Pencil, a high-end iPad stylus that looks like a carpenter’s pencil, will add pressure-sensing capabilities this fall.
FiftyThree, the New York- and Seattle-based company that designed the Pencil, is announcing the new feature this morning.
A video shows how the feature works. There’s not a true pressure sensor in either the iPad or the Pencil, but the Pencil’s rubber tip is angled and slightly flexible, so the more of it that presses against the screen, the wider or darker the mark will be. Sketch lightly with the point of the Pencil, and you’ll get a fine line. Angle it so the whole flat edge of the tip is against the screen, and you can fill in big swathes of ink or pencil-like shading.
The same trick will work with the Pencil’s eraser tip for removing digital ink from small or large areas, depending on the angle you hold it.
The new feature will be available once iOS 8 ships later this year. It will be a free upgrade for current Pencil users.
Pencil, however, is not free. The “Graphite” Pencil costs $60, while a “Walnut” version goes for $75.
By comparison, a real carpenter’s pencil goes for about 19 cents at Home Depot.
Pencil, however, has won praise from a slew of design-loving publications like Wired and even picked up a Crunchie for “Best Design” for 2013. VentureBeat, along with TechCrunch and GigaOm, are the sponsors and judges of the Crunchie Awards.
FiftyThree also designed the popular sketching app Paper, which it says has been downloaded by millions of people. Paper is free — but it does require you to have an iPad or iPhone.
By comparison, real paper costs a few cents a sheet and requires no digital device.
But if you miss paper while you’re using Paper, you can send your Paper sketches to FiftyThree, which will bind them into a Moleskine-style book, called Book. That will cost you just $40.
By comparison, a real Moleskine is about $15 on Amazon.