Tags ‘Stylus’

How-To: Enhance Apple Pencil with a standard pen clip for carrying and stabilizing

Apple Pencil clip 16-9

Apple Pencil is a terrific digital stylus that transforms iPad Pro into a highly capable electronic sketch pad and notebook, but it’s dead simple design potentially leaves something to be desired for some users. For example, its cylindrical-shaped symmetrical body lacks a basic pen clip for attaching it to your shirt pocket or elsewhere, which makes it look prettier and simpler but means it easily rolls down inclines and can’t attach to cases or pockets. Apple has weighted it internally to sit in place on a flat surface cleverly with the Apple Pencil marking facing upward, but it’s still no match for a slight slant and where exactly are you supposed to put it?

This creates an obvious opportunity for accessory makers. There will surely be a market of add-ones for Apple Pencil, it’s just a matter of time of course, and case makers like Urban Armor Gear are already tackling the problem with solutions like this.

But I’m plenty happy with either a Smart Cover or Smart Keyboard, personally, and don’t much want a spot on my case dedicated for stashing the Apple Pencil. What have I found to work best for me? The novel idea of one clever Reddit user called texasdoesitbest posted late last month. Buy a particular basic mechanical pencil with a removable metal clip, detach it, and slide it on Apple Pencil. It’s a nearly perfect fit and only costs a few bucks.

Here’s what you need and how it works:

1. Apple Pencil, you wouldn’t have this problem to solve otherwise right?
2. Pentel Sharp Automatic Pencil, 0.5mm — I picked up a 2-pack for under $10.
3. Something to attach it to — it clips along pretty nicely to the fold of the Smart Keyboard and feels more secure than a magnet solution might.


Most of the work is in removing the attached clip from the mechanical pencil. I found that it’s secured on fairly well, but it does separate on one side without bending too harshly and slides off. It’s hacky, but I used a butter knife to pry it off.

Once the metal clip is freed, it’s time to attach it to Apple Pencil. You could bend it outward enough to fit over the removable Lighting connector cover, but I found it easier to slip it from the nub end which is pointed and smaller than the clip’s opening.


Once you get past the nub, Apple Pencil thickens and enough so that it easily lets the clip securely hug it and stay put. Just slide it upward to where you like it. After trying a few spots, I found that placing the clip part just to the left of the Apple Pencil marking on the metal band fits really well — it doesn’t obscure the tasteful Apple branding and it actually aligns almost intentionally with the Lightning connector under the cap.

It’s not an absolutely perfect solution: the band doesn’t fully enclose so there’s a white gap opposite the clip, you could potentially scratch Apple Pencil’s plastic casing or metal ring if you slide it on too tightly, and there’s both Pentel and Japan stamped into the clip band.


I have found it to be highly practical, however, and clipping it to the Smart Keyboard’s cover means I’m much more likely to have Apple Pencil around during leisure time for spontaneous doodling and not just in my backpack or at my desk. I’m not completely in love with how it looks attached, but there is something typical about the pen and clipboard effect it creates. I’m curious, now, to see the inevitable market of pen clips created especially for Apple Pencil to develop.


Pentel Sharp Automatic Pencil 0.5mm is sold from $6.00 on Amazon. Don’t have an Apple Pencil or prefer a less enormous iPad? Adonit Jot Dash is a recommended iPad stylus that features its own clip.

Filed under: How-To Tagged: Apple Pencil, case, clips, iPad, iPad Pro, iPad stylus, Life Hack, mechanical pencil, pen clip, Pencil, pens, Smart Cover, Smart Keyboard, stylus

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Zac Hall

December 13th



Poll: Will iPad Pro replace your MacBook?


Will iPad Pro replace your MacBook? With the iPad Pro officially going on sale today, there is lots of discussion about what this means for the iPad category. Can it be a true Microsoft Surface competitor? Does the addition of official keyboard and stylus companion accessories from Apple mean the company has finally changed its stance on so-called hybrid laptop/tablet devices?

While the majority of reviews praised the bigger form factor, pen input with the new Apple Pencil, and benchmarks on par with some MacBook models, many reviewers pointed out iOS as the limiting factor in making the iPad Pro a PC replacement or hybrid competitor. But does it need to be?

