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iPad Pro is prepping a secret new weapon to embarrass the Surface Pro

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil
(Image credit: Future)

Apple and Microsoft both offer optional styluses with their premium tablets: the Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro and the Surface Pen for the Surface Pro 7. And now we know how Apple may be planning to pull ahead of Microsoft when it comes to stylus technology.

A patent, found by Apple Insider, was filed with the USPTO on February 18, 2020, and details a “Touch-based input device with haptic feedback.”

(Image credit: USPTO)

According to the patent, this technology would add a deformable section to the part of the Pencil’s casing where the user holds it. This area could then be pressed in by the user to activate assigned functions and to show whatever software runs the show how exactly the Pencil is being held. 

The area could then also be made to deform outwards to subtly alert the user of something without shaking the pencil and spoiling whatever the user was working on. This alert could help users better feel like they’re pressing a button or judge where the edge of a workspace is.

(Image credit: USPTO)

This is only a patent, and therefore may only make it to market in a drastically different form, if at all. But we can dream of something like this coming to a future Apple Pencil. While styluses are good for certain tasks, they aren’t always as intuitive to use for navigating through a desktop or home screen. This kind of haptic feedback would in theory give users a more natural feeling experience even when using a stylus instead of their hands and fingers, and would give Apple's tablets a big advantage over Microsoft's. 

Perhaps this has convinced you to go for an iPad Pro over the equivalent Surface model? We can’t blame you, it’s a fantastic tablet and can often be found at small discounts around the web.

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. He's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.