+353 1 9055720 manoj@reeinvent.me

Did Apple get it wrong?

Now I am a big fan of apple products, especially the iPhone and tablet.

I also have used and followed the evolution of pen technologies since in 1990’s.  Be it the crosspad, the Anoto. livescribe etc.

I also think there are a range of wonderful pen apps like audionote which are so useful in meetings, workshops etc and reduce the effort of taking and sharing notes and are a great aid to productivity and creativity.

Pens and Pencils are so much more natural than keyboards in the right place so it is natural that you would want your device to be pen enabled.

Microsoft have failed miserably with the OneNote app in what in theory should be a wonderful everyday app to make life simpler.

Apple held back from bringing the pen to the tablet given its early failure with the Newton. In fact many other vendors launched excellent pens and apps be it to write, draw or graphics editing.

However when Apple made the Pencil for the ipad pro I feel the missed an important aspect of a pen/pencil.

Now today normal pens are convenient, easy to use, cheap.  Why cant a digital pen/pencil be as convenient ?

When Apple made the pencil they got many things right.

  • easy to use (connecting to device)
  • elegant, tactile, smooth (both on the device and to feel

but I feel the got the whole connectivity issue wrong big time.

The whole way you recharge the pen, the fiddly little pieces which are easy to lose.  the relatively short battery life (compared to other pens) .

It’s easy to lose the pen as it does not attach to the tablet, easy to lose the charging parts and a fiddle to charge.

I have put a set of pictures to allow you to compare how other Pen vendors or Pencentric devices

Samsung from the Note phone and tablet have made it a much simpler experience (and cheaper replacement) and integrated storage with the device so you buy it as an integrated offering (something Apple excelled at before).

I will leave you to make up your mind.

Apple should have looked harder at how other vendors look at the whole customer experience.

Think of how you feel if you lose an expensive pen.  When the Apple pen creates that whole anxiety and so mar what should be a beautiful experience to use.

Apple, maybe a trip to the drawing board is in order.

Don’t make your products easy to break, lose, charge, while aesthetics are very important they should not compromise the experience.

Afterall a pen/pencil is also a utility device, not purely aesthetic.

Also the starting point for every designer is to research what is already there and what to keep and what to lose or add in any iteration.



Equil does a lovely bit to give you a complete package, charger, pen etc.  Simple and easy.

Vaio again have a beautiful solution, pen is easy to use, battery life is wonderful and easy to replace


Similarly the Jot Script is almost perfect.

Maybe not as smooth as the Apple Pencil, and it does need to be connected with the tablet via Bluetooth vs being inserted in the lighting connector like the Apple Pencil but battery life, and functionality and accuracy as the convenience of the one piece design and easy of replacing batteries is great.

A thicker barrel also means you can use it for longer compared to the pencil  (think of it like a Mont Blanc pen.