Apple’s marketing message for the new iPad Pro is unmistakably clear. The company is romancing pro users (like Disney and Pixar animators) for the launch of the new device with most of its ads and marketing material focusing on content creation possibilities with the larger display and new Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. And companies like Adobe are taking full advantage by making sure there is a lot of pro software available at launch. 

But how will YOU be using the new iPad Pro? Will you attempt to replace your MacBook or other device in one way or another? Or will the larger iPad Pro simply complement your current lineup of devices and add new possibilities to your workflow? That’s the question we’re asking in today’s poll, and we’ll be continuing the discussion in the comments below. 

Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: Apple, hybrid, iPad Pro, keyboard, MacBook, Microsoft Surface, poll, replacement, stylus

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Jordan Kahn

November 11th



The best iPad Pro cases, covers, keyboards & accessories

iPad Pro Apple Pencil

With iPad Pro officially going on sale tomorrow (possibly at midnight tonight Cupertino time if Apple follows past launches), it’s time to move our attention to accessories for the device.

Will you go the Apple route and stock up on the official but pricey Apple keyboard, case & cover, and Apple Pencil? Or perhaps you’re looking for accessories with features that aren’t offered by Apple’s. Whatever the case, below we’ve started rounding up the best of the best accessories for iPad Pro. Most are available to order now while a couple are coming soon. We’ll be adding more as they pop up in the weeks following the iPad Pro’s launch.

Cases & Covers & Sleeves:


Apple Smart Cover & Silicone Case: Apple’s official Smart Cover ($59) and Silicone cases ($79) will ensure you get a made-to-measure fit. The Smart Cover is made of “durable polyurethane” and is available alongside the new iPad Pro this week in white or charcoal gray. The Smart Cover gives you full protection of the display, while adding a silicone case for the back will give you full front and back coverage.


Gumdrop Hideaway case ($69): Gumdrop is always one of the first out of the gate with high-quality cases for new Apple products and that’s the case with the iPad Pro too. The company’s Hideaway case features a built in stand with multiple viewing angles, rubber reinforcements on the corners, a built-in Apple Pencil pocket, and it can be used together with Apple’s Smart Keyboard (below). It’s available in black, blue/green, white/grey, or red/black color combos and it’s up for preorder now with shipments starting November 25.


Waterfield Travel Express ($89) & Dash Sleeve ($59): High-quality, made in San Francisco sleeves are now available to order for iPad Pro from WaterField. The Travel Express comes in two colors with an optional shoulder strap, and the Dash Sleeve in two different colors with an option to add extra space to accommodate Apple’s Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro.


Luvvit Clear Grip ($15): A low cost option on the list that will give you back cover protection and still let you show off your iPad. Luvvit’s Clear Grip is a soft transparent TPU rubber cover for the back of your iPad but with a raised bezel on the front corners for a bit of protection for the display too. Available to order now. Ships Nov. 20.


DODOcase Multi-Angle ($79.95): Popular case maker DODOcase has its new Multi-Angle case for iPad Pro up for preorder with a look inspired by an artist’s journal or sketch book. It has an elastic band to keep the case closed or store the Apple Pencil or other stylus, and it’s available in four color options pictured above. You can order it now with shipping starting over the next couple weeks.


Catalyst Waterproof case: One of the first waterproof cases announced for the iPad Pro comes from Catalyst. The design is Rated IP68 waterproof up to 2m and still offers full access to TouchID, Apple Pencil, and speakers while still being waterproof. No firm shipping date or price as of yet.


Jodi Original Smooth iPad case (€90.08): If you want a leather sleeve, look no further than the Joli Original Smooth case for iPad Pro. Handmade in Amsterdam from full grain Italian leather and Dutch wool, it’s available to preorder now for iPad Pro in 3 colors (with 2 lining color options each) and with an option to add extra room to accommodate Apple’s new Smart Keyboard.


Smart Keyboard iPad Proipadprosmartkeyboard

Apple Smart Keyboard ($169): Apple’s official keyboard for the iPad Pro and the first it designed specifically as a companion product for the iPad. It doubles as a cover for the front of the iPad when closed and not in use, a water and stain resistant design with no crack between keys, and comes in at an extremely thin 4mm thickness. It also includes Apple’s new Smart Connector technology that allows it to easily attach to the iPad and charge, no wires required. At launch, however, it will only be available in a US English layout. 


