Alongside the expected updates to the iPad and iPad Pro family, Apple is expected to offer an upgraded Apple Pencil during 2017. There are a number of indications in the supply chain that the introduction could happen by the end of March.
The Apple Pencil is one of the key “value adds” that the iPad Pro range of tablets has. It helps promote the hardware as suitable for creatives, increases the use of the tablet to author new content (as opposed to being used to consume content, a role that historically tablets have been very good at) and also keeps Apple relevant in the small but fanatical “pen-based computing” circles.
The Apple Pencil will always be compared to the highly capable styli in the shape of Samsung’s S-Pen and Microsoft’s Surface Pen. The competition may have more features than the Pencil. Both have extra buttons on the barrels that can be used to call up functions and act as modifiers for menu options and on-screen actions. Apple has always favored minimalism in its design and it may not go the way of buttons on the barrel — this would change the back to basics approach Apple has (“it’s a pencil, use it like one”).
Any hardware changes are likely to focus on charging and internal hardware such as the antennas, as well as options to help store the device through the use of magnets that would allow it to be held in place by a new iPad tablets.
With discussion around three new iPad models building, it makes sense to update the Apple Pencil along with the updates to the current iPad Pro machines and the potential new iPad Pro with a 10-inch display. The pencil may not be used by everyone, but it’s a powerful symbol of Apple’s intentions.