6 improvements we’d like to see in the Apple Pencil 2

You might be excited about the new rumors dropping for the upcoming iPad Pro refresh, but I’m here salivating over the crumbs of info regarding the next Apple Pencil. To be frank, they’re not particularly filling: Monday’s report from 9to5Mac mainly claimed the next stylus would be easier to pair with an iPad, much as we see with the AirPods and HomePod. That’s cool and all, but the more I think about it, the more I’m surprised this feature wasn’t in at launch.

I’m not surprised the details are so scant. After all, the Apple Pencil is already close to perfect. The heft is spot-on. It comes closer to translating the feel of a real pen or pencil than any other stylus I’ve used. I feel as though I’m creating something, rather than merely using a tool for input.

And yet, for all that, I know there’s still some room for improvement. I’ve been using the Apple Pencil fairly steadily for well over a year now, and these are the features I’d like to see most of all.

A more elegant charging method

I’m not as much of a foe of the current method of charging the Apple Pencil as you might think. Sure, sticking the Apple Pencil in the iPad’s Lighting port makes the entire setup look like a $500 Southern church hand fan, but it also nixes the need to carry a cord (provided the iPad itself is charged). It also evades design complications that would ruin that wonderful heft. And anyway, much like the Magic Mouse, the Apple Pencil charges super quickly so you don’t need to keep it that way for long.

apple pencil chargingLeif Johnson/IDG

Go ahead. Laugh. We know you want to.

But yes, it could be better. One solution would be to introduce the next Apple Pencil with a female Lightning connector so you could charge it with a cable like almost every other iOS-compatible device. The Logitech Crayon charges that way and it works fine. For that matter, Apple could introduce wireless charging for the Apple Pencil, much as it’s rumored to do for the AirPods’ charging case. I especially like that idea: Putting down your Pencil on the pad would feel a bit like putting pens in a penholder on your desk.

A better way to see the Apple Pencil’s battery level

The Apple Pencil looks so darn good in part because it doesn’t have all the technical doohickies you normally find with peripherals. You’ll find no little green lights on sides of the device, and even the charging port is elegantly hidden (unless, of course, you lose the cap). It’s beautiful, and very little about it screams “gadget.”

All the same, it’s kind of annoying to pick up an Apple Pencil in a flush of inspiration and realize the battery is dead, particularly since you have no easy way to check it. Essentially, aside from simply tapping the screen to see if the Pencil works, the only way to check the battery is to swipe over to your notifications panel and consult the battery widget there.

apple pencil charging notificationsLeif Johnson/IDG

I’m sensing a pattern.

I’d be willing to bet that it will stay this way. Adding any kind of feature like this runs the risk of diminishing the the grace of the Apple Pencil’s design. A possible solution would be to include a charging light that’s hidden under the cap along with the Lightning connector, similarly to what we see in the case for the AirPods. Much as in that device, it’d get the job done without being intrusive.