Logitech Create: Made specifically for the iPad Pro and featuring Apple’s new Smart Connector from its own keyboard case, Logitech is one fi the first notable companies with an official, third-party keyboard for the new iPad. It’s launching alongside the iPad Pro this week.


Zagg’s Slim Book ($139): Shipping in December, Zagg’s new Slim Book for iPad Pro features backlit keys with 7 color options, two-year battery life between charges, and pairing and quick switching between up to 3 devices. It also has a cover for the back of the iPad that you can detach from the keyboard, allowing you to keep the iPad’s backside protected even when not using the keyboard.


Zagg Messenger Universal ($69.99): Also coming this month from Zagg is the less expensive Messenger Universal keyboard case for iPad Pro.

Apple Pencil & Styluses:

iPad Pro Apple Pencil

Apple Pencil ($99): Apple’s stylus designed specifically for the iPad Pro. Apple claims it’s been able to optimize the input device with the hardware so that Apple Pencil is super precise and a much more accurate experience overall compared to others. It lasts 12 hours on a full charge and takes just 15 seconds of charge time to get 30 minutes of use with the built-in Lightning connector.


Pencil by FiftyThree ($49-$59): And if for some reason Apple’s pencil doesn’t do it for you, or if you want something that actually looks like a pencil, the Pencil by FiftyThree is a stylish option that has an enthusiastic user base alongside the popular drawing app Paper by FiftyThree. You’ll also save $50 over Apple’s Pencil at $49-$59 for the Pencil by FiftyThree. 


Adonit Styluses ($15 and up): An even cheaper option (depending on the model) is one of the popular styluses from Adonit ranging from $15 up to around the same price points as the Pencils above.

Or check out cheaper and other popular stylus options.

Screen Protectors:


Iconic Pro Screen Protector ($4.85): Ionic Pro’s screen protector is a 0.3mm clear piece of tempered glass applied with an included adhesive and giving you the usual protection against scratches on the display. You can get a 3 pack for $8.85.

Or check out other screen protector options.

Check back soon for more… 

Accessory makers can email me at Jordan@9to5Mac.com to be considered. 

Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: Accessories, Apple, cases, iPad Pro, Keyboards, Logitech, Pencil, Smart Cover, Smart Keyboard, stylus

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Jordan Kahn

November 10th



Sweden’s Anoto Buys Digital Pen Maker Livescribe For $15M

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 09.41.16 The writing is on the wall for more consolidation in the world of startups… both literally and figuratively. Today Anoto, a digital writing company based out of Sweden, announced that it would acquire longtime partner Livescribe, another a smart pen maker, for $15 million in a deal that is expected to close this month. Specifically, Anoto says this is an all-cash deal and is based… Read More

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Ingrid Lunden

November 6th


The Stylus Still Rules The Galaxy Note 5

IMG_5457 The concept Galaxy Note 5 is at once a thing of genius and a nod to a benighted world before the modern touchscreen. Born in the swamps of the resistive LCD, the stylus lurched onto dry land and lives on as a reminder of our history. It is, to be sure, useful but on the Galaxy Note 5 it is a vestigial tool useful in parts of the world where handwriting is easier than tapping. But what does… Read More

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John Biggs

September 4th


iPad Pro planned for Sept. 9 debut with iPad mini 4; October pre-orders, November launch

Bill Graham Civic (Exposition) Auditorium, 99 Grove St, SF

Apple’s September 9th event is set to be one of the company’s largest events in history, as is reflected by the expansive size of its San Francisco venue. Besides a pair of new iPhones, the substantially revamped Apple TV set top box, and new bands for the Apple Watch, Apple is currently planning to debut a pair of new iPads at next week’s event: the long-rumored iPad Pro, and a refreshed version of the iPad mini, according to trusted sources…

The “iPad Pro” (which is actually the planned name of the device) is currently scheduled to hit retail outlets in November, following a pre-order campaign that will launch toward the end of October, sources indicate. While whispers within Apple point to the MacBook-sized tablet making its debut on next week’s stage, it is possible that Apple could still hold back the larger iPad for an early October event given the currently planned November ship date. Following recent announcements of Apple iOS enterprise collaborations with Cisco and IBM, sufficient component availability to meet anticipated year-end demand appears to be the only question mark at this point.

