A very cool Apple Pencil patent idea also hints at Apple Health coming to iPad

Apple's health message is a new spin on an old slogan: keep taking the tablets

Apple iPad Pro 2021 with Apple Pencil
(Image credit: Apple)

As much as I love the Apple Health app, I can't access its data on my iPad Air: the data from my iPhone and my Apple Watch Series 7 has nowhere to go on any of Apple's iPads. But that may be about to change. A newly discovered patent shows a redesigned Apple Health app with an important role for the Apple Pencil. No, not as a thermometer.

The patent, which has been unearthed by Patently Apple, shows an iPad-specific Health app with a new "scratchpad" designed specifically for the Apple Pencil.

The mock-ups look to me like they're designed for healthcare workers to use: the presence of name and date of birth fields at the top of the supplied images alongside links for different categories – wellness, tabs and conditions – looks rather like traditional paper-based medical documents that you hang on the base of a hospital bed.

Apple Health patent

(Image credit: USPTO)

But as the Apple Pencil can be used for input as well as in the Scratchpad, there's no reason why it can't be used by the rest of us as an input device for health data that isn't supplied automatically by iPhone or Apple Watch.

Even better would be if the Scratchpad became a common thing in iPad apps – a way to combine taking notes with text input makes a lot of sense. It'd be great in recipe apps, in journalling apps, in budgeting apps… anything that deals with a lot of information.

The rest of Apple's patent is all about sleep: sleep data, "awakening events", sleep sessions and more. That suggests that it's sleep tracking that's really keeping Apple's engineers awake at night, with more detailed sleep tracking coming to future iPhones and Apple Watches. As ever with patents, there's no guarantees that anything detailed in the patent will become an actual product, but it's an interesting insight into Apple's current thinking.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).