Apple Pencil patent suggests a massive hardware upgrade could be coming

It would make the Apple Pencil even more attractive to artists and graphic designers

A person using the Apple Pencil to draw on an iPad
(Image credit: Apple)

Since late 2015, the Apple Pencil has been a staple of Apple's accessory line. Used in conjunction with an iPad, the pencil allows users a greater degree of accuracy and control, whether that's for everyday tasks, or specialisms like graphic design.

Now, a patent application published by Apple suggests that there could be a big change to a future iteration. The application, unearthed by Patently Apple (opens in new tab), shows the Apple Pencil we all know, but with two optical sensors in the tip. The aim is to enable users to pick colours and textures from the world around them, and use them in designs.

It's a brilliant idea. Being able to just use colours from the real world would be fantastic – like one of those Dulux colour matching stations, but for your digital artwork. But the real clincher is the texture functionality, which could yield some really interesting results.

For casual users, the ability to see a texture, pick it up and use it in designs will make the whole process of creating digital artwork much less daunting. For professional users, it could save time, allowing them to utilise textures around them, rather than painstakingly recreating them.

It's worth noting that there is no time-frame for this feature, though. In fact, there's no guarantee we'll see it at all. Apple has historically patented all sorts of technology that they work on behind the scenes. While some of it does shape commercial releases, many more are left behind, never to see the light of day.

I certainly hope this one does, though. It has a wealth of real-world uses that will appeal to creative users and make it easier to create exceptional artwork.

Sam Cross
Staff Writer

Online news writer at T3.com, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism, with work featured in publications like Metro and Last Word on Sports. After years writing about music and football, Sam now turns his hand to bringing you news about new phones, smart home products, smart watches, laptops and TVs. Sam is a longtime fan and user of Apple products, including iPhones, MacBooks and Apple Watches.He’s also T3’s resident football expert, bringing you everything you need to know about the big games, including how to watch them. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, watch lover and (very) amateur golfer.