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Next week’s “Spring Loaded” Apple event might have an extra surprise in store, with several rumours suggesting that a new third-generation Apple Pencil is expected to be on the roster.
We’ve heard rumours for a while that a new Apple Pencil is in the works, but as such a relatively minor product, it’s been hard to know with any certainty when it could be arriving.
However, with Apple expected to unveil its latest iPad Pro lineup next week, it’s safe to say that if a new Apple Pencil is going to arrive this year at all, it’s going to come at the same time. After all, even though Apple’s styluses work with the entire iPad lineup, the last two were announced alongside corresponding iPad Pro models.
In fact, until the fourth-generation iPad Air came along last fall, the second-generation Apple Pencil was exclusive to the iPad Pro, reliant as it was on the magnetic charging capabilities offered only in the square-edged iPad design. To this very day, the rest of the iPad lineup still uses the original, first-generation Apple Pencil.
The last two Apple Pencils were announced at fall events. Still, we wouldn’t read too much into that, since November 2015 saw the introduction of the very first iPad Pro — a device that was available only in the 12.9-inch size back then — and November 2018 was when Apple unveiled the first iPad Pro models with Face ID and the squared-edge design.
While it’s difficult to know for sure what Apple may have in mind for the third iteration of its stylus, it’s fair to say that it’s going to keep with tradition and introduce it alongside a new iPad Pro. Doing so gives Apple the best opportunity to position it as a key accessory for its flagship tablet.
What’s less certain is whether this one will also be exclusive to the Pro models.
The second-generation Apple Pencil was compatible only with the 2018/2020 iPad Pro and iPad Air 4 for a very obvious technical reason — it uses magnetic wireless charging that’s only available on those devices, and only practical on an iPad with a squared-edge design that the stylus can attach to.
While other iPad models still don’t offer any wireless charging support, it’s possible that Apple could try to unify the Apple Pencil lineup in some way with a new version that supports both wired and wireless charging, avoiding the need to continue selling and supporting multiple versions of the stylus.
At the other extreme, Apple could choose to make the new Apple Pencil compatible only with the 2021 iPad Pro, or at the very least, supporting new features and capabilities that will only be found in this year’s model.
Multiple leakers have now shared alleged photos and videos claiming to show the new Apple Pencil, with a design that looks very similar to the current second-generation stylus but with a glossy design that makes it obvious it’s a new product.
While the original Apple Pencil sported a glossy finish, the second-generation model switched that up for a matte design and flat edges for magnetic charging. If recent leaks are to be believed, the “Apple Pencil 3” will combine both styles, going back to the glossy look but keeping the same physical design.
What we know almost nothing about at this point is what the new Apple Pencil will offer. When Apple released the second-generation Apple Pencil in 2018, it introduced wireless charging and tap-based input controls and a more streamlined design that eliminated the metal ring, cap, and Lightning connector.
Of course, since there’s no reason to believe that the current Apple Pencil won’t work just fine with the newest iPad Pro, it’s safe to assume that a third-generation Apple Pencil will bring something new to the table.
This might be something as basic as increased precision, lower latency, and new gesture controls, which could be enough to distinguish it from its predecessor, especially for serious pro users like artists and illustrators.
However, Apple has also been researching and patenting a whole slew of other interesting ideas, including multiple gestures that could even include rolling your finger around the stylus to trigger certain actions, haptic feedback that will simulate the feel of drawing on paper or painting on a canvas, and even a built-in colour matching sensor.