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FiftyThree’s New Pencil Stylus and Paper App Are a Perfect Match




Apple has sold iPad and iPhone styluses in its stores for years, but it wasn’t until recently that I noticed one of the company’s promo videos showing someone using a stylus on an iPad. For me, that was a watershed moment, since I’ve been drawing on iPads with a stylus since almost the day it launched in 2010.

These styluses are typically not powered, and work via capacitive touch, just like your finger on an iPad screen. Companies such as Targus, Wacom and Hard Candy have produced some very good models, but all of them share one trait that, for artists like me, takes some getting used to: You have to keep your hand off the screen when drawing with them. If I rest my palm on the screen when drawing with a Wacom Bamboo Stylus Solo, for example, the iPad thinks I’m performing a multi-finger gesture.

FiftyThree, makers of the award-winning Paper app, have a solution. The company has created Pencil, a Bluetooth stylus that looks and feels a lot like a carpenter’s pencil, right down to the natural mahogany body. By pairing Pencil with the iPad via Bluetooth, it’s able to perform “palm-rejection.” Simply put, you can rest your hand on the screen while drawing.

For now, Pencil, which is set to cost $50 when it hits stores Tuesday, only works with an updated version of Paper, a versatile app that lets you take notes, organize thoughts and sketch out ideas.

FiftyThree CEO Georg Petschnigg told Mashable that the company aims to bring Pencil’s capabilities to other third-party drawing and design apps. You can use Pencil with other apps, but only as a standard capacitive stylus, which means palm rejection does not work.

In a demonstration, we paired Pencil, which also comes in slate gray (actually aluminum), by pressing its tip on a special spot on the app. This pairs the stylus exclusively with that particular iPad, which means you could have a room full of iPads and Pencils without any crosstalk issues.

Once paired, drawing in Paper was a breeze. Faster strokes produced thicker lines and slower strokes created finer ones. The soft, capacitive rubber tip glided smoothly over the iPad’s glass screen (I’ve used styluses with rubber ends that are a draggy mess). The back end of the stylus is also covered in the same capacitive rubber, so when you turn Pencil around and place that end on the screen, it performs as an eraser. And don’t worry about wearing out the tip or base; Pencil ships with a pair of spare parts that are easy to install.


Although Paper won’t recognize your palm when you’re using Pencil, gestures still work well. Two fingers will let you zoom into a drawing, a backward sweep of your finger in a semi-circle will work as undo and you can even use your finger to mix colors or smudge. Pencil on Paper feels like authentic old-school drawing. Any artist will know exactly what I mean.

Since it’s a Bluetooth device, Pencil is battery-powered. To recharge it, you have the pull the black rubber tip out of its wood casing to reveal a USB plug. Petschnigg said that a single charge can last months.

FiftyThree starts taking orders for Pencil this month, and should have them ready for delivery in December. If you can’t decide between wood and metal, I’ll offer this advice: I preferred the feel of the mahogany over the aluminum. There are also two more benefits to choosing Pencil’s wood model: First, every mahogany pencil is unique since it’s milled from a real piece of wood; second, the wood model contains a magnet, so it can hang onto a magnetized iPad Smart Cover or Smart Case.


Most of the time, Pencil worked as advertised, but it was also clear that the stylus is still a work in progress. Twice, a bug kept me from pairing Pencil with Paper until I recharged it. Since FiftyThree doesn’t plan to ship Pencil until December, it should have those kinks worked out by then.

Pencil is not the first palm-rejecting stylus; there’s also the highly regarded Jot Touch 4 from Adonit. It’s also not the first with an unusual design; the Sensu looks like a paint brush. Still, Pencil is one of the first to combine smart design and palm rejection with a very close marriage to a popular app. This combination may help it succeed where other high-end styluses have not.


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Advancing technology has collided with longstanding customer issues to create a series of deep, lasting, systemic challenges for insurance. How will these trends impact insurers’ businesses and the industry overall?

The rise of fintech, changing consumer behavior, and advanced technologies are disrupting the insurance industry. Additionally, Insurtechs and technology startups continue to redefine customer experience through innovations such as risk-free underwriting, on-the-spot purchasing, activation, and claims processing.

