Apple May Be Against The Stylus, But That Hasn’t Stopped It From Working On One

Apple May Be Against The Stylus, But That Hasn’t Stopped It From Working On One

Apple has always been against the stylus and touch-based devices that require one for input. Its iOS operating system was designed specifically for fingers — not pens, and Steve Jobs once said “if you see a stylus, they blew it.” But that hasn’t stopped the Cupertino company from working on one of its own.

A new patent application published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office last week shows Apple’s work on an “Active Stylus,” a revolutionary new multifunctional stylus that’s designed to overcome the common problems with existing solutions.

Patently Apple, which discovered the new patent application, explains Apple’s Active Stylus works differently to conventional styluses. Rather than blocking the electric field lines between the drive and sense electrodes of a capacitive touch sensor panel, it can either “act as a drive electrode to create an electric field between the drive electrode and the sense lines of a mutual capacitive touch sensor panel, or as a sense electrode for sensing capacitively coupled signals from one or more stimulated drive rows and columns of the touch sensor panel or both.”

The stylus could improve stylus sensing on capacitive touch displays without increasing their cost. The diagram above explains how an active stylus could be configured as a drive electrode.

Apple names the iPhone and the iPad in the patent application as example devices that the stylus could be used with. Despite designing iOS for fingers, then, Apple clearly sees a need for a stylus in certain cases. Many apps, such as those designed for sketching and painting, are far greater with a stylus.

Of course, Apple patents are never a guarantee of things to come. While they are indeed proof of the things the Cupertino company is working on, only time will tell whether these ideas actually make their way into a future Apple product.

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  • technochick

    Apple is not and has never been against the stylus. That is a gross misquoting of Jobs comment passed around by bloggers too lazy to bother with verifying the facts.

    Jobs and Apple were against a stylus being required. But they have supported the voluntarily use of one since the first iPhone. And have even sold several different ones in their stores over the years.

    As for patent, Apple did research on using stylus devices and patented their findings same as they have with many other items. Means nothing.

  • Sheald

    “Apple has always been against the stylus and touch-based devices that require one for input.”

    Um, no. Ever heard of a Newton?

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About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a freelance writer based in the UK. He has an interest in all things tech, but most enjoys covering Apple, anything mobile, and gaming. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell, or through his website.

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