Apple Pencil Pro improves essential digital art tool, with a catch

Apple Pencil Pro launch
Image: Apple.

Paired with the new M4 iPad Pro and M2 iPad Air tablets, the Apple Pencil Pro adds extra sensors to be more responsive to artists’ actions while drawing and writing. Apple also revealed a redesigned Magic Keyboard and Smart Folio for its high-end tablets, increasing their portability.

As part of Apple’s Let Loose event overnight, the new stylus provides additional input methods aimed at replicating an actual pencil or brush. Located in the Apple Pencil Pro barrel is a sensor you can squeeze to access a quick menu, letting you efficiently swap between tools, colours, and line weight.

When you squeeze the pencil, it responds with a haptic response, registering your input. Plus, an integrated gyroscope recognises when you roll the pencil and adjusts the input accordingly. When drawing with a pencil or brush tool, rotating the Apple Pencil Pro mimics the angle of the tool for a more realistic experience.

Apple is also looking out for those of us who lose small devices. For the first time in its stylus range, the Pro model supports the Find My tracking feature. No more lost pencils down the side of your couch!

Unfortunately, the Apple Pencil Pro only works with the latest iPads. You’re out of luck if you don’t have an M4 iPad Pro or an M2 iPad Air. It’s a bummer for digital artists who want a more tactile stylus without needing to upgrade their tablet entirely.

Pricey Magic Keyboard more laptop-like

Exclusive to the new iPad Pro models, the new Magic Keyboard produces more of a MacBook-like experience than previous iterations. It gets a function row, an aluminium palm rest, and a bigger trackpad with haptic feedback.

Apple Magic Keyboard iPad Pro 2024
Image: Apple.

Based on the $1,699 starting price of the new iPad Pro range, Apple is further blurring the lines between laptops and tablets. The kicker is that the Magic Keyboard starts at $499 for the 11-inch model and $579 for the 13-inch version. It makes for an expensive outlay on top of the pricier tablets.

Whereas the Smart Folio case offers a comparatively more affordable option. Designed to protect and stand an iPad Pro upright, it costs $129 for the 11-inch size, with the 13-inch version priced at $159.

Apple Pencil Pro price and release date

At a price of $219, the Apple Pencil Pro costs the same as the existing 2nd Gen non-Pro model, while the base USB-C stylus costs $139. Pre-orders are live now, ready for the 15 May launch alongside the new iPad models.

While the limited compatibility is frustrating, the pencil’s added features promise to improve Apple’s already strong standing among digital artists.

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