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New patent points to a future Apple Pencil with a touch interface

Apple Pencil touch patent
Apple Pencil touch patent (Image credit: Apple Insider)

What you need to know

  • A new patent suggests an Apple Pencil with touch sensing is coming.
  • The Apple pencil would have a touch-sensitive area near the tip.
  • It would disregard accidental touches.

A new patent suggests Apple is working on an upgraded Apple Pencil that would be able to detect when a user swipes a finger along it. The new tactile input would be a marked improvement on the second-generation Apple Pencil which can already sense taps.

The patent, titled "Touch-based input for stylus," carries US Patent Number 20200012358 and was spotted by Apple Insider.

While the new Apple Pencil would be able to sense when a user interacts with it, the patent says that the device would be able to tell when a user is simply holding it rather than interacting with it.

Furthermore, the stylus can effectively distinguish between tactile inputs from a user and disregard sustained tactile inputs that are provided while the user simply holds the stylus at the user's natural grip location.

It's possible that such a sensitive Apple Pencil could allow users to alter the size of on-screen drawing tools by swiping a finger up and down the device. They may also be able to use it for other things, such as scrolling through a web page or document in a similar manner to a scroll wheel on a mouse.

We've seen plenty of Apple Pencil-related patents recently including one that puts a status indicator into the stylus. Another includes haptic feedback which could potentially be used in conjunction with today's patent.

As ever, it's important to remember that not every patent results in a product being announced. Still, it's fun to wonder, isn't it?

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.