Jony Ive explains why Apple Pencil is unlike any other stylus

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Jony Ive
Jony Ive wants to blur the lines between Apple's Pencil and a real one.
Photo: AP

In what seems to be less of a rare occurrence these days, Chief Design Officer of Apple Jony Ive gave an interview  about the iPad Pro for launch day. Specifically, he talks about the infamous optional accessory called the Apple Pencil. Being that most people at first glance will see this as an overpriced, $100 stylus, it’s fair that Ive wanted to state his case.

“We hoped if you are used to spending a lot of time using paintbrushes, pencils and pens, this will feel like a more natural extension of that experience — that it will feel familiar,” he told The Telegraph. “To achieve that degree of very simple, natural behavior, was a significant technological challenge.”

From day one, Apple promised that the Pencil would be far more than just an ordinary stylus. The Apple Pencil, paired to the iPad via Bluetooth, can sense the pressure you apply to create thicker or thinner lines, the tilt of the stylus to create a shade-in effect and offers almost no lag on screen. As much as possible, these features are meant to replicate a real pencil.

However, unlike a real pencil, you have to charge your Apple Pencil. It gets 12 hours of battery life, but what’s most impressive is how quickly it charges. Apple says 15 seconds of charging gets you 30 minutes of usage. And it plugs directly into the iPad’s Lightning port, drawing power from the tablet rather than a computer or outlet.

“We don’t like to have to charge multiple devices and manage them either so one of the things we’ve worked extremely hard on is the actual process of charging,” Ive said, reflecting on that important distinction from an actual pencil. He clearly understands that having to charge devices is still a limitation of modern technology.

The stylus (and iPad Pro itself) is most suited for creatives who, up until now, weren’t getting the best possible experience out of the iPad for content creation. Perhaps this sounds like a broken record by now, but Steve Jobs famously mocked the idea of anyone needing a stylus for the iPhone or iPad. Good thing he was careful with his words though — it turns out people shouldn’t need one, but some definitely do want one. Jony Ive recognizes this and revels in the idea of mindlessly using his own Apple Pencil to get artistic.

“When you start to realize you’re doing that without great intent and you’re just using it for the tool that it is, you realize that you’ve crossed over from demoing it and you’re actually starting to use it,” he said. “As you cross that line, that’s when it actually feels the most powerful.”

Check out Jony Ive’s full interview with Rhiannon Williams in The Telegraph.