FiftyThree Debuts SDK to Coax Paper Adoption

Eric Zeman
Jul. 23 2014, 04:25PM EDT

FiftyThree is looking to expand beyond its own app. The company makes a stylus for the iPad called Pencil and an application called Paper. It's an app-and-accessory duo for creative types who want the traditional feel of a handheld instrument combined with the digital power of today's tablets. Well, FiftyThree thinks that just one app using the Pencil isn't enough. Today, it debuted an SDK so third-party companies can add the power of the Pencil to their own apps.

Pencil and Paper have been around awhile, but FiftyThree says it always wanted to work outside of its own boundaries. The combo has sold well since its debut—well enough that FiftyThree decided there's no better time to open up. FiftyThree recently made Pencil and Paper available to a wider range of international markets. The SDK marks yet another new direction for the company, as it knows Pencil's appeal will remain limited as long as its functionality is constrained to a single app.

The FiftyThree SDK will let developers add all the features of Pencil and Paper to their own apps. The stylus itself pairs easily via Bluetooth. It is smart enough to reject palm input and can recognize surface pressure, which allows users to create thicker or thinner lines, depending on how hard they press the stylus on the screen.

According to FiftyThree, it is ready to provide developers with documentation, co-promotion of apps and deep support. For example, sample apps, a quick-start guide, FAQ and clearly documented code give developers all they need to get up and running.

"Pencil opens up interaction possibilities beyond multitouch," FiftyThree says on its website. "Through the FiftyThree SDK, touches are classified as a pen, eraser, finger, or palm. Navigate with a finger, edit with the tip, delete with the eraser—more inputs mean more interaction possibilities."

In order to highlight the possibilities of the SDK, FiftyThree announced three initial partners that have put the developer tools to use in their own apps. Procreate, for example, is even easier to use by combining its three key features—Paint, Smudge, and Erase—into one intuitive tool. Noteshelf, another app, says that "Pencil integration brings leading palm rejection technology for easy handwriting, as well as flip-to-erase" functionality to its app. Squiggle, a popular music app, says that "Pencil adds a new dimension of playful interactivity," allowing users to draw musical strings, pluck them with their fingers and cut them with the eraser.

Developers interested in downloading the SDK can do so from FiftyThree's developer site.

Eric Zeman I am a journalist who covers the mobile telecommunications industry. I freelance for ProgrammableWeb and other online properties.

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