If you’ve been following Apple news for a while, you may remember a quote from Steve Jobs who stated that if a company making a tablet also included a stylus, ‘they blew it’ as we are all born with just the right tools to operate a touch screen, in other words our fingers, and a stylus can be easily lost. Having said all that, it looks as though Apple may now be re-visiting the idea of creating a stylus for use with a rumoured large-sized new iPad.
An iPad Pro?
Insiders with a reputation of being in the know are chattering about the new iPad, which may be called the ‘iPad Pro’. The internal workings of this new iPad are being kept pretty well guarded, although there is talk of adding an extra microphone and two extra speakers to possibly support stereo audio, and the use of an A8X chip, but these details are sketchy. There is also talk of a screen that measures 12.9” diagonally and is capable of split-screen operation.
The insider who is being quoted most often in relation to stylus rumours is KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a reputation for being pretty accurate about these kinds of things. Kuo has analysed recently released Apple patents and has interpreted them as pointing to not only the new iPad, but also the incorporation of a stylus, maybe as an optional extra to improve user experience to begin with, and eventually to enable 3D handwriting.
What could the stylus do?
The ‘iPad Pro’ is likely to be expensive enough due to its large size, so rather than put off potential buyers by including an expensive stylus as a ‘must have’ accessory, Kuo believes that the initial version of the stylus will be plain and simple, a more accurate way of operating an iPad than just using your finger, which can be a bit hit and miss. There won’t be any stand-out features initially, and most people won’t need to use a stylus, so the overall purchase cost of the new iPad could be kept to a reasonable level.
Once people become turned on to the flexibility and accuracy of operation that a stylus can give, then Kuo believes that extra features will be added, step by step, and may include an on board light, accelerometer, motion sensor and even a gyroscope, with the eventual aim of enabling 3D handwriting in the future. For the lay person, this means that the stylus will not just operate on the iPad screen, it could also be used on other suitable surfaces or even in thin air, it all sounds a bit Harry Potter! Apparently these concepts have been in discussion for some time, with patents filed as far back as 2012, but we’re not there with either hardware or software yet.
Wireless charging for the stylus has also been suggested, but while that would be really convenient, for the user, the antenna technology could all prove somewhat difficult and costly, and it’s likely any stylus would be charged via the Lightning connector like everything else.
It’s another one to keep an eye on.