Last year, Apple unveiled an all-new stylus alongside its enterprise-minded iPad Pro. Called the Apple Pencil, the tool used a number of tiny sensors to translate miniscule motions into a variety of visual effects. If you had ever written or drawn with a traditional pencil, the Cupertino, California company claimed, you would already know how to use the Apple Pencil. As revolutionary as the product may have been, a recently published patent hints that Apple has more innovation in store for its vision of the modern stylus.
The patent details the plans for a stylus much like the existing Apple Pencil, but including a series of touch sensors along the side that would allow users to manipulate items on the screen. For example, while drawing with the Pencil, a simple swipe of the thumb could scroll through a color wheel or adjust the size of the brush head. Shortcuts like this would allow designers to work uninterrupted, allowing them to complete complex compositions without taking their hand off the stylus.
That being said, it could be difficult to make such controls intuitive, especially when using the Apple Pencil between multiple apps. Or, frustration could ensue if artists triggered the sensors accidentally while working.
It is important to note that this patent was originally filed in December 2014, nearly a year before Apple unveiled the Pencil. That being said, it is possible the technology required to support this patent was simply not ready in time to ship with the first version of the stylus, and that Apple is continuing to develop it for future iterations of the Pencil. Or, this patent could end up like the thousands of others that never see the outside of an Apple R&D lab.