What it is: The Apple Pencil is a stylus designed specifically for the iPad Pro.
Back in 2007 When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, he derided other smartphone manufacturers by claiming “Who wants a stylus?” Back then, operating systems like Windows Mobile could only be used with a stylus and perhaps poorly with a finger. Windows Mobile was designed to use a stylus so if you lost it, you couldn’t use the operating system as easily.
Now that Apple has introduced the Apple Pencil, pundits are wondering if Steve Jobs would have approved. First of all, Steve Jobs was deriding the idea of relying on a stylus to use an operating system. Back then, a stylus was basically a thin piece of plastic shaped like a pencil that you needed to point at commands on a tiny screen.
The iPhone completely eliminated the need for a stylus by creating a touch gesture operating system that made it easy to sue with your fingers. No stylus was needed when you already had fingers that could do the pointing for you.
Where the Apple Pencil shines isn’t as a necessary tool for navigating through an operating system. Instead the Apple Pencil is an accessory designed for artists and other people who want the ability to write and draw as naturally as using a pen or pencil. If you don’t need to draw, then you don’t need a stylus and can use the iPad Pro completely free of any stylus whatsoever.
The Apple Pencil is more than just a piece of plastic shaped like a pencil. It’s basically designed to work with the iPad Pro screen to detect tiny movement and pressure to create a lag-free drawing and painting experience. As such the Apple Pencil is an accessory to the iPad Pro, not a necessity. That’s the huge difference between a stylus and the Apple Pencil.
The combination of the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro will likely kill Wacom tablets. For decades, Wacom tablets offered drawing tools so artists could draw freely as if using a pencil or pen, but have their drawings captured as digital images. If you visit Wacom’s website, you can see many dedicated Wacom tablets running Windows and costing $1,000 or more. With the introduction of the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil that provides a far smoother drawing experience, you can expect Wacom tablets to fade away like the disappearance of Palm Treos, Blackberries, and Nokia smartphones.
Most likely someone will find a way to hook an iPad Pro to a Macintosh so you can use an Apple Pencil with an iPad Pro as a drawing tablet to capture images on a Macintosh. Artists already favor Apple products so this will simply cement Apple’s reputation as a tool for creative graphic artists.
The Apple Pencil is not a stylus. It’s a drawing accessory that not everyone needs. A stylus is something everyone needs whether they want to draw or not because you need to use a stylus just to give the simplest commands to a Windows Mobile device. Steve Jobs’ comment about a stylus is still accurate. We don’t need a stylus. We need the proper tools for the job and the Apple Pencil is one tool for the right job.