Apple only recently debuted a stylus that provides iPad owners with useful functionality, but a patent award shows the company has been thinking about it for a while. The patent was filed in 2011 and was recently awarded to the company.
Many of the functions described in the patent describe current functions of the Apple Pencil but it's the new functionality that hints at expanded capability. This is especially the case of the description of multiple nibs with sensors that each can do a particular task. These include nibs with different types and widths of paint brushes, turning the Pencil into a true artist's brush.
These would have pressure sensitivity, making a medium that reacts to the proper touch. The feature as detailed in the patent application would make the stylus work much like real tools used by artists. This brings to mind various paint brush nibs and a charcoal pencil for those wanting to work in that medium. There is also a pencil lead tip outlined that would cause better digital handwriting interpretation.
An interesting feature in the patent concerns adding unique codes to the nibs. These would be sensed when the pencil hits the display screen, triggering unique functions. One scenario that comes to mind is giving workgroup members pencils with unique codes for each member. This would let groups collaborate on the screen and the software would know who did what.
This is a patent so it may never be used by Apple but this is a natural extension to the Apple Pencil used with the iPad Pro. It sounds like something the company may incorporate for products in the future.