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Apple fires back at Microsoft's new Surface Pen with a faster Pencil

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One of Microsoft's big claims with its new Surface Pen was that it's the fastest digital pen in the world, making it "twice as responsive as the Apple Pencil.” Today at Apple's WWDC keynote, the iPad maker has fired back with a faster Apple Pencil. Microsoft's Surface Pen has 21ms of latency, and Apple's Pencil now has 20ms with the new iPad Pro, making Apple's the fastest digital pen in the world.

Just like Microsoft, it seems Apple is enabling this faster Apple Pencil thanks to its display technology. The new iPad Pro includes a new display with a 120Hz refresh rate that improves the speed of the Apple Pencil. Either way, it's unlikely anyone is going to notice a 1ms difference between the Surface Pen and Apple Pencil.

While Apple has improved the speed of the Apple Pencil, it's not immediately clear whether the pressure-sensitivity levels have improved. Microsoft has increased the pressure-sensitivity levels on the new Surface Pen to 4096, alongside a 12-gram activation force.

Apple is also improving iOS 11 for Pencil support. Notes hand-written text is now searchable, alongside inline drawings within typed notes. You can even tap on the lock screen with the Pencil to jump straight into the Notes app. iOS 11 will be available later this fall as a free upgrade for existing devices.