You might be able to attach paint brushes to future versions of the Apple Pencil

Future versions of the Apple Pencil may allow you to use multiple inputs as hinted by a newly granted patent (number 10,268,273). For example, you could attach brushes to the tip of the input device for digital painting on an iPad or iPhone.

In the patent filing, Apple says that electronic devices can include a touch screen that can provide an immersive multimedia user experience when used in interaction with an electronic stylus. And, yes, though Apple has repeatedly said that the Apple Pencil isn’t a stylus, that’s the way it’s always described in related patent filings.

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Apple says that, despite advancements in software to render the user's inputs and commands more accurately at the touch screen, the touch screen is unable to fully render the user's inputs due to limitations in the hardware of the electronic stylus. Accordingly, the tech giant says there’s a need to improve upon the user's multimedia experience by implementing flexible contact members at the electronic stylus. 

Here’s Apple’s summary of the patent: “According to some embodiments, an electronic stylus including flexible contact members disposed at a distal end of the housing, and at least some of which are capable of independently flexing relative to one another when contacting a protective layer of an electronic device. The components further include a sensor capable of (i) detecting a change in flexure of the flexible contact members in accordance with the contacting, and (ii) responding to the change in flexure by providing a corresponding detection signal. 

“The components can include a processor capable of generating a feedback instruction that is based upon the change in flexure. The component can include a communications unit that responds to the feedback instruction by transmitting a feedback parameter to the electronic device such that a graphical output is presented at a display of the electronic device in accordance with the change in flexure.”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.