Wants that. Buys it. No work. Sad. 

    The charging bit can be done if someone doesn’t mind not sticking it on the iPad. The compatibility should t be a problem unless it’s Apple ripping recent customers. Can you imagine being the person who bought a pro months before and now hecan only use old accessories? Ouch. 

    Just being real. 
    Right on cue. 

    Yeah no, it’s not an “artificiallly imposed” barrier that prevents the new pencil from work on old ipads and vice versa. As always, it’s engineering. If you dont know this about Apple for reason, they don’t engineer-down in order to maintain backwards compatibility. If there is a better way to do it and it breaks compatibility with legacy products, oh well. Progress marches onward. 
    redgeminipacornchipwatto_cobraRayz2016
  • Reply 4 of 15
    The part about compatibility doesn’t make much sense to me. 

    Will it with the first iPad Pro or no?

    charging doesn’t equal compatibility. I can charge it in my MacBook Pro when needed. 

    Can you clarify?


    iman all Apple ecosystem guy. And it feels really weird having your two year old investment shorted like that. 

    For a major accessory improvement to not work at all would be strange. An adapter would also be an easy solution. 

    On the Mac side, accessories work if you keep the os updated. 

    On the iPad side, it seems an artificially imposed rip if indeed there is no compatibility. 

    Even if your ipad doesnt make use of EVERY capability (I.e. greater accuracy due to registers in the iPad hardware), as much functionality as the original pencil had should still be there. 

    Case in point: old pencil gets stolen. Need to buy new. Sees new one doesn’t roll away when put on desk. Wants that. Buys it. No work. Sad. 

    The charging bit can be done if someone doesn’t mind not sticking it on the iPad. The compatibility should t be a problem unless it’s Apple ripping recent customers. Can you imagine being the person who bought a pro months before and now hecan only use old accessories? Ouch. 

    Just being real. 
    Right on cue. 

    Yeah no, it’s not an “artificiallly imposed” barrier that prevents the new pencil from work on old ipads and vice versa. As always, it’s engineering. If you dont know this about Apple for reason, they don’t engineer-down in order to maintain backwards compatibility. If there is a better way to do it and it breaks compatibility with legacy products, oh well. Progress marches onward. 
    So basically you were looking for a predetermined answer to fit your sandbox of who’s valid and who’s hating. And saying that before anyone comments doesn’t negate the validity of what they said just because you wanted to paint a preemptive caricature. 

    The problem with that is that this doesn’t fit your little construct. 

    Read what I said and try again. Maybe we will get something constructive. Also, an iPad Pro bought a few months ago isnt a legacy product. Though it’s the previous gen, it’s not antiquated while still in use. So you might want to brush up. 

    Kinda hoping the author would chime in about actual conpatibility vs the shape of the charging interface. 
    edited December 2018 dysamoriamac_128
  • Reply 5 of 15
    Nope, you fit the construct perfectly because this sort of whining is predictable. You even went so far as to suggest an Apple conspiracy, that they “artificially” made them incompatible. They didn’t. They don’t work with each other for very specific engineering decisions, and the result of those decisions is a better product. And like it or not, this puts the older iPP and Pencil (which I own too) into a legacy category. They won’t be coming back. That’s just the price we pay for better products, aka progress. 
    edited December 2018 redgeminipacornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 15
    If you own or plan to own the new 2018 Apple Pencil, then you need this. http://kck.st/2SuJAj0
  • Reply 7 of 15
    The part about compatibility doesn’t make much sense to me. 

    Will it with the first iPad Pro or no?

    charging doesn’t equal compatibility. I can charge it in my MacBook Pro when needed. 

    Can you clarify?


    iman all Apple ecosystem guy. And it feels really weird having your two year old investment shorted like that. 

    For a major accessory improvement to not work at all would be strange. An adapter would also be an easy solution. 

    On the Mac side, accessories work if you keep the os updated. 

    On the iPad side, it seems an artificially imposed rip if indeed there is no compatibility. 

