What it is: The Apple Pencil is a drawing tool for the iPad, but Apple may have plans to use the Apple Pencil for the iPhone as well.
For artists, the Apple Pencil is indispensable for making it easy to draw without using your fingertip although that’s possible as well. While initially designed for the iPad, the Apple Pencil may eventually be used for the iPhone too.
First, Apple recently patented a loop holder for holding the Apple Pencil. Currently you have to find a way to store the Apple Pencil separate from your iPad, which increases the chance you’ll either lose the Apple Pencil or not be able to find it easily when you want it. Providing a simple Apple Pencil holder to an spade or iPhone case makes it easy to store the Apple Pencil when you need to keep it with your iOS device.
Why Apple didn’t think of this earlier is a mystery, but hopefully the next generation of iPad and iPhone covers will include a loop for holding the Apple Pencil. Beyond simply carrying an Apple Pencil, the next question is adding Apple Pencil support to the iPhone.
For the Apple Pencil to remain an iPad only accessory doesn’t make much sense given that the iPad and iPhone both use iOS. So adding support for the Apple Pencil on the iPhone makes sense. The big question is how will that support work?
Right now, the iPhone works best for quick interactions and there’s nothing faster than pointing at something on the screen than your own fingers. The Apple Pencil excels as a drawing tool on the iPad and would likely work as a drawing tool for the iPhone too, but it also makes sense for Apple to position the Apple Pencil as an iPad/iPhone accessory as well for people who may not want to draw.
In Chinese and other Asian languages, you can draw characters on the screen with your finger, but it might be easier to use an Apple Pencil instead. For non-Asian language use, the Apple Pencil could be handy for jotting down notes on the screen with advanced handwriting recognition.
Right now, typing ideas on a virtual keyboard is fine, but somewhat clumsy. Would writing with an Apple Pencil be easier? For some people, the answer would be yes, and handwriting recognition would be a feature that would appeal to a wide variety of people, not just artists who want a drawing tool.
Instead of typing on the small screen of the iPhone, it would likely feel more more natural and be faster to write with the Apple Pencil instead. So if Apple plans to add Apple Pencil support for the iPhone, handwriting recognition looks like the most useful and obvious feature to make the Apple Pencil useful for everyone.
With advanced handwriting recognition features on iOS, every iPad and iPhone could become an electronic notepad for drawing and writing. You could still write and draw with your finger if you want, but an Apple Pencil could make this task far simpler, and that would make the Apple Pencil an appealing accessory for many iPad/iPhone users.
So expect Apple to announce handwriting recognition this summer at their annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference. Without handwriting recognition, the Apple Pencil serves little purpose beyond appealing to artists. With handwriting recognition, the Apple Pencil suddenly becomes a vastly more useful tool that almost everyone will want if they draw or write often on their iOS device.