Apple invents texture-sensing stylus for future iPads

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Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 14.35.16
This stylus would add new meaning to the word touchscreen.
Photo: USPTO/Apple

Steve Jobs was famously opposed to including a stylus with the iPad, but even he might have changed his mind had he caught a glimpse of the futuristic texture-sensing input device Apple just patented.

According to a pair of patent applications published today, Apple is working on stylus with in-built camera which would allow it to detect the surface over which it is passed and reproduce these textures for the user — even down to replicating the feel of different fabrics.

At WWDC, clues that Apple is adding a stylus to the iPad abound

Apple's WWDC 2015 is revving up in San Francisco.
Apple's WWDC 2015 dropped a couple of big clues about Apple's iPad Pro plans.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

UPDATE: I added a short statement from stylus-maker Adonit below.

SAN FRANCISCO — Tim Ritchey is an expert in iPad styluses — the pressure-sensitive digital pens that draw with pinpoint accuracy on an iPad.

Ritchey works for Adonit, a company that makes a line of Bluetooth styli for the iPad. His job title is “OS architect.” He knows his stuff.

In the middle of a session at this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, he heard something that prompted him to send a panicky note to his colleagues in Slack, the popular messaging system.

“Oh shit!” he said.

Steve Jobs famously pledged that Apple would never ship an iOS device with a stylus, but there’s mounting evidence that the company is working on a new and bigger work-oriented iPad that will come with a stylus.

A couple of big clues dropped this week at WWDC.

Stylus maker Adonit makes the jump to apps with Forge

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Forge is a new digital workspace. Source: Adonit
Forge is a new digital workspace. Photo: Adonit

Adonit already makes some of the best styluses in the world, now it’s unleashing a new app that will help you make the most of them.

The company behind the popular Jot styluses line revealed today that it’s made a new app called Forge that’s not just a great place to sketch out drawings, but also doubles as a digital workspace for visual thinkers.

Apple really could be about to launch its own stylus

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Photo: Martin Hajek
One concept of how an Apple Pen stylus might look. Photo: Martin Hajek

Steve Jobs famously hated styluses — but as of late there’s been more and more to suggest that the forthcoming 12-inch+ iPad Pro could sport an optional, Apple-created pen to help act as an input device.Today, there’s a bit more fuel to the fire in the form of a newly published Apple patent application, describing an “active stylus” concept.

And, you know what, the more I hear, the more I’m convinced this could wipe away the bad memories of the dumb styluses of old.

Even Steve Jobs would approve if the iPad Pro’s stylus looks like this

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Photo: Martin Hajek
Photo: Martin Hajek

Over the weekend, we showed you sexy new renders that showed the rumored new 12-inch MacBook Air and iPad Pro side-by-side. Designed by render artist extraordinaire Martin Hajek, it gave us our best look yet at what Apple’s next big products could look like.

But in the renders we saw, Hajek’s iPad Pro was missing at least one critical ingredient: the plus-size tablet’s rumored stylus accessory. Now Hajek’s back, giving us his notion of what a Jony Ive-designed stylus could look like.