Apple Pencil code that was added to the second beta of iOS 17.1 references USB-C charging for the Apple Pencil, a function that does not exist for either of the two current Apple Pencil models that Apple sells.
“Connect to USB-C to recharge soon,” reads the text, which is accompanied by another line that says “Apple Pencil Battery Very Low.”
It is not clear if this is a reference to a new version of the Apple Pencil or text that is related to the USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter that allows the first-generation Apple Pencil to be charged using a 10th-generation iPad. With this adapter, the Apple Pencil plugs in to the Lightning end of the Adapter and the USB-C connector plugs into the iPad, facilitating a charge over USB-C.
iOS 17.1 Beta 2 (21B5056e) changes:
– Double Tap support added to watchOS 10.1 Beta 2 for Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2
– New Standby settings
Apple Pencil 3?
Also, code in beta 2 suggests that Apple might be planning an Apple Pencil 3 with USB-C charging support. The Apple… pic.twitter.com/3eeZuW9Zoq
— Steve Moser (@SteveMoser) October 3, 2023
Given that this adapter came out last year, it is not quite clear why Apple is just now adding the text, but it is a logical explanation and could be related to the possible launch of a next-generation low-cost iPad. The other option is that Apple is working on a new version of the Apple Pencil with a USB-C connector.
Apple could in theory refresh the original Apple Pencil to replace the Lightning connector with a USB-C connector without too much hassle, allowing the company to carry on offering the higher-end, slimmer magnetic Apple Pencil that works with the iPad Pro and other iPads, and the lower-cost, rounder Apple Pencil that charges via a connector and works with Apple’s low-cost iPad lineup.
A USB-C port might not make sense if Apple has plans for a third-generation Apple Pencil compatible with all iPads, as the new version would likely take after the second-generation Apple Pencil and charge magnetically via an iPad. A single Apple Pencil that has no connector at all and is able to work with all iPads would simplify the Apple Pencil lineup and cut down on any confusion.
Apple is transitioning its products to USB-C because of new European Union regulations that require electronics to use a universal port. Apple could opt for a USB-C charging option for fast charging purposes, but a future Apple Pencil would also be able to skirt the USB-C requirement with wireless charging.
Whether or not a new Apple Pencil has USB-C, there seems to be a third-generation version in the works. Earlier this week, a rumor suggested that the next Apple Pencil would feature magnetic tips with different shapes for drawing, sketching, and painting.