The Fatal Flaw of the Apple Pencil

I’m not an artist.

I’m a highly mobile business user. I use my iPad Pro several hours a day, and absolutely love the Apple’s Smart Keyboard that goes along with it. It’s the primary way I interface with my tablet. Coupled with Office 365 and a handful of apps, I can pretty much do anything I need to do.

I also bought the $99 Apple Pencil because I’m a sucker for good marketing… and it is very handy to use. It’s especially useful with apps like PDF Expert so that I can mark up documents to provide feedback to my team. I only need to use the Pencil a couple of times a week though at most, and therein lies the problem.

When Apple created the Pencil, they designed it so it was always ready at a moments notice. I suspect if you’re an artist that uses it frequently throughout the day that’s a great thing. To facilitate that capability though, the Pencil holds an active Bluetooth connection open to the iPad, slowly draining the battery.

Since I carry it around in my backpack with my iPad, it holds that connection open and is generally dead and when I grab it. It takes less than a minute to get a very usable charge (kudos to Apple for that), but it interrupts my workflow so much that I’ve gotten in the habit of not using it.

The only way to prevent that from happening, is by either unpairing the Pencil or turning off Bluetooth. Both actions sever the connection and put the Pencil to sleep. Neither of those are solutions though, they’re workarounds, and I don’t believe in workarounds.

A better solution would be to design the Pencil so that a simple quarter twist of the cap would turn it on. That would be a very simple action that would put the user back in charge (pardon the pun) of their device, giving them the freedom to use it however they see fit. Artists could leave it on all day, and casual users like me to could turn it on at will.

I know Apple’s not a fan of anything that adds even a hint of complexity, but sometimes it’s important to account for multiple use cases.

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