What it is: The Apple Pencil is a dedicated drawing and pointing tool initially offered just for the iPad Pro.
When Apple introduced the iPad Pro, they also introduced the Apple Pencil. At the time, the Apple Pencil seemed limited to just the iPad Pro, but if it was just an accessory for a single iPad model, that would be a tremendous waste of resources. As it turns out, Apple recently received a patent to use the Apple Pencil on a trackpad such as the Magic Trackpad used with the Macintosh.
This makes far more sense that the Apple Pencil would be an optional drawing and pointing device that could turn a trackpad into a digital drawing tablet. For years, artists have bought dedicated drawing tablets from companies such as Wacom, but the Apple Pencil threatens to make digital drawing tablets obsolete by letting users draw directly on the trackpad.
The trackpad can already detect motion with a fingertip so it seems trivial to allow the trackpad to detect the Apple Pencil as well. In a worse case scenario, this will require the purchase of a new Magic Trackpad to work with the Apple Pencil. In a best case scenario, the Magic Trackpad can already detect pressure so perhaps the next version of macOS will enable the current version of the trackpad to work with the Apple Pencil.
Whatever happens in the future, the Apple Pencil is not restricted just to the iPad Pro any more, but will likely become a common optional device to go along with the Macintosh and most likely the iPhone as well.
Just like today, many people do not need the Apple Pencil but many more will find the Apple Pencil an intuitive pointing device than the mouse or trackpad, or an indispensable drawing tool that eliminates the need to buy additional drawing tablets.
The traditional PC user interface relied on menus and icons. The traditional smartphone user interface relies on icons and touch screens that can detect motions such as swipes and taps. Tomorrow’s user interface will likely blend the two into one until it will seem just as common to control a computer or smartphone with finger gestures as it will be to control it with a pointing device like the Apple Pencil.
The Apple Pencil isn’t just an iPad Pro accessory but the start of a new user interface design. Drawing has always been clumsy with a mouse and slightly better with a trackpad and a fingertip. With the Apple Pencil, drawing can be more natural. The biggest problem with the Apple Pencil is simply keeping track of it.