Addressing the device's strong resemblance to an actual pencil, Ive stresses that a familiar and natural feel is key to the user experience.
“We hoped if you are used to spending a lot of time using paintbrushes, pencils and pens, this will feel like a more natural extension of that experience - that it will feel familiar,” he says, carefully. “To achieve that degree of very simple, natural behaviour, was a significant technological challenge.”
Ive notes how that natural feel increases with usage to the point where the user forgets they are using a piece of technology and is able to simply focus on the task at hand. As an example, he points to his design team, which has experimented with tools other than traditional sketchbooks over the years but is finally finding the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil a natural combination.
“Many of us in the design team have worked together for 20 plus years. We’ve always drawn in our sketchbooks, and for the first time - despite flirting with some alternatives a couple of years ago - I’m seeing people starting to use the iPad and Apple Pencil. Our personal experience has been that there are definitely affordances and opportunities now that you have a much more natural and intuitive environment to make marks, there are clearly things you can do sketching and writing on the iPad which you could never dream of doing in the analogue world."
The Apple Pencil is a $99 accessory sold alongside the iPad Pro, although early customers may need to wait a bit to get their hands on one. While the iPad Pro is in some cases available for in-store pickup as early as today, the earliest Apple Pencil orders are taking a few days longer to start shipping out and shipping estimates for new orders have quickly slipped to 3-4 weeks.