How Apple Pencil works

I have always been a fan of Apple products and ever since the first Apple Pencil. I absolutely love drawing on my iPad and the with the Apple Pencil it became so much easier. I’ve always been fascinated by how it delivers pixel-perfect precision. Check out our guide on How Apple Pencil works for more details.

The Apple Pencil comprises a replaceable plastic tip which connects with the display of your iPad, the shaft which is cylindrical in nature similar to a pencil along with a charging mechanism. Apple Pencils are known for their precision, pressure and tilt sensitivity.

Over the years Apple has made changes to the design and the charging mechanism of the Apple Pencil and introduced the Apple Pencil 2nd Gen. Currently, the Apple Pencil is compatible with all iPads available in the market. However, it’s also a little pricey, unlike its contemporaries.

After using both Apple pencils for half a year and putting it through various stress tests, I found out the capabilities and limitations of these amazing styli. Most importantly I found out how they work.

Apple Pencils has sensors that not only to detect the pressure produced by the nib on the screen but also 9 axis gyroscope sensors to detect the angle of movement. a combination of these sensors help produce thin and thick lines and even shades. The algorithm or the brain processes this data and even helps calibrate the pencil to various iPad. This is the secret behind the accuracy.

How Apple Pencil works

With the changes in both versions, the method to pair the devices are different in either case. The design between both and methods of connectivity are also different. Let’s take a look at how different the Apple Pencil 1st and 2nd Gen are.

Connecting the Apple Pencil 1st Gen to your iPad

  • With the 1st Gen Apple Pencil, you will have to first power on your iPad and make sure the device is unlocked.
  • Once in, uncap the Apple Pencil and plug it into the iPad you’re using.
  • A Bluetooth pairing pop-up request will appear on the display, tap on “Pair” to have both the devices connected.

Connecting the Apple Pencil 2nd Gen to your iPad

  • If you’re using the Apple Pencil 2nd Gen, make sure to have the iPad powered up and unlocked
  • Proceed to place the Apple Pencil on the wider side of the iPad which houses the magnetic strip. Once the Apple Pencil is firmly in place a Bluetooth pairing pop-up will appear on the screen.
  • Tap on “Pair” to connect both the devices.

Upon following these steps you will be able to use the Apple Pencil on your iPad. However, if you’re planning on having the Apple Pencil paired with a secondary device, follow the same steps listed above on the new iPad.

Charging the Apple Pencil 1st Gen

Charging the Apple Pencil is not a complex task, simply pop off the cap and plug it in. There are currently two methods you can follow to have your 1st gen Apple Pencil charged.

Charging using the iPad Pro

  • With an iPad Pro, you can plug the lightning adapter of the Pencil directly into it to get it charged. Begin by removing the cap of the Apple Pencil. Slide the Pencil’s lightning adapter into the iPad or iPad Pro to commence charging. 
  • To keep the cap safe while the Apple Pencil is charging, place it next to the Home button on the iPad Pro, the magnetic strip will keep the cap in place.

Charging using the Lightning cable

  • Take off the cap from the Apple Pencil and connect the lightning adapter to a connector. Place the lightning cable into the opposite end of the connector and your Apple Pencil commences charging.

Charging the Apple Pencil 2nd Gen

2nd Gen Apple Pencils are the easiest to charge, there can only be one way to do so. 

  • Simply place the Apple Pencil next to the wider side of the iPad Pro’s body, the magnetic strip on the iPad will keep the Apple Pencil in place to charge. 

The Apple Pencil comes with Quick charge technology that can give you up to half an hour of use from charging the Apple Pencil for just 15 seconds. As a suggestion, it’s best to charge the Apple Pencil for a minimum of 10-15 minutes if the battery is lower than 20%, this helps conserve the lifespan of the battery situated within the Apple pencil.

Features of the Apple Pencil

With the Apple Pencil you don’t need any special application or menu for it to function on the iPad or iPad Pro. Once you have paired both devices you’re ready to draw, write or navigate in any app that’s installed on the iPad.

The Apple pencil does however have a efw interesting features that make it a unique device providing you with an exhilarating experience.

