The next Apple Pencil might be able to 'see' color, according to a new patent

Apple Pencil 2 being used to draw a colorful image with a heart
The Apple Pencil 2 (Image credit: Future)

Apple is working on an Apple Pencil that can recognize the color of real-world objects and wirelessly transmit the sampled hues to your iPad, so that you can use them in your artwork and writing.

The Apple Pencil 2 is already the best iPad accessory, thanks to its fashionable yet functional design and its useful features, such as gesture controls and wireless charging. But Apple could be looking to launch a stylus that will serve as a superior companion for the best iPads out there – from the top-of-the-line iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) to the budget-friendly iPad (2022).

The company has filed a new patent that details an Apple Pencil stylus that can recognize the color of real-world objects (via Patently Apple). 

These images from Apple's patent show how sensors stored in the stylus (Fig 5) would emit and detect light through ports in the nib (Fig 3) (Image credit: Apple)

As detailed in the patent US 20220413636 A1 (and shown in the image above), Apple’s concept uses light emitters and sensors in its nib to detect and record the color and texture of surfaces it's placed on.

Unfortunately, as with any patent, there’s no guarantee that Apple will launch a color-sensing Pencil any time soon. While Apple has worked out how such a product would work in theory, in practice the extra sensors could make the device too bulky to be usable, among other potential issues that might prevent the device from being released. 

That said, with the Apple Pencil 2 now over four years old – it launched in November 2018 – the line is due for a fresh entry, and a color-sensing model would offer iPad owners a solid reason to upgrade their stylus. We’ll just have to hope that Apple’s improvements don’t make the already pricey accessory – the current model costs $129 / £119 / AU$199 – too much more expensive.

We’ll have to wait and see what 2023 holds, but we won’t be too surprised if alongside the iPhone 15 and Apple Watch 9 we also see the launch of an impressive Apple Pencil 3.

Don't want to wait to get an iPad stylus? Here are today's best Apple Pencil deals.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.