Apple uncripples the Apple Pencil in iOS 9.3 beta 5

Apple wisely restores iOS navigation abilities to the Apple Pencil in iOS 9.3 beta 5. But some things like Control Center, Notification Center and moving back and forward in Safari still don't work.

apple pencil

Apple has gotten lots of criticism for removing iOS navigation functionality from the Apple Pencil in one of its last betas for iOS 9.3. Thankfully, the company has listened to its user base and wisely restored the Apple Pencil's ability to navigate iOS in beta 5.

Neil Hughes reports for Apple Insider:

As promised, beta testers can once again use the Apple Pencil to navigate on iPad Pro with the latest build of iOS 9.3, with functionality restored before the software is released to the public.

The first four betas of iOS 9.3 severely limited the capabilities of the Apple Pencil, removing the ability to scroll or open links or apps. Users who remained on earlier builds of iOS on the iPad Pro continued to be able to accomplish those functions with Apple's official smart stylus.

While the Apple Pencil can once again be used to scroll and open items, there are still some navigation functions that cannot be accomplished with the Apple Pencil. These are mostly relegated to edge-of-screen gestures, like invoking Control Center, Slide Over, and Notification Center.

More at Apple Insider

The Apple Pencil still needs navigation improvements in iOS 9.3

As you can tell from the last paragraph of the article I quoted above, the Apple Pencil still can't do some things that a regular stylus can do. Specifically it needs to be able to work with Control Center, Notification Center, Slide Over, etc. Apparently it still cannot do those things as of iOS 9.3 beta 5.

This is very unfortunate, and it needs to be fixed ASAP. I was very disappointed to find out that the Apple Pencil still doesn't have all the functionality of a regular stylus. When I heard that Apple was going to improve the Apple Pencil's navigation functionality, I had hoped that they would add those things into the next beta.

Unfortunately, it looks like we're going to have to wait a while longer, and it's unclear if such functionality will be ready when iOS 9.3 is finally released. I'm not sure what the hold up is at Apple. Given the hue and cry that happened when navigation functionality was removed in a recent beta, you'd think the company would understand that its users want the Apple Pencil to do everything that a regular stylus can do in iOS.

For example, the Apple Pencil still can't move backward or forward while viewing web pages in Safari. This is really annoying, and it's such a basic feature that you'd think Apple would have already fixed it. There's no valid reason that I can think of that would explain the Apple Pencil's inability to do this.

Right now I'm still using a very old stylus I bought back when I had an iPad 3. It's a clunky old thing but it lets me do more in iOS than the Apple Pencil. And that's a rather sad situation when you consider what an otherwise amazing device the Apple Pencil is compared to my old stylus.

Let's hope that Apple has already planned how to complete the Apple Pencil's navigation features in iOS 9.3, and that they add them all in before iOS 9.3 is released to the public. If they don't do that then I think there will be some disappointed and angry Apple Pencil users.

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Related video: iOS 9.3's best new features

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