  • The Apple Pencil is a full pressure and tilt-sensitive stylus which does not include an eraser of any kind. The white nib on the Pencil acts as a primary interactor between you and your iPad and can erase your drawing by double-tapping the flat side of the Apple pencil. Tilting the Apple Pencil allows you to shade while pressing down harder creates thicker lines than when you draw with gentle brush strokes.
  • Users of the Apple Pencil 2nd Gen are provided with the ability to change the additional function which can be accessed by double-tapping the flat side of the Apple Pencil. While most applications would have the eraser configured by default, some apps like the Notes app will allow you to change this function to create a trigger that switches between the current tool being used and the previous tool that was used.
  • Open “Settings” on your iPad Pro.
  • Tap Apple Pencil.
  • You can pick between Switching off the feature, Switch Between Current Tool and Eraser,  Show Color Palette or Switch Between Current Tool and Last Used.
  • With iPad OS your iPad supports multi-touch gestures which allow your Apple Pencil to act as a navigational scroller. Though supported by the iPad OS, the feature can be utilized in an alternative way for example, in the Notes app you can touch the display using two fingers and the Apple Pencil simultaneously to generate a ruler that can help you draw straight lines with your Apple Pencil.
  • Once your Apple Pencil is connected to the iPad your iPad automatically enables the palm rejection feature. With the 1st Gen Apple Pencil, you were made to hold your hand so that your palm does not rest on the display, this caused some hindrances with comfort and the ability to do your work swiftly. With the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil and the iPad Pro, those worries are a thing of the past. 
  • The Apple Pencil can trace through paper, preferably A4 printer paper or Bond paper. This is a feature that’s beneficial to those who wish to draw something on the iPad by tracing the image from another source.

What to do if my Apple Pencil stops working

Though the Apple Pencil was designed to be a simple yet powerful device, it is bound to stop working thanks to a few reasons.

Loose Nib

Over time, the nib on the Apple Pencil can tend to wear off and  become loose. When this happens the connectivity between the display of your iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil will not be accurate as you’d have to change the nib. 

  • All you will have to do is take out the spare nib that is provided within the Apple Pencil box and replace the nib that’s old. Normally all you’d have to do is simply tighten the nib and it should work just fine. 

While using  the Apple Pencil, make sure not to apply too much pressure as that can damage the nib and reduce its lifeline.

Low Battery

The silliest thing to forget is that your Apple Pencil has to be charged. To check the battery level of the Pencil, scroll down on the notification center and check the levels of your Apple Pencil by tapping on batteries. 

If the Apple Pencil does not have any charge, plug it into your iPad for ten minutes and check once again.

Rebooting the iPad Pro

At times the Apple Pencil may lose connectivity with the iPad Pro and won’t connect. This is not because there is an underlying issue with the Apple Pencil, rather it’s to do with the iPad. Simply restarting the iPad should fix the issue.

Disconnect and Re-pair the Apple Pencil with your iPad Pro

If you’re unable to view your Apple Pencil under devices which means it’s not connected or there is an issue with the Bluetooth of the iPad and Pencil.  In this case you will have to disconnect or unpair the Pencil from the iPad and repair them.

  • From the iPad’s Home screen tap on “Settings”.
  • Proceed to click on “Bluetooth”.
  • Tap on the “Info” button to the right of Apple Pencil that is found under “My Devices”.
  • Now click on “Forget”.

Proceed to pair the Apple Pencil with the iPad once again by following the instructions listed under “Connecting the Apple Pencil” . 

Compatible Devices

Both variants of the Apple Pencil are not compatible with all iPad models. The breakup of which Apple Pencil can work on which iPad is:

Apple Pencil (1st Gen) 

  • iPad Air (3rd Gen)
  • iPad mini (5th Gen)
  • iPad (6th Gen)
  • 10.2-inch iPad (7th Gen)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd Gen)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st Gen)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch

Apple Pencil (2nd Gen)

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd Gen)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th Gen)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st Gen)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd Gen)

How Apple Pencil Works – Takeaway

The Apple Pencil is a great tool that has been designed for drawing, writing and sketching and in the case where it can replace your finger for navigation of the iPad OS. The Apple Pencil is truly worth the money if these are what you intend to do. However, it works well if you don’t wish to leave fingerprints on your iPad’s display. 

Either way, it seems to be an accessory that most iPad owners are after as it makes their overall work experience easier than without one. Check out our guide on How Apple Pencil works.

How do I know if my Apple pencil is working?

Other than checking your paired devices you can also see it in the notification centre under the batteries icon. If you haven’t paired it in a while or if it’s low on charge it might take some time to appear. Check out our guide on How Apple Pencil works for more details.

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