By now, everyone is expecting tomorrow’s Apple event to feature the unveiling of the next generation iPad Pro, consumer-level MacBook, and a new take on the Mac mini. But those are just the headliners. It is among all things possible that the smaller, supporting products will steal the show.
Among those supporting actors is the Apple Pencil. The current Pencil has been almost universally hailed as the best of the breed. And that was Apple’s first attempt at a stylus. In late-breaking news reported by Apple Insider, it is all but confirmed that a second generation Apple Pencil will be announced alongside the new iPad Pro.
“A new version of the Apple Pencil may make an appearance at tomorrow’s Apple special event, according to a pair of tweets from developers, with the updated stylus tipped to include support for gestures made along its body.”
One reason to expect a new Apple Pencil is because of the expected addition of USB-C to the iPad Pro, replacing the current Lightning connector. The connector is how the current Pencil Pairs and charges. It is reasonable to conclude that a new connector will necessitate a new Pencil.
The other reason to expect a new pencil is that two developers found code that hints at capabilities that would require new hardware. One of those new capabilities is gesture control. It is not clear how deep those gestures go. Samsung introduced so many gestures with the first Note that they had to scale them back.
“More tweets from developer Steve Troughton-Smith notes there are properties in the iOS code for ‘UIPencilAdjustmentInteraction’ that may enable the rumored features. A version ending with ‘DidTap:’ and ‘didSlide:Phase:’ are said by Troughton-Smith to be the ‘new favorite delegate methods’ for developers of drawing apps. “
Steve Troughton-Smith further speculates that there will be some sort of button along the side of the Pencil. This seems unlikely because of Apple’s storied hatred of buttons. They take pleasure in removing them when possible. So it would be unusual for Apple to insert a button where one didn’t exist before.
If announced tomorrow, Apple Pencil gestures will not come as a complete surprise to Apple watchers. The company has filed patents related to Apple Pencil gestures in the past. The only real surprise is that it has taken this long for Apple to introduce a second version of the accessory.
Other rumors include Apple making the next Apple Pencil work with the iPhone so that it can be more like the Galaxy Note. While this would make very good financial sense, there is no real indication that Apple is ready to make that move.