The Apple Pencil has been quite a success, adding precision and comfort to those who want to use their iPad for art, graphic design or as a very expensive notebook. With the current model having made its debut back in November 2018, expectations are high that Apple may be about to upgrade the premium stylus.
In this article, we round up the rumours surrounding Apple Pencil Generation 3 to see what we can expect when it's finally in our grasp.
Apple has yet to confirm anything about the third generation of its Pencil, but looking at past release dates can help us predict when we might expect its arrival. The first-gen model was introduced on 11 November 2015, followed by the second-gen version three years later on 7 November 2018.
Admittedly, this is hardly an extensive form book to go on, but if Apple sticks to its previous pattern, we should see the third-gen Apple Pencil in November 2021. Of course, it could be much sooner than that, but with the iPad, Air and Pro ranges already updated this year and Apple's October 2020 iPhone 12 launch also yielding nothing, we think the new Pencil could appear when Apple releases the 2021 updates for its tablets.
There are rumours of a new 12.9in iPad Pro with a mini-LED display that could appear in the first quarter of 2021. If this becomes a reality then it's fully possible that the updated Apple Pencil will be by its side.
Design & Features
So far, the main rumour gaining traction is that the Apple Pencil (gen 3) will be the first to leave behind the white-only livery and introduce a black option. The main source of this speculation seems to stem from a tweet by the mysterious Mr White (@laobiTD) who posts various Apple-related images, including the recent leak of the iPhone 12's A14 RAM chip.
Apple has recently been granted a number of interesting patents in relation to the Apple Pencil, some of which may well appear in the third-gen model.
One of the more tempting innovations is a Touch Bar-like display on the side of the stylus. Now, in the diagram posted on the excellent Patently Apple website the windows appear to be quite small, but it's possible that this could have some kind of contextual options that allow extra functionality for the device. The image also indicates some kind of Force Touch capabilities that could be used to again add features to the Pencil.
There are also additional patents to show a new Pencil that can detect orientation and movements, with a twist motion acting as a trigger for a command. This seems to suggest a zoom control built right into the Pencil, which would be of great interest to artists who want to work on fine details then zoom out to see the bigger image.
Haptic feedback is another feature that could be set to arrive in the new model, as another patent has been reported that indicates a Pencil that will vibrate in response to data fed by an iPad or iPhone, making it feel as if the user is writing on paper or other textures. It's not immediately apparent if this will be that useful, but it could make the drawing or writing experience more authentic for those who prefer non-tech materials.
We've seen in the past that Apple has patented a concept for a Pencil to write, essentially, in the air. While this might appear a rather strange idea, when combined with VR or AR software it could become a fascinating new way to interact with digital images and data.
Of course, all this should be caveated by the fact that Apple applies for and is granted many patents, but a good deal of them never make it to a final product. At least, not yet.
When the first Apple Pencil arrived it cost £89/$99. This was followed by a price increase for the 2nd generation model, which debuted at £119/$129. Depending on some of the technology mentioned above, the 3rd-generation Apple Pencil could well lift that amount higher still. Incorporating touch panels and displays won't come cheap, so we wouldn't be surprised to see figures of £149/$159 or even more, with a possible price reduction for the older models.
We've seen recently with the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard that Apple doesn't baulk at putting huge price tags on its accessories, so sadly the velvet rope looks like it could well come into play for the new Apple Pencil when it does finally arrive. Whatever the details, be sure to check back here regularly as we continue to report on the latest news regarding Apple's premium stylus.