New Apple patents, found by AppleInsider, have shown the company's idea for an Apple Pencil stylus featuring a touch bar, and another for improved haptics. Together, these features could give future iPads and iPad Pros an even bigger selling point than the Pencil already provides.
The first patent shows a Touch Bar, like the one present on recent MacBook Pros, which can be used as an additional control method. This would also make the Pencil look transparent, allowing the user to see what's beneath the area the stylus covers.
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The Apple Pencil could also benefit from a glass design, as outlined in the patent. Glass is tougher than plastic; it's the reason the majority of smartphones' displays are made of glass. Therefore having a glass stylus would mean it's less like to be open to debris or discolored, although this would make it more fragile than a plastic stylus.
The Touch Bar can also act as an input method, detecting double or triple taps or sliding motions, which would be great for artists swapping between brush types and sizes in a drawing app. The touch display would also allow the Pencil to change colors, indicating what the currently selected color or tool was
Like the current Gen 2. Apple Pencil, this would still magnetically attach to the side of an iPad, and charge while it was there. The Gen. 2 Pencil also has touch functionality, but only recognizes a double-tap.
A second patent found by Apple Insider shows a new kind of haptic feedback for the Apple Pencil. We've seen a previous Apple Pencil haptic patent that would allow for the stylus to deform to act as a button or to give feedback to the user, but this one would nudge a user's hand towards where an app thinks it should go.
Potential uses would be helping users draw perfect circles or other shapes, or helping avoid potential mis-clicks. The patent also suggests it could be used as a form of autocomplete while typing on the virtual keyboard, directing the user towards commonly used letters and away from less likely options. This system could also be used to stop the pencil from rolling away when placed on an iPad.
The usual warning with patents applies here - these are just ideas that many never enter production, and any that do may be years away from being added to something you can buy. But that doesn't stop us being impressed at what Apple's designers are coming up with.