It's been almost four years since the launch of Apple Pencil 2, and the rumours keep coming for its long-awaited follow-up. While we still await a firm release date and official details for the next-gen Apple Pencil, it's not stopped leaks, rumours and speculation over what Apple is planning for its next pen stylus.
The next Apple Pencil matters because this stylus changed how a majority of artists work, and for many it helped transition from traditional to digital art. The introduction of Apple Pencil for iPad Pro enabled high-end tech usually reserved for Wacom users to come into the mainstream. The big question now is which to get, but the Apple Pencil vs Apple Pencil 2 debate could be superseded by Apple Pencil 3.
A new patent discovered by Patently Apple (opens in new tab) and reported over at Yanko Design (opens in new tab) details a twisty, rotating cap for the end of Apple's new stylus. The idea from Apple is to enable even more natural control over your devices without overcomplicating the slim and clean design of the Apple Pencil. You can catch up with how this works in our detailed Apple Pencil 2 review.
Apple Pencil 2 already features some neat ideas, such as the double-tap to control aspects of your apps. The new Apple patent shows the Cali-company is looking to extend this even further. One idea looks to be the option to cycle features in an app by rotating the next-gen Apple Pencil through your finger tips, which is referred to as the "rolling gesture" in the Apple patent (opens in new tab).
This is a complex idea that would see the current single-touch sensor of Apple Pencil 2 replaced by multi-touch sensors throughout the stylus' shaft. This could lead to new gesture controls being put into use, and even different areas of the new Apple Pencil stylus could feature bespoke gesture control – for example lower down the shaft and top-end of the pen could host different programmed gesture controls.
This rather fun full-length gesture control feature appears to be expanded, however, by using a simple twisting end cap to click through the touch sensors at the top of the stylus. The new patent shows how users could, for example, rotate the cap – or 'elastic insert' – and spin through brushes and pens found in a digital art app, say Procreate. Artist Sarang Sheth (opens in new tab) has created a wonderful render to show how this feature could work (above).
Selecting new brushes isn't the hardest thing but I for one will love being able to skip through my favourites without needing to poke at menus with a stylus. Whether this is controlled by using touch sensors to twist through options between thumb and finger or by using a cap, as Sheth suggests, to directly control features, this is a great idea from Apple that retains the Pencil's design simplicity.
If you've not yet tried the current Apple stylus then take a look at our guide to the best cheap Apple Pencil deals available now and get yourself a good offer. We also have a guide to the best the iPad apps that make the most of Apple Pencil to see what you can do with one.