The new Apple Pencil

Ever since I saw that first Apple Pencil 2 reveal, I’ve been struck by the genius of having the Apple Pencil stick to the side of the new iPad Pro, giving it a secure place to live and keeping it from rolling away. But most importantly, it makes charging so much easier.

I’m fascinated by this design choice and have been reading every review I can find. A couple of review points jumped out at me.

First, there’s this review from 9to5Mac’s Zac Hall. Zac loves the fact that the new Apple Pencil sticks to the iPad case and charges inductively, but:

One early concern, however, is that the magnetic charging and attachment side is on the right of the iPad Pro when holding it with Face ID at the top center. If I were right-handed, this would be ideal as Apple Pencil would always be there to grab and start writing with as needed.

As a left-handed person, I find that I hold the iPad in my right hand and navigate with my left hand. It’s slightly less natural to reach across the iPad for the Pencil when annotating something quickly. Technically you can use the iPad Pro in any orientation including upside down. I tried this method and much preferred the Apple Pencil on the left side, but then the volume and power buttons are moved and FaceTime calls have a nostril vantage point. I think I’ll just learn to reach across the iPad.

Not a big deal, but as a left-handed person, I do feel his pain.

Another early observation is that the new magnetic storage method is no issue when the iPad Pro is in landscape orientation and the Apple Pencil is on top, but it’s a little awkward to grab or hold the iPad Pro from the right side in portrait orientation with the Apple Pencil attached. I haven’t knocked it off, but it’s just in the way. Maybe I’ll adjust to holding the iPad Pro in my left hand.

Again, not a big deal, but it would be a win if a future version allowed charging from either side. A subtle point, but worth noting.

Another interesting bit is from Matthew Panzarino’s excellent iPad Pro review:

Many of the internal components are very similar to the first-generation Pencil, but one of the new ones is a capacitive band that covers the bottom third of the pencil from the tip upwards. This band is what enables the double tap and it is nicely sensitive. It feels organic and smooth to invoke it, and you can adjust the cadence of tap in the Pencil’s control panel.

Basically, the bottom third of the new Apple Pencil is touch-sensitive, all the way around. So no need to fid the flat side of the Apple Pencil to double-tap. And, seems to me, there’s an opportunity for all sorts of gestures in the future. If Apple chose to, they could open up that capacitive band to developers, allow them to define their own gestures. The Apple Pencil could become a bit of its own computing device, a remote control of sorts.