iPad stylus Pencil will gain pressure support with the arrival of iOS 8 in the fall, with creators FiftyThree cooking up a new system for adjusting line thickness by how much of the rubbery tip is in contact with the display. Pencil, launched back in late 2013, took a natural approach to its hardware, with a wooden barrel, and instead focused on building the stylus' smarts into the companion apps.
It's those apps which are getting better, along with extra data passed to them in iOS 8. By tracking how much of the wedge-shaped nib is in contact with the iPad's display at any time, the thickness of the line left behind can be adjusted.
Traditionally, a "passive" stylus of this sort would only be recognized as a single point, regardless of the pressure the user is applying. The technology has also been criticized by many for being significantly less accurate than, say, an active digitizer like the N-Trig system Microsoft used on the Surface Pro 3, which supports direct communication between pen and screen.
Pencil's's new "Surface Pressure" system still isn't going to deliver that sort of accuracy, but it should mean more time sketching and less time adjusting thickness settings. FiftyThree had already baked in palm-rejection, as well as the ability to use the opposite end of the stylus as an eraser.
Pencil is available now, priced from $59.95, and works with the iPad mini and third-gen full-sized iPad or later.