My Experience With the Apple Pencil

My iPad was dying. In the life span of today’s technological devices, it lived a long life and served me well, but it was slow and tired. It has been retired to the kitchen as a web browser, e-reader and recipe display device. When I heard the announcement for the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil last fall, I started drooling. The Tech Gods smiled upon me and I purchased an iPad Pro at the very end of last year. I immediately ordered an Apple Pencil, but it was backordered for 2 months!

I love the iPad Pro! As I’ve mentioned many times. I’m visually impaired, so I work in large print and zoomed text. The iPad Pro gives me the added screen real estate to make working on an iPad possible without turning myself into a contortionist. When I pair it with an Apple Wireless keyboard I can’t ever see myself going back to a laptop. Everything I need to do on the go, I can do with the iPad.

My Apple Pencil arrived in late February and I’ve been playing with it ever since. Sometimes the muse is just more forthcoming when I put pencil to paper, but I despise having a thousand scraps of paper flying around. My inner organizer likes to have a digital record of all my notes. With the Apple Pencil I can satisfy both the muse and the organizer.

My handwritten draft text of this post in Notability. Blue text, yellow background, wide ruled (like a legal pad).

I already had the app Explain Everything, so that’s where I started jotting stuff. I quickly moved to Notability because I liked the “paper” selections better. I prefer a yellow background with wide ruled lines. My ideal would be to use Evernote because that is my digital filing cabinet, but I have a strong preference for the yellow background, so I stay with Notability.

I also like to edit on printed page. This is another place where the Apple Pencil comes in handy. I convert my document to .pdf and import it into Noteability and then edit. At least there, I’m saving a few trees.

The rough draft for this post. Written in MS Word, saved to .pdf and imported to Notability (yellow background, black typed text). Corrections made in red.

Apple Pencil Drawbacks

I love the way the pencil writes, but there is a disconnect. I can capture my notes and even edit them in their native application, but the technology hasn’t made the leap to translating handwriting to digital text. I think things are headed that way, and suspect that like speech-to-text, handwriting-to-text will start slow and clunky and evolve into a more streamlined process.

My Apple Pencil with a purple pencil grip and the little connector doohickey positioned beside it.As delivered, the pencil is very sleek and smooth. I have a tight grip (some would call it a death grip) and I press hard when I write. I found the pencil slipped through my fingers easily. The problem was easy to fix with the addition of a ten cent pencil grip.

Another small frustration is that there is no way to tell how much battery is left. I’ve arrived at more than one meeting only to receive an alert that the battery was low. Thankfully it charges quickly via the iPad, or via an Apple Lightning cable to a portable charger, or USB wall connector. There is a little doohickey that allows you to connect the pencil to an Apple Lightning cable and it’s well … little. I’ve managed to hang on to it thus far, but I live in fear I’ll lose it. I’m sure like most things it is replaceable, for a fee.

Apple Pencil Bottom Line

The Apple Pencil is a “nice-to-have”, not a necessity. I like using it to draft and to edit, but I *could* live without it. That said, I don’t want to. When they develop software to translate the written word into typed text. THEN, it will be a necessity.

Have you tried the Apple Pencil? What are your thoughts? What is your favorite app?


Lee Laughlin is a writer, marketer, social media consumer and producer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at Livefearlesslee.com. She writes for the Concord Monitor and her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently working on her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction.

5 thoughts on “My Experience With the Apple Pencil

  1. I love mine. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body, but I can use it like an exacto knife to cobble together images for my blog banner. I also love the split screen on my ipad pro. It makes assembling guest posts and such a lot easier.

      • It’s in the ios for ipad pro. Slide your finger from the left margin toward the center. There are two settings, one at about 1/3, and one at 1/2 of the screen. You can open different apps at the same time. Sadly, you cannot open the same app twice – yet. I wind up with a Word document via email, and Apple Pages in the other window. This works great.

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