Nonetheless, the Bill Graham auditorium (pictured above) is a massive 7000-seat building, and sources suggest that it was deliberately chosen to reflect the event’s scope. They have said that next week’s event will include an “unprecedented” blitz of product introductions, even potentially outmatching last year’s iPhone 6, Apple Watch, and Apple Pay keynote at the Flint Center in Cupertino. If the iPad Pro is indeed shown off next week, sources indicate that the new iPad mini 4 will also be introduced alongisde it. A third version of the iPad Air is also in the works, but sources confirm that it won’t be released until 2016.

The iPad mini 4 will be a thinner version of the current iPad mini, including a faster A8 chip with support for split-screen apps first introduced in iOS 9. It will likely also include a pair of upgraded cameras. As for the iPad Pro, codenamed J98/J99 internally, the larger-sized tablet will be geared toward power users and run iOS 9.1, support a Force Touch-based stylus, and include speakers on two sides for a more pronounced stereo effect. The new iOS 9.1 operating system is said to bring additional tweaks to the iPad Pro, including optimized versions of the Siri and Notification Center interfaces. If Apple does indeed unveil the new iPads next week, another Apple event this fall can be ruled out.

Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Apple TV, force touch, ipad mini 4, iPad Pro, iphone 6s, November, October, stylus

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Mark Gurman

September 2nd



A Supercapacitor Stylus Is The Best Thing About Lenovo’s New Laptops

Lenovo has announced a couple new Thinkpad Yoga convertible laptops at IFA. Mostly, they’ve got the kind of upgrades you’d expect: thinner, faster, lighter. But as it happens, the most exciting thing is the decades-old tech powering the Yoga’s new Wacom stylus.


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Chris Mills

September 2nd


Review: Adonit’s new Jot Dash finally makes digital iPad styluses pen-thin and right-priced


I keep a box with around 20 iPad styluses next to my desk, so every time a new stylus arrives, I can easily compare it against its predecessors and rivals. There hasn’t been much functional innovation in the category for a couple of years, but stylus form factors, batteries, and buttons have changed, generally getting simpler and smaller after each generation. Even so, Adonit’s new Jot Dash ($50) surprised me. It comes less than 6 months after the release of Jot Script 2 (reviewed here), but looks and feels a lot different from its predecessor. Jot Script 2 costs $25 more, feels fairly thick, and uses Bluetooth 4 for (somewhat iffy) palm rejection. Jot Dash cuts both its price and size by dropping the Bluetooth hardware, while keeping the 1.9mm fine writing tip that made Script special.

Why would Adonit simplify its prior electronic styluses by removing Bluetooth? Perhaps because relatively few developers have been willing to add Bluetooth stylus support to their apps. Today, a stylus would be considered to have “good” software support if 30 of the 1.5 million iOS apps included hooks for its special features; Jot Script 2 lists just under 20 fully supported apps. So, like the $60 Lynktec Rechargeable Apex I recently reviewed, Jot Dash doesn’t require special software support — it has a simpler feature set that works with all apps and all iPads, including the iPad Air 2. It similarly includes a rechargeable battery, which gets topped off with any available USB port. The differences are the $10 lower price, and the fact that it feels a lot more like a standard-sized pen…

Key Details:

  • An electronic stylus as thin and light as a standard pen
  • Includes rechargeable battery and USB recharging dock
  • 1.9mm fine point tip works with all iOS apps, no special software
  • No Bluetooth means no palm rejection or extra button support


I’ve lost count of how many Jot styluses there have been before Jot Dash, but it suffices to say that Adonit has released many Jots before now — I’d guess Dash was the 10th-generation Jot or thereabouts. But it’s the first electronic Jot that’s as thin as a non-electronic Jot, with a roughly 8mm diameter versus the 10mm Jot Script 2 and 12mm Rechargeable Apex. Those numbers don’t reflect just how different the styluses look and feel, but the images below show how much thicker the Script 2 is than Dash; Rechargeable Apex is even chunkier. Adonit has even slimmed down Dash’s included recharging dock to the point where the all-plastic frame slides into your computer’s USB port, flaring out at the bottom to support the magnetic charging circle — the only metal part left on the design. There are also two color options: the version of Jot Dash I reviewed was jet black, and there’s also a silver version, both with the same black dock.

