The Upside of Changing the Way an Apple Pencil Works

Federico Viticci on the changed behavior of the Apple Pencil in 9.3’s beta:

Using a Pencil to scroll lists and interact with menus has serious benefits for people with RSI problems, and, I have to say, it’s just convenient if you don’t want to switch back and forth between touch and Pencil all the time.

I’ve heard this a lot lately, and I’ve noticed it too. At first glance it seems like a step backwards, but if you look at it more deeply you can see that this could be a boon for the Pencil as an integral part of iOS.

If the Pencil is not mistaken for a finger — it doesn’t control navigational elements and such — you add an entirely new layer of touch input to the device which is Pencil specific.

In other words, say you are reading a PDF. Your finger could scroll the page, and without any intervention on your part, the pencil could write on the page. No tapping to change modes, just boom. Yes this could be done with multi-touch, but that can be confusing at times — I can’t tell you how many PDFs I have drawn on accidentally by not getting the two finger gesture to scroll just right.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg too. While it would break some things, like audio editing, those things could be easily added back with support for the Pencil. I hope this change is real, because I think it has far more potential than it does downside.

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Article Details

by Ben Brooks
1 minute to read.


A change with potential.