FiftyThree’s Pencil stylus will offer greater control with ‘Surface Pressure’ update for iOS 8

FiftyThree’s Pencil stylus will offer greater control with ‘Surface Pressure’ update ...

FiftyThree’s Pencil, a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) stylus for the iPad, is about to get even closer to the art and writing tool it’s named after.

When iOS 8 is released this fall, the New York-based startup will roll out a new software feature called Surface Pressure. In short, the width and ‘character’ of your strikes will vary depending on how you’re holding the stylus. So if you press down with just the tip, you’ll see a thin, delicate line on the screen; conversely, holding Pencil flat, or at an acute angle – so more of the tip is touching the display – will produce a thicker, sweeping mark.

Surface Pressure Squiggle

The same holds true when you flip FiftyThree’s Pencil over and erase your work. Removing smudges and lines is an art form in itself – plenty of professionals use it to create contrast and bold lines – and Surface Pressure will accomodate that. As you press more of the eraser’s surface on the screen, the Paper app should reflect those strokes and wipe away your lines accordingly.

If you’ve ever sketched with a pencil before, you’ll understand what FiftyThree is aiming for here. Shading and intricate line work are wildly different – as an artist, you need to change the way you hold the pencil, as well as your pressure and even the sharpening of the tip. FiftyThree is trying to replicate that experience and in the process, make Pencil a more viable tool for creatives.


Surface Pressure will be a free software upgrade for Pencil. An exact release date hasn’t been given though – we’ll need to know when iOS 8 lands first. In the meantime, Pencil can be purchased in the US and Canada for $59.95 (Graphite) or $74.95 (Walnut) from Amazon and FiftyThree’s online store.

FiftyThree | Pencil

Read next: Terrain's new Android homescreen widget gives you quick access to your favorite apps and services