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Summary:

Although Apple dismissed the idea of a tablet stylus, that doesn’t mean the company isn’t thinking about how one could enhance the iPad experience. A new patent publishing details what Apple may have in mind.

apple stylus patent

Apple’s latest patent isn’t one you’d expect; at least not if you think back to Steve Jobs’ thoughts about tablets with a stylus.

The patent is for an “input device having extendable nib,” which sounds like a fancy stylus to me. In fact, the patent illustration example found by Apple Insider shows a device much like an iPad with just such an accessory, ironic given the now famous quote: “It’s like we said on the iPad, if you see a stylus, they blew it.”

apple styuls patent

Of course, if this patent is used in an actual product, it won’t be a simple stylus. Based on the patent description, the device wouldn’t just have a standard capacitive nib. Instead, the nib can be extended for various line thickness and interaction with multiple touchpoints; one illustration has the stylus tip expanding with multiple strands, much like a paint brush. That could be handy for creativity apps for drawing or painting.

apple stylus brush

Aside from the standard capacitive technology outlined in the patent, Apple envisions other sensors such as an accelerometer and the use of light beams. For what purposes, we can only guess, but you can bet that if such a stylus ever arrives for the iPad, it will be unlike any other on the market today. And I’d expect the product name wouldn’t even have the word “stylus” in it. iPen, perhaps?

  1. 1) Steve said, “Don’t ask what would Steve do”.
    2) Might the stylus be the entire device? Or have functions beyond touching the touchscreen?

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  2. Do you realize what kind of world we would live in if Apple made good on every single patent they file?? Every LCD screen would be a giant array of microscopic cameras!

    However, the idea of an optional “pro” touch accessory makes sense to Apple’s way of thinking. There are multiple methods of input for the Mac, why not for the device that is suppose to be the successor to the personal computer?

    Also… Imagine if Apple decided to release a software update that allows you attach any iPad to a Mac via bluetooth as an input device/trackpad. Then you’d use your Apple stylus across the screen as a live-updating canvas for Aperture and Photoshop. It would decimate Wacom’s market share.

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  3. This would make sense… how about an ‘iPad Pro” with stylus?

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  4. How about Apple just enable mouse input on iOS first, blow the world away with an input method that everyone else seems to figure out is kinda nice to have?

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