Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Apple Pencil (USB-C)

Apple (Hacker News):

Today, Apple is bringing more choice to iPad users with a new, more affordable Apple Pencil. With pixel-perfect accuracy, low latency, and tilt sensitivity, the new Apple Pencil is ideal for note taking, sketching, annotating, journaling, and more. Designed with a matte finish and a flat side that magnetically attaches to the side of iPad for storage, the new Apple Pencil pairs and charges with a USB-C cable.

Hartley Charlton:

The new Apple Pencil features low latency and tilt sensitivity like the other Apple Pencil models, but misses out on pressure sensitivity, wireless pairing and charging, double tap to change tools, and free engraving. However, unlike the first-generation Apple Pencil, it does support Apple Pencil hover on the latest iPad Pro models.


The new Apple Pencil is priced at $79 and launches in early November. The first- and second-generation Apple Pencil models continue to be available for $99 and $129, respectively.

It seems pricey even for a budget model, but at least now there’s no cap to lose.


Update (2023-10-24): John Gruber:

On the other hand, though, the fact that there are now three Apple Pencil models, all with different features and which are supported by different iPads, exemplifies just how over-complicated the iPad product lineup is.

Jason Snell:

This is a product that, at least in part, addresses one of the most baffling features of the 10th-generation iPad: support only for the first-generation Pencil via a rickety Lightning-to-USB dongle. This seems to be the Apple Pencil that should’ve been shipped a year ago for that iPad. Why did it have to wait a year?

After that, though, one might start interrogating the structure of the entire iPad product line, but don’t poke a stick in there—you might get a face full of bees. It feels like the iPad product line isn’t quite coherent, but the mess at the low end is the consequence of Apple’s Tim Cook-era strategy to keep old products around to hit specific price points.


But by keeping old products around, Apple is also free to release updated products more often. If Apple had determined that it couldn’t sell the 10th-generation iPad at a price its education customers would pay, it could’ve just… not released the product. Instead, we’ve got a messy product line with two low-end iPads in it, but at least people who want to buy a more modern iPad can do so.

Eric Schwarz:

Although Apple doesn’t share sales figures by model, I’d guess that the best selling iPad is the 9th generation model, followed by the Pros. These changes would create a good/better/best lineup that doesn’t lend itself to “should I buy the regular iPad, the iPad Air, or the 11″ iPad Pro?” and any accessories will work with any iPad (outside of keyboards that only fit based on screen size). The 12.9″ iPad has a very specific customer, as does the mini, so those can be the weird outliers. It may make sense to keep another “step” around in the middle, although it currently feels like there’s a lot of overlap in the middle of the lineup.

Update (2023-11-22): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Strange segmentation. Seems designed to complete with the Logitech Crayon. Makes me think they're going to rebrand Apple Pencil 2 as the Apple Pencil Pro and raise the price.

Probably still enough « old » Pencils in stocks so they keep them around until gone (I seem to recall reading about this kind of thinking is more pervasive with money-conscious Cook at the helm and maybe a more positive interpretation is that the huge scale of Apple production combined with the scrutiny of Mother Earth makes it an unavoidable situation at the cost of consumer confusion).

Thus I agree with the idea that we are heading towards a line with a simpler cheaper Pencil (they kept the same name and that’s a hint it will replace the existing model eventually) and a Pencil Pro (maybe even more expensive than the Pencil 2, and that will replace it). And no more numbers, just like iPad.

Removing features for price differentiation just feels spiteful.

I had an Apple Pencil 1st generation for the first iPad Pro. I held on to it so that when my kid was ready to do some sketching on a 8th generation iPad, she would have a stylus to use.

When I went to find it, I realised that I had given the Apple Pencil to a a relative in a different city. I wasn't game to order a new 1st generation Apple Pencil, so looked around for alternatives.

There are 3rd party pencils/stylii on Amazon/eBay that work quite like an Apple Pencil. Many have USB-C for charging, advertise palm rejection, and have no pressure sensitivity. They use Bluetooth. Unlike the 3 generations of Apple Pencils, they are advertised to work across multiple lines of iPads: Lightning and USB-C devices. (There are some incompatibilities).

And I bought one for Australian $20, while an Apple Pencil 1st generation costs Australian $140. 2nd generation Pencil is A$200.

They have a flat surface to avoid rolling off a table, and also to stick to a current model iPad Pro and Air (but don't charge).

They lack the Apple secret-sauce, where syncing is via plugging into the Lightning port or sticking to the side of the iPad Pro.

When I saw Apple's USB-c Apple Pencil, this was the first thing I thought of. If one can forgo the sync via USB-c port feature, then *maybe* a stylus that costs one-sixth the price is an alternative.

I don’t think anything is arbitrarily removed here. I think the feature set is determined by what works without pairing using the proximity radio that debuted in the Logitech Crayon.

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