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Apple design guru Jony Ive discusses the iPad Pro's Pencil

Apple design guru Jony Ive discusses the iPad Pro's Pencil

November 18, 2015

The iPad Pro’s most talked about feature, its pressure-sensitive Pencil stylus, is the subject of a brand new interview with Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive. In it, Ive shares some of his unique insights into the design process behind the super minimalistic (and super smart) accessory.

Wallpaper has the interview, and the entire piece is worth a read if you have the time. There are, however, a couple of aspects which jump out, and especially Ive’s remarks concerning the Pencil. I don’t own an iPad Pro (… yet), but as an iOS fan looking in from the outside, the Apple Pencil has to be one of the most attractive aspects of the 12.9-inch tablet.

After noting that Apple didn’t want to create “a product that required another instrument,” Ive goes on, in the interview, to explain that there’s nevertheless a significant subset of iOS users who want to interact with Apple’s mobile OS in a more precise way:

What we found is that there’s clearly a group of people that would value an instrument that would enable then to paint or draw in ways that you just can’t with your finger. And I suspect that this isn’t a small group of people. I don’t think it’s confined to those of us who went to art school.

Apple has, at the same time, been very careful to call this stylus a Pencil. In fact, CEO Tim Cook has noted that, rather than creating and developing the stylus Steve Jobs said Apple never would, designers in Cupertino have invented something quite different.

The Apple Pencil allows for ultra-precise input on the iPad Pro.

The Apple Pencil allows for ultra-precise input on the iPad Pro.

Ive said:

I like the name Pencil much more than stylus because stylus seems a product that’s about technology. Pencil, to me, seems very analogue in its association. But what is challenging is that it will become many things. There’s an incredible painting app and very powerful drawing apps. For some people it will be a graphic instrument and to others it will be a fountain pen. One of the technologies within the Pencil means that as well as detecting pressure, we are also detecting the angle of the pencil. All of which is particularly relevant for being able to create a very natural experience. As an object it needed to be relatively neutral as it can take on the identity of a pencil or ink pen or paint brush or charcoal.

The good news for prospective Pencil owners, of course, is that orders of the device are now preparing for shipment (for those who purchased the Pencil soon after it launched online). This, it is hoped, should deter scalpers who are seeking as much as $400 for the $99 device.

For Wallpaper’s entire Jony Ive interview, which goes on to discuss Ive’s personal tastes in pens (that’s right — real pens) and more, click this link.

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