Patent Indicates Possible Touch Sensitive Apple Pencil

The Apple Pencil 2 is sorely overdue for an update. Rumors suggest that the third generation device will feature a gesture-sensitive area.

By Chand Bellur

January 27, 2020 at 6:26 p.m. PDT

Touch Sensitive Apple Pencil Coming Soon?

Apple products evolve slowly over time. This process of small, incremental changes frustrates some tech critics, but delights most customers. It gives us products that just work, instead of confusing, bleeding edge junk.

The Apple Pencil evolves slower than an iPhone, yet still changes over time. Used with the latest iPad and iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil allows artists and designers to express themselves with nuances such as pressure sensitivity and control over the drawing point’s angle.

The second generation Apple Pencil added support for a rudimentary tapping gesture. Users can tap the Pencil to change modes. Software can handle the tap gesture in different ways, but it’s very limited.

A recent patent suggest that Apple may be adding new gestures to the Apple Pencil. The patent specifically mentions that “tactile input can be received at the user’s natural grip location”. While it’s not clear what kind of input this would entail, it’s likely more sophisticated than the Apple Pencil 2’s tap gesture.

When to Expect New Apple Pencil 3

The Apple Pencil launched alongside a new lineup of iPad Pro models back in October 2018. It’s expected that a refresh will occur soon.

The new Apple Pencil will likely debut at the same time as new, improved iPad Pro models. It’s also possible that Apple will refresh the standard iPad, which is now compatible with the Apple Pencil.

How Successful is the Apple Pencil

AirPods and Apple Watches are virally successful accessories, however, the Apple Pencil doesn’t seem to have as much traction. Unlike the Apple Watch and AirPods, Apple Pencil sightings are rare.

Apple Pencil sales data is difficult to find. At best, one can find estimates of the number of units shipped. In 2017, Apple shipped approximately 5 million Apple Pencils. For most companies, this would be a success, but for Apple, it’s relatively embarrassing. One analyst claimed that Apple would double Pencil sales in 2018, but no available information can confirm this number.

Suffice it to say, the Apple Pencil isn’t as successful as AirPods or the Apple Watch. It doesn’t need to be. It only works with a few models of iPad. As consumers update their iPads, some may opt for the convenient device. Expect to see sales of the Apple Pencil increase, but it will never be a massive hit.

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