Are you a Briton who's been itching to try out Pencil, FiftyThree's Bluetooth-connected iPad stylus? Until now, the only way to get hold of the device would be to order it from the US and bracing yourself for the inevitable barrage of paperwork and annoyance from customs. Thankfully, the company has decided to end our suffering, and is commencing sales of the device to the UK, Germany and France from today.
Pencil is the companion device to the company's free iPad sketching app Paper, which was born from the ashes of Microsoft's Courier project. Rather than undergo any needless pairing operation, you simply have to hold the tip of the device onto the logo in the artist's palette, and the technology will handle the rest, normally within about three seconds. The company promises that Paper will charge from empty in around 90 mins, and will, apparently, last for up to a month with "normal use," whatever that is.
I've never used it for anything more than doodling, since you're only able to use a single, pen-style brush and the eraser before being required to pay for more functionality. If you introduce Pencil to the equation, then any and all features that are available in the app come alive. When we tried this the first time, a pop-up told us that the extra brushes, like blend, watercolor and marker would stop working as soon as we disconnected the device, although after turning off Bluetooth and restarting the iPad, those extra brushes are still working -- something we'll take advantage of until the company inevitably fixes it. Naturally, the rubberized tip will still work as a stylus even when powered off, but you won't be able to take advantage of any of the other features until you activate it.
Like its transatlantic cousin, Pencil will also be getting the same pressure sensitivity update that US users will receive whenever Apple deigns to release iOS 8 -- which is expected at some point in the autumn. If you'd like to snap up the hardware today, you can do so from Amazon, with the Graphite (unibody aluminum) version being priced at £50 and the Walnut (hewn from sustainable wood) at £65. Admittedly, that's a little pricer than if you, somehow, were able to snag them in the US, since the former is costs $60 (£35) and the latter is $75 (£44), but just imagine that part of the extra fee is not having to deal with tedious missives from the HMRC.