iPadOS makes Apple Pencil much faster and better [Opinion]

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Apple Pencil in iPadOS 13 decreased latency
At WWDC, Apple VP Craig Federighi revealed one of the ways iPadOS 13 improves the Apple Pencil.
Screenshot: Apple

Without changing the hardware, iPadOS 13 manages to decrease the latency of the Apple Pencil. And that’s just the start: there are also new features for non-artists to take advantage of this active stylus.

Check out our first impressions of using an Apple Pencil with the initial beta of Apple’s next operating system.

iPadOS brings even less latency in Apple Pencil

When talking about this stylus, Apple’s head of software development Craig Federighi said “Our goal is to have it be indistinguishable from making marks on a physical piece of paper.” In iPadOS 13, the company essentially reaches that goal… as long as you have the right tablet.

With last year’s iOS 12, the wait between the Pencil touching the display and the iPad registering the touch is 0.02 seconds (20ms). That’s quick enough that most people can’t tell there’s a delay. Nevertheless, with Apple’s next OS, that already tiny hesitation is cut in half, to 0.009 seconds (8ms).

Of course, this is only true for the latest iPad Pro models. Older devices should see some improvement in Apple Pencil latency, just not as dramatic.

Easy screenshot markups

A common use for the Apple Pencil for non-artists is making notes on screenshots. iPadOS 13 makes it easier than ever to do this with an Apple Pencil.

Dragging in from either the left- or right-hand corner of the display in any application with this stylus is all it takes to create a screenshot. This can contain just what’s on the screen, but some apps can include an entire document. The Safari browser can capture a whole webpage, for example.

Even better, these screenshots don’t have to be saved to the Photos app any more. They can be saved to the Files app, in any folder you wish.

Markup tools in iPadOS 13
With IPadOS, screenshots can include not just notes, but also arrows, text boxes, and magnified areas. Signatures can be added, too.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

New iPadOS drawing tool set

The drawing tools used in screenshots (and Notes) have seen a considerable upgrade as well.

The thickness of the various pens can be adjusted, as well as how opaque the digital ink is. The eraser can be toggled from erasing pixels to removing entire objects with a swipe.

And there’s a new clipping tool that allows you to chop off bits of image and move them around. Speaking of moving things around, the pallet that holds the tools can be pinned to any edge off the screen. And it can be minimized so it doesn’t take up so much real estate.

Some of these drawing tool improvements have appeared in iOS 12 updates, but they’re all in iPadOS 13.

Good news for Logitech Crayon owners

Anyone who chose the Logitech Crayon over the Apple Pencil should be happy to hear that our tests found that this less expensive option works as expected with iPadOS 13.

This third-party stylus can create a screenshot by dragging in from a corner, and the new drawing tools respond just as well as for our Pencil.

iPadOS 13 beta 1 vs. fingers

Any operating system pre-release version is full of bugs, and iPadOS 13 Beta 1 is certainly no exception. A handful of secondary features don’t work at all. That’s why we’re not overly concerned that we can’t use the screenshot markup tools with our fingers.

With this beta, an Apple Pencil (or other stylus) is required to add drawings to a screenshot. The same goes for the Notes app. There’s no way to draw anything with a fingertip.

At this point, we’re assuming this is just because iPadOS is still months from release. Drawing with a fingertip will surely return before the full version of this OS upgrade is released. Apple has never made a stylus a requirement for using an iPad; fingers have always been the default control system.