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Will The Apple Pencil Be A Game Changer?

Apple’s keynote address last week primarily discussed upcoming changes to many existing Apple devices but they also mentioned a singular new product: the Apple Pencil which is a stylus created to use with the iPad Pro. Of course that then begs the question of if the Apple Pencil will be a game changer for not only the iPad Pro but also for app developers.

While Steve Jobs was never enamored with the idea of a stylus, the technological changes that have occurred since his passing make the idea of the Apple Pencil intriguing. In a rather ironic twist, he did say, “Who wants a stylus?” back in 2007 although the market was much different then. The iPad Pro will feature a 12.9 inch touch screen which offers plenty of room for creative work and actual use of a stylus in a functional, practical manner.

A focus on the professional

It seems like with this push of the Apple Pencil and the iPad Pro that Apple is squarely placing their crosshairs over the professional market. These items in tandem make for a powerful set of tools that a wide range of professionals might wish to employ.

Similar to other product launches, it looks as if Apple is taking a good idea that has been in existence with other companies and simply providing a well refined upgrade. While there other styluses on the market, the key seems to be crafting the right mix between quality and convenience.

Designers, for example, are a group that would love to have multiple tools available to have as many options as possible in their toolkit. The idea of an Apple Pencil and iPad Pro, which could also take advantage of other existing styluses, has to be intriguing.

The Apple Pencil

So what is the big deal? For $99 you can buy a stylus. It has sensitivity and tilt sensors, which means the harder you press the wider the stroke. It is compatible with apps like Mail, Notes and even Microsoft Office, which is an interesting pairing. Apple says that it will be so precise you can touch a single pixel on the screen with it.

How does it compare to current offerings? Well the company FiftyThree, which includes a few Microsoft veterans, launched their own stylus called Pencil in late 2013. It has a price tag of $50 and was made as a follow-up to the app, Paper, which happened to win Apple’s 2012 iPad App of the Year.

While the people at FiftyThree noted that the Apple Pencil will work with their app, they are also launching an improved version of Pencil that they hope will exceed what Apple’s product does, as well as Microsoft’s stylus which is for their Surface line of tablets.

On top of that, FiftyThree just launched Paper for the iPhone, turning the highly rated tablet app into something more with lists added to the already impressive drawing and sketching tools. So it is quite obvious that they are not sitting idle, waiting for Apple to pass them.

Is it a game changer?

As of right now the launch of the Apple Pencil does not feel like a game changer. The technology is already out there and in a sense Apple is stuck playing catch-up. However, one thing Apple has been very good at is joining a trend at the very beginning so it feels like the idea of improved touch screens and styluses are going to be something we see more of in the next couple of years making this more of a game starter or pre-game tailgate party.

It is rather easy to envision Apple’s new toy inspiring more people, like FiftyThree, to improve on their own products even more which happens when competition is introduced. Microsoft – we are looking at you as we type this. At the same time we fully expect Apple to improve upon their own idea and try and find new uses for the iPad Pro and their stylus as the number of users increase.

So what that should mean for people who develop apps is that you should start looking at ways to implement both current and possible future ideas into existing apps along with new app ideas. While we don’t think that the Apple Pencil will be a game changer for version one, we fully expect the iPad Pro and Surface to re-create how many industries perform certain jobs which will be a game changer in the near future.


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