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The next Apple Pencil could have touch controls, according to this patent

apple pencil sensors patent
Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

Although Steve Jobs was long against the idea of the stylus, Apple released one alongside the iPad Pro last year. Now, however, it looks like Apple wants to take the Apple Pencil to the next level. How? By adding touch sensors to it. These touch sensors will allow users to manipulate things in the iPad’s screen simply by how they hold the Pencil.

A patent for the concept was spotted by AppleInsider, and was actually filed back in December 2014, almost a full year before the Apple Pencil was released.

Related: Whip out your Apple Pencil and try out the 11 best iPad Pro drawing apps

Of course, this isn’t the first patent to surface explaining where Apple might take the Apple Pencil. A patent was spotted last month that described different tips for the Apple Pencil, as well as sensors in the back of the Pencil so it could be used like an eraser.

stylus-with-touch-sensors

The patent itself is called Stylus With Touch Sensor, and it shows an array of sensors that would be capable of determining exactly where the fingers are on the Pencil, which could be helpful for a number of reasons. For example, as TechCrunch notes, it could detect that the user is rotating the Pencil, which could then rotate items on the screen of the device.

The sensors could also be used to access shortcuts. For example, tap the stylus with a finger while you’re drawing, and it could change to a different tool. This would avoid the need to access menus on the screen of the device.

Of course, none of this means that we’ll actually see an Apple Pencil with sensors. Apple regularly files patents that it ultimately doesn’t use. Still, what we can gleam from this is that Apple is thinking about the next step of the Pencil, and it’s unlikely the device will keep its current form forever.