jotdash-2 jotdash-4 jotdash-3

Using Jot Dash is simple. Press the black bottom, like the base of a retractable ballpoint pen, and you’ll trigger a tiny green power light that’s hidden right above the silver shirt clip on the black aluminum tube. This activates the up-to-14-hour rechargeable battery, with the brief green dot signaling that the extremely thin 1.9mm plastic tip is conducting the mild electric charge necessary to interact with your iPhone’s or iPad’s screen just like your finger; if the power’s off, the tip won’t interact with your device at all. If you press the button again, the light will quickly flash red to signal that the power’s off. Jot Dash will also turn itself off after a brief period of inactivity.


Writing with Jot Dash is exactly like using other electronic but non-Bluetooth styluses I’ve tested, except for Dash’s unusually thin and light body. At 5.7″ long, it’s not the longest stylus out there, but the same as Jot Script 2 without the added thickness. Whereas Jot Script 2 was like holding a fountain pen or thick ballpoint pen, Jot Dash feels like a refined traditional ballpoint. The tip moves just a little relative to its conical metal frame, letting you hear a little click when it’s pressed against the iPad’s or iPhone’s glass. It still doesn’t feel quite like writing with a regular pen on paper, but comes closer than Rechargeable Apex, which barely flexes as its larger tip moves against a flat surface.


When used with an iPad, Jot Dash didn’t dramatically change the way I write. Adonit and others have used Bluetooth (with varying degrees of success) to enable stylus features such as pressure sensitivity, palm rejection, and erase/switch brush/undo buttons. These features have required app-specific software support but yielded unique results in supported apps. Jot Dash tosses these sorts of features in the name of universal app compatibility, and gives users the ability to write with a finer tip than their fingers, which allows for smaller, tighter lettering and more precise sketching, so long as you’re not resting your hand against the screen.


Jot Dash also feels comfortable enough to use as a writing instrument on Apple’s Magic Trackpad, which can be used for creating signatures within OS X’s Preview app, for instance; the same feature also works for signatures and notes on iPhones and iPod touches. It remains to be seen what will happen with styluses when Apple adds pressure sensitivity to iPhone and iPad screens, but assuming it doesn’t otherwise break styluses like Jot Dash, a pressure-sensitive surface could be a major boon to styluses without pressure-sensing tips, saving power while enabling the same functionality.


Jot Dash’s biggest selling points are its $50 price tag and slender profile, both of which make it a highly attractive alternative to earlier non-Bluetooth styluses I’ve tested. Despite shrinking Jot Dash in diameter, Adonit has found ways to preserve the key features expected of an electronic stylus — enhanced writing accuracy and a no-fuss battery solution — while adding a shirt clip, and including a convenient recharging dock that rivals omit. I really liked being able to use Jot Dash for several days worth of typical writing on a single charge, then recharging in under one hour with the dock rather than a USB cable. Based solely on its low price, this would be a winner of a stylus, but when its slimmer body and conveniences are taken into account, Jot Dash will be a hard stylus to beat without radically updating its features.

iPad, iPhone, iPod touch

Filed under: iOS Devices, Reviews Tagged: Adonit, battery-powered stylus, Jot Dash, rechargeable stylus, stylus

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Jeremy Horwitz

September 1st



Review: Lynktec’s updated Rechargeable Apex Stylus adds iPad Air 2 support at an affordable price


Everyone knew the iPad Air 2’s marquee features — a thinner, lighter body, Touch ID, a gold color option and much faster A8X processor — but fewer people realized that Apple also made subtle changes to the new tablet’s screen, not only improving its visibility outdoors but also changing the way it registered touch input. All of the tweaks added up to a noticeably better user experience, but one category of accessories unexpectedly wound up broken: digital styluses. As it turns out, fine-tipped styluses use tiny electrical pulses to trick touchscreens into thinking they’re fingers, and the pulses needed to be recalibrated to work reliably with the iPad Air 2’s new screen. Adonit was the first to release an iPad Air 2-compatible digital stylus, the $75 Jot Script 2 (reviewed here), and now there’s a second, more affordable option.