The report from Deloitte Global examines forces that are disrupting the insurance industry and presents four possible scenarios for the future. We explore:

  • Changing the channel: Partnerships with product makers and distributors, and embedding insurance into other products and services may enable customers to select products that best fit their lifestyle.
  • Underwriting by machine: Technology advancements including AI innovations and algorithms will likely individualize risk selection and pricing, and customers can select products based on a wider range of price points.
  • Rise of the flexible product: Time-flexible, event-driven, modular and adjustable coverage may evolve to accommodate life stage, lifestyle, and wellness changes among consumers.
  • E-Z life insurance: Given the growth and shopping patterns in emerging markets, insurers who introduce flexible term products, and master digital distribution without compromising underwriting are likely to win in the marketplace.

Read the report to understand what the future holds for the insurance industry.

Key Contact

Neal Baumann

Neal Baumann

Global Insurance Leader

Neal leads Deloitte’s Global Insurance practice and is the US insurance consulting leader. He has 20 years of experience advising financial services and insurance company clients on corporate and comp… More

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A team from EY triumphed in a 48-hour European Investment Bank (EIB) hackathon designed to find ways to use blockchain technologies to redesign the transaction processing of commercial paper.

The EIB brought together 56 coders from 15 countries in 12 teams for the hackathon, run alongside the bank’s annual forum dedicated to treasury issues.

While the conference was running, the coders were locked in an adjacent room, trying to prove that blockchain tech can improve the transaction process of commercial paper – a short-term financing instrument that is used worldwide in treasury operations and still relies on an ‘archaic’ and complex process.

In the pitching session, the EY team won the contest with an effort that taps a combination of blockchain, robotics and business AI tools to optimise the issuance process and reduce the number of exchanges between the EIB and its counterparties while maintaining each one’s role within the ecosystem.

The EY team won a EUR5000 cash prize and a contract with the EIB to further develop its solution into a proof of concept.

Alexander Stubb, vice president, EIB, say: “There will be major gains from the use of new technologies such as blockchain, generated from the simplification and streamlining of existing financial processes. The new perspectives opened up by digitalisation and Distributed Ledger Technology must be assessed and we must all be ready to make use of them and embark on this new venture.

“As the EU’s financial arm, we decided to be on the active side, learn by experience and make things happen, to be a facilitator and join with our banking partners to pave the way for tomorrow’s financial industry.”

Separately, Barclays is planning a hackathon that will see coders use blockchain technology for post-trade processing of derivatives contracts. The event will take place over two days in September in London and New York, according to Coindesk.

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More information is leaking out about just how Google is planning to re-enter the Chinese market with a mobile search engine application that complies to the country’s censorship laws.

The Intercept first broke this story when a whistleblower provided them documentation detailing the secret censored search project (codenamed Dragonfly). According to them, an overlooked Google acquisition from 2008 — — has been quietly laying down the foundation for the endeavor.

In order to run a business in China, tech companies are required to obtain a Internet Content Provider license from the Chinese government. As it’s difficult for foreign businesses to obtain this license, Google has long partnered with Chinese IT company Back in the early years of, Google actually operated directly off of’s license, even claiming the Chinese company was temporarily running its search engine. Facing intense scrutiny from the Chinese government and the media over this license arrangement, in 2007 Google formed a legitimate joint venture company with — the Beijing Guxiang Information and Technology Co.

Because of the necessity of that license, Google has maintained that joint venture and has been operating in China under the name Beijing Guxiang Information and Technology Co. ever since. Even after the shut down of, Google’s Chinese advertising enterprise has been operating under the joint venture company as well as, low and behold, A whois search of the domain name, which provides a record of the current domain registrant information, pulls up Beijing Guxiang Information and Technology Co. as the registrant organization.

A significant number of Google employees are reportedly none too happy about Google’s project complying with Chinese censorship laws. This most recent news, that the company has long been collecting data for a moment just like this, surely won’t make morale among these workers any better.

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