A future Apple Pencil stylus could pick out colors from the real world

Apple Pencil
(Image credit: Future)

Like the look of a color you see on a tshirt or a book cover? You might one day be able to tap your Apple Pencil on it and use it in your own digital designs, according to a newly published Apple patent.

The patent, as spotted by AppleInsider, details a "color-sampling stylus" that uses sensors to pick up colors that it's pointed at. This would obviously come in very handy for art and sketching apps on the iPad.

This is actually an idea that has been appearing in Apple patents at least as far back as 2014, so don't assume that this is suddenly going to be rushed to market – though we think it would be a popular upgrade.

It sounds as though the color-picking Apple Pencil would come with small lights on board, both to help you point at what you wanted to sample the color from (like a laser pen) and to indicate syncing status with another device like a tablet.

Apple Pencil patent

(Image credit: USPTO/Apple)

New iPad models are always on the horizon, but considering the patent was only published this week and filed last November, it doesn't appear that Apple would have enough time to get an upgraded stylus out before the end of 2020.

The current second-gen Apple Pencil is already a fine little device, but there's always room for improvement. Previous patents have hinted at support for new gestures – sliding your finger along the side of the pencil to scroll through a webpage, for example.

There have also been reports that Apple is considering adding stylus support to the iPhone, but for the time being the accessory only works with Apple tablets. We can't really see that changing with the iPhone 12, either.

As always with patent applications, there's no guarantee that this device will ever make it to market, but it does show one of the Apple Pencil upgrades that are being considered. It's something to watch out for at the next iPad launch event.

You might also want to check out the best Apple Pencil alternatives.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.