New Apple Pencil to 'shake' things up in a big way

Apple Pencil drawing on iPad
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's new iPad M2 and iPad Pro M3/M4 models are likely to steal the show at the upcoming 'Let Loose' event on May 7. However, there's a reason that the Apple Pencil is placed front and center on the showcase's artwork.

There's long been word that the new Apple Pencil will feature interchangeable magnetic tips, allowing users to choose which tip (typically differentiated by hardness) suits them best for any given task. This means having a softer nib available for digital painting, and harder nibs for more defined or technical drawings—similar to the offerings of the excellent Adonit Note+ 2 stylus.

Then, earlier in April 2024, the Apple aficionados at iMore revealed that stylus-based gesture controls would be heading to the iPad, with support added to the code of the iPadOS 17.5 beta. Two of these gestures were identified as a long squeeze and a double squeeze, indicating that the new Apple Pencil could allow users to make inputs without ever having to move out of their chosen grip. That's great, but that's not all.

Yesterday, April 28, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman revealed that the new Apple Pencil would feature haptic feedback for the first time. What is haptic feedback? A simple way to think of this is the way your phone might subtly vibrate as you press the keys on a virtual keyboard or how a game controller like the PS5's DualSense delivers a 'rumble' response to in-game actions.

Haptic feedback simulates a physical response using vibrations and is a great way of communicating physical feedback to an action performed by a user—especially on devices without mechanical buttons or switches.

Reinventing the Pencil

While these two Apple Pencil additions may seem small, placing touch-sensitive controls on the stylus could have a massive impact on its functionality. However, it's hard to say exactly how much things would change without further information.

Luckily, we may already have that information available to us—all contained within Apple's June 14, 2022 filings of patents US-11360616-B1 and US-11360560-B2. Don't worry, I'll spare you the long read and technical jargon.

Both patents pertain to potential Apple Pencil features that include touch-based inputs with haptic feedback and compressive force sensors. In layman's terms, an Apple pencil that lets you interact with "virtual" buttons by swiping, tapping, or squeezing.

This could mean changing your brush size by simply swiping your index finger backward while holding the pencil, squeezing the Pencil to quickly activate the eraser tool, or tapping/double-tapping the Pencil to access Undo or Redo functions.


These Apple Pencil innovations could mean less time tapping around menus, or and more time actively working on whatever project is at hand. It could also mean that buttons are no more for the Apple Pencil, with these touch-sensitive controls taking the place of any physical switches.

Yes, it's not quite on the same level of hardware excitement as new M2, M3, and potentially even M4-touting iPads, but this is a considerable step up for Apple's accessories—and would pair very nicely with rumors of a total overhaul for the iPad's Magic Keyboard.

The only questions remaining is when we can expect to see Apple's next-gen stylus and how much it will cost. While it's practically a certainty that we'll see it unveiled during the 'Let Loose' event on May 7, will it be released alongside the iPads showcased? We can't say for sure, but it's highly likely that Apple will be aiming for the trifecta of iPad, Magic Keyboard, and Apple Pencil.

As for price, we've no indication of the new Apple Pencil's MSRP, not even a hint. The latest Apple Pencil to release was a USB-C refit which came in at under $100. Given its limited feature set when compared to this potential new offering, I'd expect Apple to push the price tag of its new Pencil above the $100 barrier once more. However, by how much, we can't say for sure.

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Rael Hornby
Content Editor

Rael Hornby, potentially influenced by far too many LucasArts titles at an early age, once thought he’d grow up to be a mighty pirate. However, after several interventions with close friends and family members, you’re now much more likely to see his name attached to the bylines of tech articles. While not maintaining a double life as an aspiring writer by day and indie game dev by night, you’ll find him sat in a corner somewhere muttering to himself about microtransactions or hunting down promising indie games on Twitter.