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Upcoming Apple Pencil could detect colours and textures

Colours on tap

Close-up of Apple Pencil in front of iPad Air

We’re only a few days into 2023, and we’re already hearing about upcoming Apple products! While the Apple Pencil is a pretty advanced stylus, it’s not changed much across generations. But thanks to a recent patent, it looks like future versions of the smart stylus could pack some extra smarts.

In a patent filed in the US, Apple details a future Apple Pencil that samples colours and textures from the real world. The stylus would use colour sensors in the tip to detect the colour of objects, and then send that information back to a connected iPad. Ambient light sensors and light emitters would also help the Pencil to detect the texture of an object’s surface.

Sketch of the Apple Pencil detecting colours from the patent

With the Apple Pencil used mainly by creatives, this upcoming feature could bring some exceptional functionality to the stylus. It would make designing or drawings objects easier, with colours and textures applied at a touch of the Pencil. We’d certainly expect it to boost the stylus’ popularity as well.

Since this is currently only a patent (and a recently filed one at that), there’s no telling when we might see the feature. The second-generation Apple Pencil launched in 2018, so a third-gen option should be coming soon. We’d expect the release alongside new iPad Pros – and we’re set for a big iPad Pro refresh in 2024 with the M3 chipset and OLED panel.

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Connor is a writer for Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website. He has been writing for around seven years now, with writing across the web and in print too. Connor has experience on most major platforms, though does hold a place in his heart for macOS, iOS/iPadOS, electric vehicles, and smartphone tech. Just like everyone else around here, he’s a fan of gadgets of all sorts! Aside from writing, Connor is involved in the startup scene. This exciting involvement puts him at the front of new and exciting tech, always on the lookout for innovating products.

Areas of expertise

Mobile, macOS, EVs, smart home

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