    Even if your ipad doesnt make use of EVERY capability (I.e. greater accuracy due to registers in the iPad hardware), as much functionality as the original pencil had should still be there. 

    Case in point: old pencil gets stolen. Need to buy new. Sees new one doesn’t roll away when put on desk. Wants that. Buys it. No work. Sad. 

    The charging bit can be done if someone doesn’t mind not sticking it on the iPad. The compatibility should t be a problem unless it’s Apple ripping recent customers. Can you imagine being the person who bought a pro months before and now hecan only use old accessories? Ouch. 

    Just being real. 
    Watching the video will answer your questions. Even reading the article will answer them. Don’t ask questions that have already been answered. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to charge the new Pencil any other way than wirelessly on the new iPad Pro. The original pencil is still being made and sold, as it’s compatible with the base iPad, as well as previous Pro models. Apple updates iPads and iPhones every year, as they’ve done for years. If you’re so worried that things are going to change drastically with the next update, then hold off until then to purchase. If you don’t like what you see, there are still plenty of places to purchase the previous versions at a discount.
  • Reply 8 of 15
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,958member
    Still no talk about the tip’s unreasonably slippery interface with the glass screen. Could we get an actual artist who uses these things for productive work on a regular basis to do a video instead of the Apple praising AI article writers?

    i think they put the quotes around the wrong part of the title. It should be around the word “master”, not around the name Apple Pencil II. 

    And just because I dislike people who rant about criticism, acting like anyone who has criticisms is a bad person: I agree with the question of compatibility being asked. Regardless of whether or not you need a new iPad Pro to charge the pencil, does it work on the older models or not? It’s a point of curiosity and practicality. If Apple chose to make them completely non-interactable with each other, it would be interesting to know why.
    mac_128cornchip
  • Reply 9 of 15
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,378member
    The part about compatibility doesn’t make much sense to me. 

    Will it with the first iPad Pro or no?

    charging doesn’t equal compatibility. I can charge it in my MacBook Pro when needed. 

    Can you clarify?


    iman all Apple ecosystem guy. And it feels really weird having your two year old investment shorted like that. 

    For a major accessory improvement to not work at all would be strange. An adapter would also be an easy solution. 

    On the Mac side, accessories work if you keep the os updated. 

    On the iPad side, it seems an artificially imposed rip if indeed there is no compatibility. 

    Even if your ipad doesnt make use of EVERY capability (I.e. greater accuracy due to registers in the iPad hardware), as much functionality as the original pencil had should still be there. 

    Case in point: old pencil gets stolen. Need to buy new. Sees new one doesn’t roll away when put on desk. Wants that. Buys it. No work. Sad. 

    The charging bit can be done if someone doesn’t mind not sticking it on the iPad. The compatibility should t be a problem unless it’s Apple ripping recent customers. Can you imagine being the person who bought a pro months before and now hecan only use old accessories? Ouch. 

    Just being real. 
    Watching the video will answer your questions. Even reading the article will answer them. Don’t ask questions that have already been answered. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to charge the new Pencil any other way than wirelessly on the new iPad Pro. The original pencil is still being made and sold, as it’s compatible with the base iPad, as well as previous Pro models. Apple updates iPads and iPhones every year, as they’ve done for years. If you’re so worried that things are going to change drastically with the next update, then hold off until then to purchase. If you don’t like what you see, there are still plenty of places to purchase the previous versions at a discount.
    “IMPOSSIBLE” you say? I seriously doubt that a stand-alone charging pad accessory couldn’t be created for it, either by Apple or a third party. The bigger question is whether the radios used for pairing or operation are somehow fundamentally different than the old iPad, in which case that would be a more significant hurdle.
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 15
    mac_128 said:
    The part about compatibility doesn’t make much sense to me. 

    Will it with the first iPad Pro or no?

    charging doesn’t equal compatibility. I can charge it in my MacBook Pro when needed. 

    Can you clarify?


    iman all Apple ecosystem guy. And it feels really weird having your two year old investment shorted like that. 

