The 7 Best Apps for Apple Pencils

Logitech Crayon vs Apple Pencil

The 7 Best Apps for Apple Pencils

Key Points

  • Procreate is the best app for digital artists.
  • Affinity Designer is a flexible and affordable choice for vector art.
  • Apple Notes works for both art and notes and stores them in iCloud.
  • ForScore is great for musicians with support for annotations of sheet music.
  • Annotation is a breeze with LiquidText.

What are the best apps for Apple Pencils? The Apple Pencil is one of the more curious additions to Apple’s ecosystem. It enables compatible iPads to get realistic touch support for graphic design and other sorts of work.

Since its introduction, there has been quite a surge of compatible apps. While most of these are geared towards art creators, there is plenty out there for everyone to make use of the Apple Pencil.

As you can imagine, there are a huge variety of apps with Apple Pencil support. However, not all apps are created equal. This is especially true when you start looking at things like pressure sensitivity, tilt support, and palm rejection.

Best for Drawing
Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)
  • Imperceptible lag
  • Tilt and pressure sensitivity
  • Magnetically attaches to the iPad
  • Charges wirelessly
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08/29/2023 05:25 pm GMT

So, if you are a new adopter of the Pencil, here are seven apps that might tickle your fancy, depending on your needs.

Best for Digital Art: Procreate

Procreate has made the rounds for years on social media thanks to its easy-to-learn interface. It’s the undisputed king when it comes to a robust app with Pencil support.

What makes Procreate one of the best apps for Apple Pencils comes down to how it implements the device itself. It has a doubled sampling rate when measuring strokes on the screen, meaning you get fluid and precise lines. The palm rejection is second to none and doesn’t require additional accessories.

Procreate is one of the most affordable digital art apps.The interface can get sluggish if you have a bunch of art saved in your gallery.
It has great precision and palm rejection support.The simulated brushes don’t behave like the real media.

Best for Note-Taking: Nebo

best apps for apple pencils
The Apple Pencil is a great choice for productivity apps and taking notes.

©Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock.com

Nebo is an interesting take on the note-taking app. What makes it one of the best apps for Apple Pencils is the sheer flexibility of its platform. You can download the app for free if you wish, with unlimited pages easily unlocked through a one-time purchase.

Nebo allows you to export notes to readily usable formats like PDF or pages viewable on the web. You can also use it to solve mathematical equations, which is helpful for students. All told, it is a great note-taking app with some of the best handwriting recognition on the market today.

Nebo has superb handwriting recognition.You cannot import documents or images.
It exports into usable formats for most computers.A recent update has made Nebo rather sluggish and buggy.

Best for Vector Art: Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer is one of the best apps for Apple Pencils when looking at vector art. Any professional using vector art for design work knows that having something with desktop parity is a massive benefit. Affinity Designer allows users to easily migrate between their iPad and MacBook.

On top of system compatibility, you get a fully featured vector art app complete with a useful array of tools. Affinity Designer also imports files from the likes of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, so you can make use of templates and brushes with ease.

The iPad version is fully compatible with the desktop version.The interface has a bit of a learning curve.
Affinity Designer comes with many different templates and brushes for design work.Affinity Designer is a bit pricy at $29.99 when compared to cheaper vector options.

Best for Annotation: LiquidText

Annotation is crucial for many professional fields, and LiquidText makes it a cinch to do. This is one of the best apps for Apple Pencils just based around the sheer breadth of options for annotating documents.

You can import Word, PowerPoint, and PDF documents for review. Notes and annotations are easily connected to documents, which can then be further exported to PDF. LiquidText is a great utility for both students and professionals.

LiquidText allows for easy construction of notes and annotations for documents.The app has a constant cycle of updates, which can bog down your workflow.
You can search within documents with simple gestures.LiquidText doesn’t have iCloud syncing.

