FiftyThree is making great strides to make the Paper and Pencil experience feel more like the real thing with technology they call “Surface Pressure“. By leveraging new APIs in iOS 8, the devs at FiftyThree have figured out a way to make the iPad aware of how much of the Pencil stylus is making contact with the screen, and then draw or erase accordingly. This will allow users to draw with the thin side of the stylus tip, and then shade large areas with the broad side, as seen in this video:
This new feature on its own is already great news, but I also think it’s worth noting that these features will work on the same hardware that people can own today: an iPad and a Pencil stylus. This makes the Pencil stylus seem like a much better investment, since it will actually have gotten better
since its release last winter.
One of the things I missed, back when I owned an iPad mini, was having enough space to draw comfortably. Even with the great zoom integration on the Paper app, the mini still felt a little too cramped to really get anything done; so I told myself a few months ago that one of the things I really wanted to try on an iPad Air was to draw a little more often.
I’m not an artist, but as I’ve become more immersed in the world of product design over the past few years, I’ve really wanted to make a go of designing something myself. I started making a few leather gadget accessories last winter, and the ideas for these items were initially stored in a little pocket notebook. It’s a lovely little thing to keep around, but I found I didn’t use it every time inspiration struck, simply because it didn’t feel like the most natural tool to use. My iPhone and my iPad are always on-hand, but it’s things like paper notebooks that I tend to forget in my bag, or at my desk at home.
So one thing I’m proud to share is that the iPad, paired with the unbelievably awesome Paper app, has become my sketchpad over the last few months. Infinite easy erasure and an unlimited number of pages have helped me bring my own little designs to life. I’ve been using the Jot Pro and Jot Script styli, and the whole process of drawing on a screen is feeling more and more natural with every passing day. It’s really an amazing feeling to store and create designs on a device I’m already committed to carrying with me everywhere. It feels like bonus functionality.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the iPad has enabled me to do something I couldn’t do before. Pen and paper have always been around, and I’ve been curious about design for quite a while now. However, I think it’s fair to credit the iPad and Paper with making design — which was once a very daunting prospect — into something approachable, and incredibly fun, especially for a bright-eyed newbie like myself. I feel like I’m getting optimal use out of this tablet purchase, without forcing it to do things that just aren’t comfortable enough to do on a tablet. I’m surprised at how much fun I’ve been having while drawing on the iPad Air.