    For a major accessory improvement to not work at all would be strange. An adapter would also be an easy solution. 

    On the Mac side, accessories work if you keep the os updated. 

    On the iPad side, it seems an artificially imposed rip if indeed there is no compatibility. 

    Even if your ipad doesnt make use of EVERY capability (I.e. greater accuracy due to registers in the iPad hardware), as much functionality as the original pencil had should still be there. 

    Case in point: old pencil gets stolen. Need to buy new. Sees new one doesn’t roll away when put on desk. Wants that. Buys it. No work. Sad. 

    The charging bit can be done if someone doesn’t mind not sticking it on the iPad. The compatibility should t be a problem unless it’s Apple ripping recent customers. Can you imagine being the person who bought a pro months before and now hecan only use old accessories? Ouch. 

    Just being real. 
    Watching the video will answer your questions. Even reading the article will answer them. Don’t ask questions that have already been answered. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to charge the new Pencil any other way than wirelessly on the new iPad Pro. The original pencil is still being made and sold, as it’s compatible with the base iPad, as well as previous Pro models. Apple updates iPads and iPhones every year, as they’ve done for years. If you’re so worried that things are going to change drastically with the next update, then hold off until then to purchase. If you don’t like what you see, there are still plenty of places to purchase the previous versions at a discount.
    “IMPOSSIBLE” you say? I seriously doubt that a stand-alone charging pad accessory couldn’t be created for it, either by Apple or a third party. The bigger question is whether the radios used for pairing or operation are somehow fundamentally different than the old iPad, in which case that would be a more significant hurdle.
    Thank YOU. The only thing that is impossible is to have a discussion where legit concerns are mentioned without someone getting triggered. It's not impossible to make the new pencil backwards compatible. It's quite simple. Your suggestion is a case in point. So that leaves me with the original question asked that some folks would rather lump in with the charging aspect. I'll repeat it for those who would think rather than blindly follow: is the new pencil compatible with the iPad Pro from a few months ago if it were charged? It still pairs via Bluetooth, so it shouldn't be too big a deal. 
    edited December 2018 dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 15
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,378member
    mac_128 said:
    The part about compatibility doesn’t make much sense to me. 

    Will it with the first iPad Pro or no?

    charging doesn’t equal compatibility. I can charge it in my MacBook Pro when needed. 

    Can you clarify?


    iman all Apple ecosystem guy. And it feels really weird having your two year old investment shorted like that. 

    For a major accessory improvement to not work at all would be strange. An adapter would also be an easy solution. 

    On the Mac side, accessories work if you keep the os updated. 

    On the iPad side, it seems an artificially imposed rip if indeed there is no compatibility. 

    Even if your ipad doesnt make use of EVERY capability (I.e. greater accuracy due to registers in the iPad hardware), as much functionality as the original pencil had should still be there. 

    Case in point: old pencil gets stolen. Need to buy new. Sees new one doesn’t roll away when put on desk. Wants that. Buys it. No work. Sad. 

    The charging bit can be done if someone doesn’t mind not sticking it on the iPad. The compatibility should t be a problem unless it’s Apple ripping recent customers. Can you imagine being the person who bought a pro months before and now hecan only use old accessories? Ouch. 

