Inability to Use Apple Pencil for Navigation in iOS 9.3 Appears to be Intentional

Over the course of the iOS 9.3 beta testing period, iPad Pro users running the update have noticed a disturbing feature removal that limits the functionality of the Apple Pencil. In the current version of iOS, iOS 9.2, the Apple Pencil can be used for navigational purposes, just like a finger. It's possible to tap on buttons, select text, scroll, swipe between apps, access menus, and access general editing controls in non-drawing apps.

With iOS 9.3, much of that functionality has been removed. The Apple Pencil is no longer able to be used for selecting and manipulating text or doing things like scrolling -- it's only available for selecting buttons and drawing, sketching, and writing within apps.

applepencil
Early on, Apple Pencil users thought the feature removal was perhaps a bug, but full Apple Pencil functionality has not been restored in later betas and the release notes that accompany betas have never mentioned the Apple Pencil's inability to be used for navigational purposes as a known issue. In a recent podcast, Relay.fm co-founder Myke Hurley said he's heard that the decision isn't a bug, but an intentional design decision.

Sources in the know confirm that removing the functionality of the Apple Pencil is a decision inside of Apple. It is not a bug they have overlooked for three betas. It is a decision.

Earlier today, iMore's Serenity Caldwell wrote an opinion piece outlining the issue and calling on Apple not to remove the Apple Pencil's existing capabilities. In her post, she points out the Apple Pencil can no longer be used for tasks like editing videos in iMovie for iOS.

But the fact remains that the Pencil's owners use those navigation options, and frankly, the idea that Apple would take away functionality that people have come to expect and depend on is a significant hit to usability and overall experience.

Worse, it makes the Pencil useless for video and audio editing, creative pursuits that I'd hoped to explore further on the iPad Pro. I'd initially enjoyed editing and cutting several videos in iMovie for iOS with the help of the Pencil; now, you can only select and drag clips. You can't cut a clip with the downward swipe gesture, nor can you scroll the timeline.

Many iPad Pro users have come to rely on the Apple Pencil as a finger replacement in some situations, and it is not entirely clear why Apple has opted to eliminate that functionality. iOS 9.3 is expected to be released in the spring, perhaps at Apple's March 15 event, which means the end of the beta testing period is fast approaching. As Caldwell points out, Apple still has time to re-add the Apple Pencil features back into the operating system ahead of that date.

Related Forums: iOS 9, iPad Accessories

Popular Stories

iPhone SE 4 Vertical Camera Feature

iPhone SE 4 Rumored to Use Same Rear Chassis as iPhone 16

Friday July 19, 2024 7:16 am PDT by
Apple will adopt the same rear chassis manufacturing process for the iPhone SE 4 that it is using for the upcoming standard iPhone 16, claims a new rumor coming out of China. According to the Weibo-based leaker "Fixed Focus Digital," the backplate manufacturing process for the iPhone SE 4 is "exactly the same" as the standard model in Apple's upcoming iPhone 16 lineup, which is expected to...
iPhone 17 Plus Feature

iPhone 17 Lineup Specs Detail Display Upgrade and New High-End Model

Monday July 22, 2024 4:33 am PDT by
Key details about the overall specifications of the iPhone 17 lineup have been shared by the leaker known as "Ice Universe," clarifying several important aspects of next year's devices. Reports in recent months have converged in agreement that Apple will discontinue the "Plus" iPhone model in 2025 while introducing an all-new iPhone 17 "Slim" model as an even more high-end option sitting...
iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

iPhone 16 Series Is Just Two Months Away: Everything We Know

Monday July 15, 2024 4:44 am PDT by
Apple typically releases its new iPhone series around mid-September, which means we are about two months out from the launch of the iPhone 16. Like the iPhone 15 series, this year's lineup is expected to stick with four models – iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max – although there are plenty of design differences and new features to take into account. To bring ...
Apple TV Plus Feature 2 Magenta and Blue

Apple TV+ Curbs Costs After Expensive Projects Fail to Capture Viewers

Monday July 22, 2024 5:11 am PDT by
Apple is scaling back its Hollywood spending after investing over $20 billion in original programming with limited success, Bloomberg reports. This shift comes after the streaming service, which launched in 2019, struggled to capture a significant share of the market, accounting for only 0.2% of TV viewership in the U.S., compared to Netflix's 8%. Despite heavy investment, critical acclaim,...
bsod

Microsoft Blames European Commission for Major Worldwide Outage

Monday July 22, 2024 11:55 am PDT by
Last Friday, a major CrowdStrike outage impacted PCs running Microsoft Windows, causing worldwide issues affecting airlines, retailers, banks, hospitals, rail networks, and more. Computers were stuck in continuous recovery loops, rendering them unusable. The failure was caused by an update to the CrowdStrike Falcon antivirus software that auto-installed on Windows 10 PCs, but Mac and Linux...

Top Rated Comments

farewelwilliams Avatar
110 months ago
*moves finger to select text*

*releases finger off the screen*

*iOS selects an additional character at the end*

*touches the screen to move the slider to unselect the additional character*

*it unselected too many characters*

*touches the screen to move the slider to reselect the missing character*

gg apple
Score: 58 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zwhaler Avatar
110 months ago
A $1,000 tablet can't use the stylus to navigate? Even worse is that it obviously can and the feature is being held back. Let's hope they enable it as they ought to.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
profets Avatar
110 months ago
I can see what Apple is trying to do, but losing the ability to use the Pencil for fine controls, like editing video and audio, and selecting text doesn't seem like the best idea.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Norbs12 Avatar
110 months ago
Yeah, that strikes me as being pretty odd. At least make it a setting you can toggle.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
teknikal90 Avatar
110 months ago
ain't no wrath like the prosumer's wrath.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Glideslope Avatar
110 months ago
Another asinine move by the "Executive Daycare Team." :apple:
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)