Best Free Note-Taking App: Apple Notes

Apple Notes is one of the best apps for an Apple Pencil because it serves as a great introduction to using one. What can be said about it? It comes as a preloaded app for new iPad models, so many might overlook it.

You can take handwritten notes or convert your handwriting to text if desired. Users can even use it for simple doodles, but don’t expect the likes of layer support. Apple Notes isn’t the absolute best note-taking app, but it is hard to argue against the price.

It comes prepackaged on newer iPad models.The feature list is rather bare for note-taking.
Apple Notes syncs with your iCloud account so you can view notes on other Apple devices.Apple’s handwriting recognition technology isn’t the absolute best for recognizing lettering.

Best for 3D Designing: uMake

Yes, you didn’t read this one incorrectly, you can use your iPad for 3D design work. uMake makes the process a breeze. This makes it one of the best apps for Apple Pencils.

uMake is great for architectural work, CAD, and just general 3D modeling. It does have a pricier monthly fee that most might want to avoid. That said, you get full pressure sensitivity from the Apple Pencil and a plethora of potential use cases.

uMake is great for 3D modeling for professional and hobby usage.There is no support for iCloud sync.
uMake allows for sketching that then is extruded to 3D dimensions.uMake doesn’t have support for 3D model slicing for 3D printing usage.

Best for Musicians: forScore

best apps for apple pencils
ForScore is a great app for learning or playing music while using the Apple Pencil.

©Vach cameraman/Shutterstock.com

ForScore rounds out the selection of best apps for Apple Pencils. Simply put, this is an absolutely crucial tool for any musician. You get access to scores, as well as an assortment of tools for annotating sheet music for your own personal use.

You probably won’t be using forScore to create your own compositions, since solutions like Sibelius and Doric are more suited for it. However, if you need to make some notes in the margins about a key change or alternate voicings, this is the tool for you.

ForScore has multiple features to allow for quick adjustments of your sheet music.It isn’t suited for creating wholly new scores for your own compositions.
ForScore has a blazingly fast interface that is very responsive.Syncing between multiple devices can be somewhat spotty.

What to Know Before Using an Apple Pencil

So, should you get an Apple Pencil for yourself? It really does depend on what you’re after in terms of the functionality of your iPad. Apple’s tablet has been a solid choice for design work since the introduction of the Pencil, but it isn’t for everyone.

That said, using the Apple Pencil is an absolute breeze to get down. Apple has taken care to make sure that using the Apple Pencil is an intuitive experience. While the first generation Pencil had issues with charging, the latest charges wirelessly while magnetically attached to your iPad.

Using it is just like using any stylus for your tablet but with a far greater level of precision. You get access to features you’ll only see on the best drawing tablets, like palm rejection, tilt sensing, and multiple levels of pressure sensitivity.

Using Apps with the Apple Pencil: What It’s Like

Using an Apple Pencil with your app of choice is a relatively smooth experience. Generally, the app will automatically recognize that the Pencil is in use. For art apps, this means it can disable making any sort of strokes or lines when you use your fingers to adjust the canvas.

It really is just like using the best stylus on the planet, and it makes for a relatively smooth experience. You’ll get levels of precision you don’t get with other stylus options. Some interfaces are built around the gestures you can perform with the Apple Pencil, so be sure to consult the manual.

The 7 Best Apps for Apple Pencils FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can I use Procreate without an Apple Pencil?

You can, but you’ll get the best of it when using an Apple Pencil.

Are iPads good for digital art?

The newer iPad Pros and iPad Airs are excellent choices for digital art creation.

Can Affinity Designer import Photoshop files?

Yes, it certainly can. You can also import Adobe Publisher and Illustrator files.

Does AutoCAD support pressure sensitivty?

Yes, it has support for pressure sensitivity when using the Apple Pencil.

Does the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation need to be plugged in for charging?

No, you can charge it wirelessly by just connecting to the magnetic spot on your iPad Pro or iPad Air.

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