Apple's iPad Pro designers talk about thinness and the Apple Pencil shadow

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in iPad

In a rare interview, key Apple designers reveal why they gave the new Apple Pencil that digital shadow, and how it's part of their overall goal for the iPad Pro.

Tablet on a wooden surface displaying a digital pen and a 3D wireframe model of a fountain pen nib.
An iPad Pro showing designs for the digital shadow of the Apple Pencil Pro



When Apple launched the latest iPad Pro with an M4 processor, it also introduced the new and well-received Apple Pencil Pro. What it didn't do was point out a design feature that was delightfully spotted by users.

If an iPad Pro user is hand writing on the device, the Apple Pencil Pro appears to throw a shadow that looks like a fountain pen. Or if the user is painting, the shadow is of a paintbrush.

This is only something Apple would do because of its obsessive attention to detail. But now Apple's Steve Lemay, in charge of human/machine interaction, says it wasn't just done because it looked good.

"In the past, we had to rely on your own memory [of which tool you had selected," said Lemay to French technology site Numerama (in translation). "We have imagined a digital shadow to make you feel like you are holding a real pencil. This convinces you that it is a sheet of paper."

Lemay also said that just adding haptic feedback to the new Pencil "was one of the most difficult things." It required the Apple Design Studio to "rethink the entire architecture [of the Apple Pencil]."

Making the iPad Pro thinner was also difficult, say the designers, but one of them, Molly Anderson, called it the number one priority for the device.

"Portability is at the heart of the iPad experience," said Anderson. "In 2010, our design intention with the first iPad was to create a sheet of magical glass, a sheet of digital paper [and we] have never been so close to this original idea."

Anderson also says that getting to this form took iterating through many different designs -- and doing so in collaboration. "Our habit is to meet people in the studio," she said, "to put models on the table, sketches on the walls"

The result is what AppleInsider has described as luxury technology in an impossibly-thin package. The 2024 iPad Pro M4 is on sale now, with reputable Apple resellers discounting every model in our 11-inch iPad Pro M4 Price Tracker and 13-inch iPad Pro M4 Price Tracker.




Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    lam92103lam92103 Posts: 135member
    Apple like: We put a desktop class CPU in the iPad

    Also Apple: It's used to display a virtual shadow and No, you can't run desktop apps on it
    VictorMortimerwilliamlondon
  • Reply 2 of 7
    thttht Posts: 5,530member
    "In the past, we had to rely on your own memory [of which tool you had selected," said Lemay to French technology site Numerama (in translation). "We have imagined a digital shadow to make you feel like you are holding a real pencil. This convinces you that it is a sheet of paper."
    Hopefully they will have a setting and graphic design that just makes it obvious. No subtlety. Haven't tried the Pencil Pro yet, but the roll angle sensor combined with hover and the graphic design of a fuzzy line on the displays does indeed look like magic. They should really lean into it. 

    The shadow and the hover lets the user know how close the tip is to the display. That is really nice.

    Next up is the feel of the Pencil tip on an oleophobic, smooth, hard glass. It's too smooth and noiseless for me. They are caught between not having something that scratches off the oleophobic layer while things that can cause friction tend to be scratchy. Right now, you would have to give up the contrast of the OLED for a textured layer to get there.

    And, the scratchy sound is important. So important that I think they should simulate it through the speakers.


    Making the iPad Pro thinner was also difficult, say the designers, but one of them, Molly Anderson, called it the number one priority for the device.
    Yup. 0.7 lb for the 11" and 1 lb for the 13". 1.28 lb for the 2024 iPP13 model will hopefully be enough for it to be truly a handheld experience. Still, I think they need to shave off another 0.25 lb from that 1.28 lb. I would also get rid of the camera bump and go with lower performance cameras. Just have like four 6MP back cams that are 3.5 mm thick and do pixel fusion whatever, combining it into one 12MP image.


    Anderson also says that getting to this form took iterating through many different designs -- and doing so in collaboration. "Our habit is to meet people in the studio," she said, "to put models on the table, sketches on the walls"
    Hate this characterization of "design". The sketching, the models, the prototyping in a design studio is step 1 of 100 of a product cycle. The remaining 99 steps of the product are just as important, and it forces them to cycle back to new sketches, new models and new prototypes. They will have to do like tens of cycles for the outside and maybe hundreds of cycles for the inside. Just the work to write requirements (volume, shape, weight, electrical, power consumption) for the component vendors would drive most people to therapy.
    danox
  • Reply 3 of 7
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,043member
    Iteration, software combined with hardware and a attention to detail in time placing a M4 in a iPad Pro will be a blessing to those who buy it and with Recall Microsoft and Gemini Google around I don't think Apple is in a bad position this years WWDC is going to be fun for Apple.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMs18JdZAvc The first practical demonstration of the difference between tandem OLED and tandem OLED with Nano texture outside no one else bothered to actually show the difference they just talked about it.
    edited May 27 williamlondonAlex_V
  • Reply 4 of 7
    Stupid.

    A complete waste of effort.  Everybody involved should be fired.

    (Not the shadow, that's fine, if a bit silly.  Making it thinner was beyond stupid.)
    neoncat
  • Reply 5 of 7
    jayweissjayweiss Posts: 71member
    I purchased the iPad Pro M4 13” 1TB Standard Glass along with the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro and the new Apple Pencil Pro. Here are some facts:

    1) It is an iPad. It is not a “desktop” or laptop “PC” or Mac. 
    2) It is extremely thin and light weight. With the keyboard is it just 2 ounces heavier than my 2nd Gen. iPad Pro 11” with keyboard. 
    3) it is extremely powerful and fast. It is much faster and many tasks than my old iPad Pro or my 16” MacBook Pro (2019). 
    4) I can do everything I need to do in my daily life except doing application development. 
    5) The 13” OLED screen is fantastic. Bright, fast, and clear. 

    My wife actually asked me if I still needed my MacBook since I purchased the iPad Pro. Yes I do. 
    thtAlex_V
  • Reply 6 of 7
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,725member
    jayweiss said:
    I purchased the iPad Pro M4 13” 1TB Standard Glass along with the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro and the new Apple Pencil Pro. Here are some facts:

    1) It is an iPad. It is not a “desktop” or laptop “PC” or Mac. 
    2) It is extremely thin and light weight. With the keyboard is it just 2 ounces heavier than my 2nd Gen. iPad Pro 11” with keyboard. 
    3) it is extremely powerful and fast. It is much faster and many tasks than my old iPad Pro or my 16” MacBook Pro (2019). 
    4) I can do everything I need to do in my daily life except doing application development. 
    5) The 13” OLED screen is fantastic. Bright, fast, and clear. 

    My wife actually asked me if I still needed my MacBook since I purchased the iPad Pro. Yes I do. 
    Be careful.  She'll ask about your iPad Pro next LOL
  • Reply 7 of 7
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,212member
    A lot of apps aren’t making full use of the new pencil pro features yet. For example, in this browser window.
    but also apps where handwriting is used a lot. Eg onenote, or my favourite, Nebo.
    williamlondon
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