Apple’s R&D department has, presumably, spent many years and millions of dollars on removing boundaries between users and their interfaces. The iPad marks the modern pinnacle of that progression – or perhaps regression – where the user simply picks it up and points at things with their fingers. But, despite Apple’s insistence on minimising, some users still prefer to have something between them and their tablet.
Third party manufacturers have found some success in selling stylus peripherals, with companies like Hard Candy producing a chrome fountain pen-style device that’s reportedly proved popular.
While some might consider using a pen to be retrograde, the fact is that some tasks, such as taking notes or sketching, require a level of finesse a chubby digit simply can’t provide.
Now, it seems despite stalwart resistance to a stylus – the New York Times pointed out that Steve Jobs loved to tell people “If you see a stylus, they blew it” – Apple has itself been developing an iPad pen with an accelerometer.
According to blog Patently Apple, the company lodged a patent application in 2008 for a stylus that can detect movement and be used to select “colors, brush sizes, shading, line width [and] eraser functionality.”
It begs the question, however, as to why Apple would develop a peripheral that for so long it’s insisted is obsolete. To consolidate its push into education, says the NYT, who’ve quoted a ‘person who works at Apple on the iPad and is not allowed to speak publicly about the company’s coming products.’
“It’s one of the barriers for school kids and college students to purchase an iPad where they want the ability to take notes by hand and draw in class.”
While releasing a stylus would represent a change of direction – or at very least a serving of Humble Pie – for Apple, the pen would open the iPad to even more specialized applications than educating students –a tablet for graphic designers, for instance.
However, the iPad stylus wouldn’t be the first device Apple’s patented and not put into production, so Apple fanatics hanging out for an iPen had better not hold their breath.