A next-generation Apple Pencil could have a built-in touchscreen. And it’s apparently an actual improvement, not just something bolted on to make it cost more. The display would let the user know what color they’re about to draw with.
Unlike a regular crayon or paintbrush, an Apple Pencil can be set to draw or paint in any color. But a user can quickly glance at one of those traditional tools to see what color they’re using. That’s not possible with a stylus.
Apple applied for a patent that solves this problem. The proposed “Stylus with Display” has a tiny screen that shows the color the user has selected.
Proposing an Apple Pencil with a touchscreen and camera
Not content to stop there, Apple engineers proposed making the display a touchscreen. As the patent application puts it, “The stylus can further provide an ability for the user to manually select a color, which can then be shown on the display of the stylus and transmitted to the external device for application.”
Taking the idea and running with it, the engineers imagine building a camera into the Apple Pencil. “The stylus can further include an ability to scan a color from a physical object,” reads their proposal.
Whether any of these ideas will appear in a shipping iPad accessory is an open question. This company regularly patents designs that don’t get released, like its idea for an Apple Paintbrush.