So Far, with… iPad Pro + Pencil

Picked up 9.7" iPad Pro + Pencil a couple of weeks ago after owning almost every model and wanted to share some initial thoughts and observations.

iPad Pro 9.7", 32GB, Wifi+cellular

First, the iPad. If you like iPads, this is another step toward the ultimate expression. Moving from iPad Air, I’m relishing being able to use split screen properly and the little boosts in speed all round. The screen is phenomenal… apparently. All I know is, I’m typing this in glaring sunlight and it is perfect and the rest of the time it’s perfect to the point of being inconspicuous.


Before we start, bear in mind I can barely draw a circle, let alone use my iPad for illustration. But I love my Moleskines for taking informal sketchy notes – kind of like how we use Slack at Augur for informal chat vs. Asana for any important communication long term.

  • Generally, the feeling of precision reminds me of a mouse and it’s more satisfying than expected to simply use the interface with. Yes, it’s nice to pick away at touch screens with your finger when scrolling, pinching to zoom etc – but ultimately, you don’t have to be a Bonobo shattering a coconut to know we have an inbuilt pleasure of using tools.
  • This is an amazing way to take notes. The problem with a Moleskine meeting is that by the end of the conversation, you’ve got some great ideas but they are indelibly distributed in all different sections of the notes. Using Pencil (and Fifty Three’s great Paper app), you can make a duplicate, erase the nonsense and quickly reorganise the original puzzle pieces to reflect the map you want in your brain. I literally feel like I’m shuffling my ideas around on paper and that’s both creatively freeing and intoxicating.
  • Templates are awesome. In fact, basically Paper makes the Pencil awesome. For example, I now have a template page which includes a title box and little icons that I standardly use when taking notes – a little arrow, a little checkbox for tasks, another box for headers. Using Paper, you can tap and hold on any of the icons then tap again and it makes a perfect duplicate, giving you a kind of toolbar. And if I need new icons, I just create one and add it.
  • No you don’t need it. Like the Apple Watch, like an iPad generally, you can buy a laptop and your utilitarian inner fascist will get along fine. But sometimes you want to really feel great about work and enthused + inspired. In the past, I resorted to my notebook and a nice scratchy old pen for that. But this provides a fascinating alternative.