There could be more Apple Pencil gestures in store for future generations of the company’s iPad stylus. We saw the first of these in the second-generation device, in the form of a double-tap to quickly access tools.

You can currently customize this gesture to do one of four things…

  1. Fire up the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down to Apple Pencil. Tap on it.
  3. You’ll have four options to choose from: Switch Between Current Tool and EraserSwitch Between Current Tool and Last UsedShow Color Palette, and Off.

A new Apple patent application spotted by Pocket Lint takes this quite a few steps further.

First, it describes additional gestures, such as a triple-tap, a swiping motion, and a ‘rolling’ gesture.

The touch sensor can be used to detect a tap, double tap, triple tap, or another tap gesture by the user […] The sequence of inputs within a span of time can be interpreted by the stylus as a user’s tap gesture. Detected tap gestures can be correlated with preprogrammed functions to be performed by the stylus and/or an external device upon detection of the tap gestures. For example, one or more taps can be interpreted as a user input to change a characteristic (e.g., color, size, width, thickness, shape, etc.) of a marking produced by use of the stylus with the external device. By further example, one or more taps can be interpreted as a user input to perform functions on the external device, such as a copy function, a paste function, an undo function, and/or a redo function. By further example, one or more taps can be interpreted as a user input to change a tool (e.g., drawing, erasing, etc.) setting for generating markings on the external device […]

The touch sensor can be used to detect a sliding gesture by the user […]

The touch sensor can be used to detect a rolling gesture by the user. The rolling gesture can include movement of a finger about a circumference of the housing and/or rolling movement of the housing.

Second, it suggests that a capacitive sensor, similar to that used on an iPhone screen or most Touch ID buttons, could be incorporated so that the Pencil would only react to deliberate gestures.

A stylus comprising: a housing defining a grip region of the stylus; and a capacitive touch sensor comprising multiple sensing elements distributed circumferentially and longitudinally along an inner surface of the housing at the grip region, wherein the capacitive touch sensor is configured to detect movement of a finger with respect to the grip region while the grip region is held by other fingers.

Third, the patent covers all the bases in terms of other input devices that could be incorporated, including a camera.

The external device can include one or more of a processor, a memory, a power supply, one or more sensors, one or more communication interfaces, one or more data connectors, one or more power connectors, one or more input/output devices, such as a speaker, a rotary input device, a microphone, an on/off button, a mute button, a biometric sensor, a camera, a force and/or touch sensitive trackpad, and so on.

This last one is almost certainly just Apple’s patent lawyers covering all the bases rather than anything we’re likely to see in reality. More Apple Pencil gestures, on the other hand, seems eminently plausible.

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