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Gear & Apps

App Turns Your Trackpad Into A Pressure Sensitive Pen Tablet

By Kishore Sawh on March 25th 2015


An interesting thing happens when you purchase any new Apple product, and that is, those that are defiantly anti-Apple will reach into their grab-bag of unoriginal quips about being a ‘fanboy’ or having more dollars than sense. So not only do you have to have a thicker wallet to buy Apple, but a thicker skin, too.

It’s unlikely anything will prevent an Apple user from continuing to be one, and if you have been licking your chops at the prospect of one of the new line of MacBooks, and you’re a photographer, here’s a little cream on top of the already frothy temptation.

The new trackpads, called Force Touch trackpads, uses a technology called,” Haptic Feedback,” where it uses pressure sensors to measure pressure levels applied, and then magnets to supply feedback. Just as a trackpad allowed for a large leap in functionality over a traditional mouse, this newer version is sure to provide another bound. One company has already taken advantage of it and created something of desire for most photographers.


Inklet is a new app from Ten 1 Design, that elevates your trackpad and allows it to emulate a pen tablet. For those with Force Touch, it allows even for pressure sensitivity when using a Pogo stylus, or a finger even.

Without a doubt one of the first concerns will be the actual size, as clearly the use is restricted to the small size of the trackpad. If you are a graphic artist, I could more understand the concern as it can pay to have a larger surface area to work with, but you can rest a little easier perhaps, because the app allows for the creation of workspaces which can be moved, reshaped, and readjusted to your liking.



Approximate size of a workspace when using my Wacom

But if your primary use for a pen tablet is for retouching photos, this is far less of a concern, in my opinion. I’ve spoken tirelessly at how much I adore Wacom tablets, and couldn’t possibly urge you anymore than I already have to getting one to transform your work and workflow, and I’ve reviewed candidly one of the smallest and the largest.

The thing is, the actual size of the tablet’s surface matters little to most photo-editors I know because we reduce the active area to something that’s only a fraction of even the smallest tablet. Aaron Nace uses the small size Wacom, as do I, and even on that, use a minute active area just to reduce hand movement. That area is akin to the size of the trackpad, and may, in fact, be smaller, so for photo retouching, the size shouldn’t matter much.

Possibly more of a concern is just how well the connection between stylus and surface actually works, and the sensitivity and responsiveness of the entire system. There’s a predictability and assurance with the Wacom tablets in how they work and that they will, and that makes for a great experience. They also have hundreds, if not thousands, of levels of pressure sensitivity that are adjustable, which makes for a bespoke and natural experience. Will this currently work as well? It’s highly unlikely. As soon as I get my hands on a Force Touch trackpad, I will, however, be purchasing this app and reviewing it.


[REWIND: Why You Need A Tablet & How It’ll Transform Your Lightroom Workflow]

At $25, it’s not very expensive, and for light touch-ups, combined with the convenience of not having to carry around a tablet, it seems like a great deal. It could also possibly save you in a jam if you’ve forgotten your tablet, or a component of it like the wifi dongle or cable, or it isn’t working – especially since Inklet is said to work with all the major applications we would want it to, like Photoshop, Lightroom, and more.

I feel it necessary to interject here that this is no way will replace a Wacom tablet, and again, I can’t usher you enough to get one if you haven’t already. You can see our reviews of the $79 Intuos Pen & Touch Small, and the grand-daddy Intuos Pro Large.

Get Inklet here.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Josiah Dewey

    Sounds good. Hope it works like it they say it works.

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  2. Vince Arredondo

    It is really cool, but far from replacing a Wacom tablet I suppose.

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  3. Kevin Liu

    I have this app and honestly, the performance is sub par for being a substitute for purchasing a pen tablet. It is definitely ok for sketching, but for remotely detailed work such as selecting specific areas or brushing in masks, it just isn’t up to snuff. I really don’t think it’s the software that’s to blame in this case. Any Wacom tab i’ve ever used has proximity sensing which does wonders for how heavy any brushing goes on. The touch pad was also not designed to have the functionality of the Wacom tabs. It’s a wonderful attempt at it, but for a (refurbished) Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch being about double the price of this software, it just isn’t worth the limitations.

    What this does excel at is giving 75% of the functionality when you’re in a pinch and don’t have your tab with you. When you have to run and gun a quick job on the road and you didn’t pack your tab, this just might be the ticket.

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  4. Brandon Dewey

    very cool, it looks interesting. I would like to hear real world experiences about this app.

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  5. robert garfinkle

    this is totally rad – talk about re-usability to the max.

    actually, now that this article mentions wacom etc, why not go further, take your samsung Note 10 tablet, with stylus or use your ipad to do thsi very same thing, use those as a way to touch up – those stylus can be aligned to do pressure sensitive work –

    the idea, to connect the tablet via usb / wifi to the laptop / macbook, and there ya go…


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    • robert garfinkle

      oh, I forgot – the whole motive behind doing this, is a tablet is a large enough surface area… :)

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