The first generation of the Apple Pencil was in many ways ground breaking and was something that many artists who use iPads were looking for and excited about as a regular stylus wasn’t very accurate and many of the “graphic tablet” peripheral options are expensive and lets be honest limited (you pay good money for one but it can’t be used on the go, needs a computer to operate and has no other purpose other than pen input as compared to an iPad that can do a whole mess of other things). The truth is though, it really wasn’t ground breaking, the idea of it was ground breaking, the implementation on the other hand was a complete mess and disappointment. The most obvious issue with the first generation Apple Pencil is the way that it charged. You have to remove a piece off of the top of the pencil (a piece just begging to get lost while the pencil is charging) and then plug it in the bottom of your iPad in to the charging port (just begging for the charging port on the iPad or pencil to break and cause a lot of permanent damage to both deceives). The less obvious issues were the fact that the pencil was super long and felt bulky and unnatural to draw with (normal drawing pencils are not that huge) and the fact that other than charging, the pencil didn’t attach to the iPad in any way making it harder to transport unless you purchased a specialty case and made it much easier to lose or leave behind. Lastly, the pencil was fully round and felt like it would constantly roll without end and go flying off of your desk. Again, the idea was super cool, but the implementation was not.
Apple must have heard a lot of these complaints as it came back with the second generation Apple Pencil that seems to fix and address all of these problems and then some. Lets dive in and take a look. The new pencil is quite a bit smaller in length than the fist generation, has no removable cap and it also has one flat shaved edge. This change solves quite a bit, first off the flat edge keeps the pencil from rolling forever and ever, second it doesn’t have a cap that you can lose super easily and third, and most import, the flat edge is the new charging port. The new pencil has a wireless charging capability that allows it to stick magnetically to the side of the iPad and charge. This solves all of the major problems, the ports are no longer at risk of damage, and you have somewhere to store your pencil (stuck to the side of your iPad). Like mentioned above, Apple really did address all of the problems of the first pencil including feeling more natural as the new shape, size and weight of the pencil makes it feel more like drawing with a real pencil.
Now that we have the improvements and differences out of the way, lets talk about what it is like to use and work with in programs. Ill be honest, I have not used the pencil for many programs, in fact just two (not saying that I wont find more programs in the future or that there are not more needs for it, just saying that I have only had it for a short time to play with and only tested it in two programs) Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. With Affinity Photo I found it much easier to use the pencil to work on lighting in photos on objects, for color correction, detailed touch ups and for general brush work. In comparison, doing all of the same work on my Mac Mini with a mouse felt less accurate and less in control as compared to the pencil. As much as I enjoyed using the pencil in Affinity Photo it was Affinity Designer where I really found myself feeling like I couldn’t live without the pencil (at least as compared to using my fingers on the touch screen for this app). Being able to use the pencil to just draw freely like I would on paper but then have it automatically be a digital file, a vector one at that was amazing. I’m not a huge by hand artist, but I love the idea of being able to draw something by hand and the instantly being able to manipulate it digitally. I used the pencil and Affinity Designer to come up with a new race livery for one of Circuit94’s race cars (full disclosure I am a driver for Circuit94 Racing) and felt that it was a much easier and smoother process than trying to follow the lines of a car with a mouse.
Long story short, the idea of the original Apple Pencil was great, but Apple didn’t do that great of a job executing it. Then Apple heard the issues and complaints, fixed them and then some, and now the Apple Pencil second generation is an awesome product and in my opinion worth every penny of the asking price (especially as you just forked over a grand or more to get one of the new iPad pros). If you are the type that takes a ton of notes or are any type of an artist that draws, sketches, edits photos and so on this is definitely a tool that you should consider.