When hardware and software work in harmony, it's a beautiful thing. And when such a pairing effectively mimics the analog world, it's thoroughly enchanting. Such is the case with Pencil and the forthcoming update to Paper—both just announced by FiftyThree. It's a bold move to name a drawing app Paper and a stylus Pencil, but after testing them both, we feel it's safe to say they nailed it.
"The pencil is a beautiful blend between function and aesthetics." – Georg Petschnigg, CEO and Co-Founder
Pencil has the size, weight and feel of a traditional drafting pencil, complete with functional tip and eraser. It’s available with a black anodized aluminum body or a sustainably harvested milled Walnut. Though Pencil looks simple, it’s a masterpiece in engineering featuring a rechargeable battery connected to the tip that can be removed and plugged in to any USB port for a full top-off in 90 minutes (which should power for a full month of usage). The weight of the tip assembly is balanced by the Bluetooth 4.0 sensor under the eraser. Keeping the form simple, there’s no power switch—Pencil wakes when you start drawing and goes to sleep after a period of inactivity. And then there’s a mysteriously placed magnet that conveniently secured Pencil to an iPad Smart Cover. Last, but not least, are the 14k gold contacts that are only revealed by disassembling the device, but offer the benefit of reliable and long-lasting functionality.
Though Pencil works just fine with any drawing application, it really comes to life when used with Paper. There’s no need to go in to Bluetooth settings on your iPad, simply touch the tip to the pairing circle in the tool tray and pairing is completed in moments. The updated application interprets the difference between Pencil tip, eraser, finger, palm and multiple fingers to offer a two-handed drawing experience that’s rather intuitive. Most satisfying is the ability to draw with Pencil and then blend with your finger—a nice addition to the two-finger zoom and rewind functions already in the app.
Images courtesy of FiftyThree