Lynktec is one of several stylus makers that have sought a middle ground between expensive $80-$100 Bluetooth styluses and entry-level $20-$30 styluses that lack electronic hardware. The second-generation Rechargeable Apex Stylus ($60) is, like its predecessor, a mostly silver pen with a battery inside and a shirt clip on its edge. It loses the plasticky black top and bottom in favor of a more thoroughly metallic appearance, retaining five rubber finger grips near its tip for comfort. And while it keeps the 2mm polymer writing tip of the original Rechargeable Apex, it’s now backed by electronic circuitry that works properly with the iPad Air 2, as well as all earlier iPads and iPhones…

Key Details:

  • Updated version of prior Apex with iPad Air 2 support, new look
  • Includes micro-USB charging cable, 16-hr. rechargeable battery
  • Thicker than typical pen, but light and comfortable in the hand
  • Offers 2mm tip precision writing ability but no palm rejection


From a technical standpoint, there isn’t much in the second-generation Rechargeable Apex that hasn’t been seen before. Measuring 5.8″ long by 0.5″ thick at its base, the tube initially feels slightly cool and metallic to the touch, and its length is at least a little longer than most of the competing digital styluses I’ve seen. This makes is comparable in size to a large regular pen, and enables it to rest comfortably on the edge of a large hand. To turn Apex on, you press a hard plastic button at the top of its shirt clip; you can use the same button to turn it off, or it will power itself down after 30 minutes of inactivity. A small blue light near the tip lets you know whether the power’s on.


Apex’s back edge hides a screw-off cap. This lets you attach the included micro-USB recharging cable to bring a dead Apex back to life in one hour, with a promised 500 charges — each delivering around 16 hours of battery life. I had no issues during testing with the battery performance, though it should be noted that Apex won’t be sensed at all by the iPad’s screen if the battery isn’t charged and power isn’t turned on; the 2mm fine tip literally requires the battery-powered electronic pulses to be recognized. Some of the competing styluses I’ve tested use hard-to-find disposable AAAA batteries, which puts them at a real disadvantage when they run out of power; with Apex, all you need to do is briefly plug it into its cable.

apexr2-4 apexr2-6 apexr2-7

Using the new Rechargeable Apex is just like using any of the other digital but non-Bluetooth styluses that have been released: you get the advantage of being able to interact with the iPad using a fairly small tip, which enables you to write words and sketch fine details. The tip feels smoother on the iPad’s glass screen than soft rubber, with little drag, but not like a ballpoint metal tip on paper, a sensation no stylus has yet replicated. Below are screenshots of Fiftythree’s Paper, Psoft Mobile’s Zen Brush, and Apple’s iOS 9 Notes app running on an iPad Air 2 with Apex, all of which worked exactly as expected with zero need for configuration. Unlike Bluetooth styluses, Apex does not require any special pairing or developer support to work with individual writing and drawing apps, a major plus.

IMG_8281 IMG_8282 IMG_8279

This is offset by the disadvantage of lacking palm rejection — a Bluetooth 4-assisted and individual app-specific feature that enables some styluses to signal their location to iPads, and thereby avoid misinterpreting a moving palm resting against the screen as input. Depending on the way you write or draw, palm rejection mightn’t matter to you: if you tend to write or draw with your wrist up, no problem. But if you tend to rest your hand against paper when you write on it, you’ll either need to adjust to Apex or consider a stylus (and specially-updated apps) with palm rejection, instead. Other Bluetooth-enabled features, integrated buttons and sensors for features such as erasing, undoing, and pressure sensitivity, are also absent from Apex. These are the compromises Lynktec makes for its lower price point.


Every time I’ve reviewed a stylus, rumors of an Apple-developed official alternative have been swirling, yet after five years of those rumors, nothing has come of them. Since Apple has only hinted at a better solution, the question of whether or not to buy a third-party stylus has come down to a combination of reasonable pricing, convenience, performance, and support for popular writing and drawing apps. Lynktec’s second-generation Rechargeable Apex offers a compelling value proposition for its $60 price: it works with all of Apple’s tablets and iPad apps, includes all the rechargeable battery life you’ll need for years of use, and is comfortable, particularly for large hands. Consider it a particularly viable option if you plan to do a lot of writing or sketching on an iPad Air 2.

