The Apple Pencil 3 needs a bigger overhaul than just a new color

Apple Pencil First-Generation with pencils
Apple Pencil First-Generation with pencils (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

When Apple launched the original Apple Pencil back in September 2015 with the first-generation iPad Pro, it became an invaluable tool for many, especially artists. The second-generation Apple Pencil came in October 2018 with the third-generation iPad Pro, and it brought a brand new design with touch-sensitive areas for added functionality. While both generations of Apple Pencil were originally only compatible with iPad Pro, more iPads have gained compatibility with the first-generation Apple Pencil since 2018.

A recent leak surfaced about the Apple Pencil 3, but honestly, there wasn't much to go on. All that was evident in the latest rumor is that there may be a new style of tip for the next Apple Pencil, and it may come in black.

I'm hoping for more to the next Apple Pencil 3 than just a new tip and color. After all, there are some things that Apple could learn from some of the best Apple Pencil alternatives out there.

A universal Apple Pencil, please

Apple Pencil 1 and 2 in X shape

Apple Pencil 1 and 2 in X shape (Image credit: iMore)

One of the most annoying things about the Apple Pencil right now is that there are two different models and each are only compatible with certain iPad models. The first-generation Apple Pencil only works with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, 10.5-inch iPad Pro, 12.9-inch iPad Pro (1st or 2nd gen), iPad Air (3rd gen), iPad (6, 7, and 8th gen), and iPad mini (5th gen). The Apple Pencil 2 only works with the 11-inch iPad Pro (1st gen and later), 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3rd gen and later), and iPad Air (4th gen).

As you can tell, it can be a little confusing for the average consumer figuring out which Apple Pencil works with your iPad because there are so many. That's why if Apple is going to have a third-generation Apple Pencil, it should eliminate the compatibility issue and just be universal and work with all iPad models, regardless. It would streamline everything and make it easier to tell someone which Apple Pencil to get for their iPad because it's just the one that works with all of them.

To top it off, a universal Apple Pencil 3 should also work with an iPhone. One of my iOS 15 wishes is for Apple Pencil support, which would open up so many more possibilities on the best iPhone. With a universal Apple Pencil and an iPhone, people could turn their devices into a small notepad, draw or sketch on-the-go when creativity hits them, or just not have to rely on their fingers all the time, smudging up the screen.

There's a lot of potential with the next Apple Pencil 3, but universal compatibility needs to be a top priority.

The Apple Pencil could double as a mouse

Magic Mouse Hero

Magic Mouse Hero (Image credit: iMore)

Even though the Apple Pencil is what we would consider the best stylus for the iPad, that doesn't mean that Apple can't learn a thing or two from competitors. One of the more interesting stylus options is the Adonit Note-M, which has a built-in mouse sensor with left and right-click buttons and a scrolling wheel.

I mean, just imagine being able to use an Apple Pencil like a mouse — it would just be taking the mouse and trackpad support in iPadOS one step further. Plus, if the Apple Pencil 3 had such functionality, it would mean one less thing that you would have to carry with your iPad.

Make the Apple Pencil more customizable

Adonit Note+ Stylus

Adonit Note+ Stylus (Image credit: Karen S Freeman / iMore)

Another thing that I'd like to have is more customization options when using the Apple Pencil. For example, we should be able to program a specific function to the touch area (or buttons) while working in specific apps. This kind of functionality is already available in another third-party stylus, the Adonit Note+.

The Apple Pencil is another tool for many users, and being able to personalize the functionality for your needs makes it more flexible. After all, not all of us are artists and don't use the Pencil for drawing. Some of us just use it for navigation, others for handwriting notes — there are plenty of use cases for the Apple Pencil, so let us customize it to do what we want.

What do you want to see in the next Apple Pencil 3?

I mean, I would love to see the Apple Pencil come in black (or even more colors, honestly), but I want to see more functionality added first. And make it universal! The current lineup of iPads and Apple Pencils is a little convoluted and not as streamlined as it should be for the average person.

What do you hope to see in the next-generation Apple Pencil? Let us know in the comments.

Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed. When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.