Does the Pencil by FiftyThree work with the new drawing features in Apple’s Notes app in iOS 9?

Apple Notes app is not listed on their list of compatible apps.

The vendor offers a software development kit (SDK) for apps to integrate Pencil functionality. That suggests apps not using that SDK will not work with Pencil.

1 Answer 1


Yes - it works very well on all iOS devices up to and including the iPad Pro. The Pro does some special refresh rate enhancements with Apple's Pencil that you won't get full advantage of, but this stylus is very nice and I think some will prefer it's ergonomics over the faster response of the pencil.

From https://www.apple.com/apple-pencil/ this is explained as follows:

When iPad Pro senses Apple Pencil, the subsystem scans its signal at an astounding 240 times per second, giving it twice the data points it normally collects with your finger.

So, your finger, the Paper by 53 pencil hardware and other stylus will be scanned at 120 times per second.

The other important feature that the Paper stylus and Apple Pencil share is that they communicate angle data to the iPad via Bluetooth. Apple's notes read that information in the notes app, but Apple's notes app do not read angle data from the Pencil hardware, so it's more like your finger with no additional bluetooth data for the Paper SDK. I've tested this on several iPad pro in the stores.

  • 1
    Did you mean to say that FiftyThree Pencil does work specifically with the sketching features in Apple Notes app? Nov 30, 2015 at 7:36
  • Yes - specifically and functionally, you can use any stylus with Apple Notes app to sketch. Just as you can use your finder to sketch there. The pencil is different solely in that the digitizer engages with less latency. I'll edit my post with that reference. You would need a third party app to get tilt/angle data from the Paper hardware.
    – bmike
    Nov 30, 2015 at 15:53

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