All iPads


Filed under: iOS Devices, Reviews Tagged: Apex, digital stylus, iPad, iPad Air 2, iPad stylus, Lynktec, rechargeable, second generation, stylus

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Jeremy Horwitz

August 20th



Force Touch on iPhone 6S revealed: expect shortcuts, faster actions across iOS


While Force Touch on the Apple Watch allowed Apple to add an additional layer of buttons to a small display, the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus screens don’t lack for either real estate or buttons. So why would Force Touch be desirable on larger displays? Following up on our May report that Force Touch is coming to Apple’s next iPhones, sources who have used the iPhone 6S have provided new details on how Force Touch works and feels under iOS.

According to sources, the iOS version of Force Touch is known internally as “Orb.” Instead of opening up a large window of extra controls that did not fit on the screen, as is done on the Apple Watch, Force Touch on the iPhone is designed to skip existing lists of options or button presses. “There is consistent usage of Force Touch across the operating system to ‘shortcut’ actions,” rather than present new options like with the Apple Watch, according to a source. The source provided a few examples:

  • New to the Force Touch experience, a user can look up a point of interest in the Maps application, and then Force Touch on the destination to immediately begin turn-by-turn directions. Currently, if a user wants to start navigating to a destination, she must search for the point of interest, click the navigation logo on the map view, then click another button to actually start navigating. In this case, the Force Touch gesture will skip two steps.
  • In the Music application, a user can Force Touch on a listed track to be presented with some of the most commonly-used actions. For instance, if a user deep presses on the listing for a song, a menu will appear to quickly add the song to a playlist or save it for offline listening. This Force Touch gesture would act as a substitute for clicking the actions button on the right side of each track listing in the Music app.
  • Another feature in testing, according to one source, are shortcuts that appear after Force Touching an app icon on the Home screen. For example, if a user deep presses on the Phone app icon, he could choose to shortcut directly to the Voicemail tab. This could also apply to deep pressing the News app icon and being taken directly to either the Favorites or For You tabs.
  • Some of the Force Touch gestures will come from Apple’s latest MacBooks. For instance, a user can Force Touch a link in Safari to see a preview of that webpage. The gesture also works for deep pressing on an address or contact name to see a preview of a map view or contact card, respectively. Similarly, a user can Force Touch a word to look up its definition.

Because of its small display, the Apple Watch’s Force Touch feature is consistently represented by a grid of options that cover the entirety of the current view on the screen. On the new iPhones, Force Touch will be represented in three ways: no additional user interface as with the subtle integration on the new MacBooks, a user interface that appears surrounding the finger where the Force Touch gesture is conducted, or a shortcut list toward the bottom of the display akin to a typical options list across iOS.

Sources explained that the physical feedback given to the user with each Force Touch press has been tuned to be “nice” and “consistent” across the system. Besides a Force Touch display, sources say that 4K video recording for the iPhone 6S was in the cards earlier this year, but it is unconfirmed whether that feature will be ready to go for September. Of course, the new devices will also sport a faster A9 chip in addition to 2GB of RAM, faster LTE speeds for web browsing, and more efficient chips for better battery life.

Apple has also been planning to open up Force Touch beyond its core apps and operating system so that developers could ship iOS 9 App Store apps that leverage the new interaction paradigm. Beyond this fall’s new iPhones, sources say that the upcoming larger, 12.9-inch iPads, codenamed J98 and J99, will feature a Force Touch display that interacts with the long-in-the-works iPad stylus. An uncorroborated tip indicates that the larger-sized device could debut alongside an iOS 9.1 update.

Apple is expected to show off the new iPhones alongside the new iOS-based Apple TV, and potentially new iPads, on September 9th.

Filed under: iOS, iOS Devices Tagged: API, Apple, Apple watch, Display, event, force touch, iOS 9, iOS 9.1, iPad Pro, iphone 6s, iphone 6s plus, J98, J99, N66, N71, Orb, September, stylus

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Mark Gurman

August 10th


February 2016
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