    Just being real. 
    Watching the video will answer your questions. Even reading the article will answer them. Don’t ask questions that have already been answered. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to charge the new Pencil any other way than wirelessly on the new iPad Pro. The original pencil is still being made and sold, as it’s compatible with the base iPad, as well as previous Pro models. Apple updates iPads and iPhones every year, as they’ve done for years. If you’re so worried that things are going to change drastically with the next update, then hold off until then to purchase. If you don’t like what you see, there are still plenty of places to purchase the previous versions at a discount.
    “IMPOSSIBLE” you say? I seriously doubt that a stand-alone charging pad accessory couldn’t be created for it, either by Apple or a third party. The bigger question is whether the radios used for pairing or operation are somehow fundamentally different than the old iPad, in which case that would be a more significant hurdle.
    Thank YOU. The only thing that is impossible is to have a discussion where legit concerns are mentioned without someone getting triggered. It's not impossible to make the new pencil backwards compatible. It's quite simple. Your suggestion is a case in point. So that leaves me with the original question asked that some folks would rather lump in with the charging aspect. I'll repeat it for those who would think rather than blindly follow: is the new pencil compatible with the iPad Pro from a few months ago if it were charged? It still pairs via Bluetooth, so it shouldn't be too big a deal. 
    I think the answer is no. Apple does not appear to support wireless pairing on the old iPads, even though technically speaking it should be possible. The old Pencil pairs via Lightning, not wirelessly, so assuming the new Pencil pairs via the standard Bluetooth radio present in both old and new iPads, then Apple would have to write new software for the old iPad to implement it. It’s possible even if they are the same BT protocols, pairing the new Pencil requires confirmation the Pencil is attached via wireless charging. Again, that should be a simple matter of programming an alternate method in the old iPad software, but the reality is we don’t really know for sure. It’s possible that even if a wireless charging adapter were available that plugs into the Lightning port, and the pairing process uses the same BT radios (or a compatible radio built-into the charging dongle), that the method of communicating Pencil strokes and taps has changed completely — in which case, the Pencil wouldn’t work on its most fundamental level.

    The reality is, until the new Pencil has been dissected a bit further by someone to explain how exactly it works, we won’t really know if Apple imposed the limitation, or if it’s a hardware limitation that prevents it from working.

    What I do know is that the old Pencil will charge via the new iPad Pro, but won’t pair. That to me seems like an imposed limitation, in which Apple chose not support the same hardware pairing it had on the old iPad, by adapting the code via USB-C. If so, one could extrapolate the same mentality about the new Pencil being backward compatible. That said, if the wireless radio protocol the new Pencil uses is incompatible with the old Pencil’s radio, then that might be one major problem Apple can’t overcome. Or, lets say it could be by updating the firmware on the old Pencil to support the new iPad. But then let’s say the old Pencil won’t work with the old iPad anymore — then it gets really confusing not knowing whether an old Pencil will work or not anymore, and that’s a big problem.

    So until we know more, it’s kind of a moot theoretical debate. As it stands, neither Pencil is fully compatible with another generation of iPad.
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 15
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,958member
    I hadn’t even thought about not being able to use the old pencil on a new iPad Pro. That’s an even more irritating prospect. Is this absolutely confirmed?
  • Reply 13 of 15
    dysamoria said:
    I hadn’t even thought about not being able to use the old pencil on a new iPad Pro. That’s an even more irritating prospect. Is this absolutely confirmed?
    100% confirmed. Not being able to use the old pencil is the whole point. You don’t move onto a new generation of technology by allowing use of the old pencil. No one would feel the need to buy the new one. 

    Just read he compatibility section at the bottom of this page. 
    https://www.apple.com/apple-pencil/
  • Reply 14 of 15
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,378member
    dysamoria said:
    I hadn’t even thought about not being able to use the old pencil on a new iPad Pro. That’s an even more irritating prospect. Is this absolutely confirmed?
    Yes. Various people have confirmed that while the old Pencil can be plugged into the new iPad with a Lightning to USB-C adapter, the Pencil does not pair, nor does it function on the new iPad which is otherwise capable of charging it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 15
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,121member
    mac_128 said:
    “IMPOSSIBLE” you say? I seriously doubt that a stand-alone charging pad accessory couldn’t be created for it
    When that happens, then it will be possible, since we're all about being pedantic.

    Unless you can duct tape it to a current pad and get it to charge. Context matters.

    Apple Pencil (2nd generation) for 
    iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (3rd generation) 
    and iPad Pro 11‑inch

    Apple Pencil for
    iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (1st and 2nd generations), iPad Pro 10.5‑inch,
    iPad Pro 9.7‑inch,
    and iPad (6th generation)

    They can't be interchanged. (Apple's embolding, not mine).
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