Apple files for patent on advanced ‘Active Stylus’ for iOS devices

By , Jan 3, 2013

steve jobs who wants a stylus

Apple has always strongly opposed the stylus, even though other manufacturers have continued to push for them. Steve Jobs had a number of quotes on the matter, famously saying things like “nobody wants a stylus” and “if you see a stylus, they blew it.”

But despite its public disdain for the touchscreen accessory, Apple obviously sees some value in it. The Cupertino company recently filed a patent for an advanced “active stylus” that works with the capacitive touch screens on its different iOS devices…

active stylus patent

PatentlyApple reports:

“Apple’s invention generally relates to a stylus that can act as a drive and/or a sense element in a capacitive touch system. Unlike conventional styluses which work passively by blocking electric field lines between the drive and sense electrodes of a capacitive touch sensor panel, the styluses disclosed in this patent filing 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.

Accordingly, the styluses disclosed in this patent filing can be referred to as active styluses in comparison to conventional passive styluses. These active styluses can significantly improve stylus sensing on a mutual capacitive touch sensor panel without incurring significant additional cost.According to this patent, that translates to the “active stylus” being able to be used on Apple’s iPhone and iPad which are directly listed as examples.”

Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least bit to see Apple release a stylus. The company has a history of backtracking on its comments — Steve Jobs’ initial thoughts on the 7-inch form factor for tablets come to mind, with the recent release of the iPad mini.

And as a stylus user myself (Adonit Jot Pro), I definitely see the value in the accessory. It comes in handy quite often, particularly when handwriting notes or doodling on my iPad. It adds another level of productivity to the tablet, which I think Apple could market.

Apple’s Engineering Manager Jonah Harley and Hardware Engineering Manager David Simon are credited as the inventors of the “Active Stylus” patent, which was filed in Q2 2011. And it’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes from this in the future.

What do you think, would Apple release a stylus? And if it did, would you buy it?

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  • http://twitter.com/MHCsk MHCsk

    Back in 2007 when displays and “smartphones” weren’t that good, stylus wasn’t a big deal either. But now, when devices and displays are significantly better, a stylus is not bad thing to have. Look at the S-pen for example… it’s awesome.

    • aj

      I guess that this is a little coppying from apple’s side. Many will argue that Samsung didn’t made the stylus, the technology was already there but if we look deeply, apple didn’t make the touch screen..they just revolutionized it. On a different blog I read that Motorola, HTC and many otger companies have patented something simmilar. Just live apple is the king (at this time) in legal lawsuits because the technology was actually theirs’, samsung is gonna be the king in lawsuits because the technology was theirs’. It is said that if you do bad, you get bad (as an outcome) and if you do good the outcome is good. If apple didn’t pick up a fight with samsung, samsung would not even think of suing them but now since the terms are already pretty bad, apple is gonna have a lawsuit against them which may be favoured to samsung

      • http://twitter.com/rud0lf77 Rudolf Lichtner

        “apple didn’t make the touch screen..they just revolutionized it.”

        And Samsung didn’t revolutionize the Stylus just by calling it S-Pen…

      • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

        Watch out!… someone never heard about the Apple newton over here…

        Just a 20 years old device… youtube com/watch?v=BKHelCE9QAg

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    Perhaps this is their way to compete with (or more likely sue) the upcoming Surface Pro; which itself will be coming with a Stylus.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      god i hope surface pro work as intended… but i heave a feeling it will be shit

  • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

    People tend to mislead what Steve Jobs said…

    When Steve Jobs said: “who wants a stylus?” he was refering to the need of a stylus to operate the smartphone… A stylus should be an accessory and nothing mandatory! That was the point! (like the old windows mobile).

    And there’s already a lot of stylus for iDevices, specially for the iPad. Apple probably will make something more professional for designers with powerful precision. But only for drawing. For the rest, fingers as always.

    • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

      “But only for drawing. For the rest, fingers as always”

      You mean to say you can actually take notes as accurately as a pen (like in a notebook) with your finger? Or you think that’s not one of the uses of a tablet?

      • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

        I think I made it clear the usage of the stylus as an accessory and not something mandatory for the operative system…

  • http://twitter.com/myorangeisstuck wahaha

    I love how Steve Jons introduced the iPhone and he says “who wants a stylus”

    • http://twitter.com/nAcolz Acolz

      Do you realize this is not a stylus for full-time use or a mandatory thing? Only an accessory.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheRealSamuelHasan Samuel Hasan

    Wow! Apple is so smart. First doesn’t want a stylus. Samsung made the GALAXY Note and Note II and the GALAXY Note 10.1. Apple sees how much money Samsung mades. Now wants to make a patent for their stylus. You are kidding me?

    • Ignacio Irigoyen

      Sorry but are not Amazon (With Kindle Fire) and Google (With nexus 7) making more money than Samsung without stylus? (In the tablet market)

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      smasung sucks

      • http://www.facebook.com/mattpet Matt Dowdy

        Looks like you could do with a stylus for your typing there dude

  • st1n3

    apple seems to be losing first ipad mini now a stylus?….

    • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

      No. Apple are following what clients ask them. They never wanted a 7 inch tablet, but since there’s a lot of people who were asking for a “mini iPad” they worked on that. One thing I remember Steve Jobs saying: “we follow what we think it’s right, but if our costumers gives us the opposite feedback and if makes sense, we will follow what they want, because what we want is make (insanely) great products and make our costumers happy” … (not in this words, but something close)

      • max

        This just blows my mind!!!
        Samsung brought the note with the stylus and this very blog said some pretty nasty things about the note. Apple decides to introduce one and all of a sudden its golden.
        Android/Samsung devices have big 4.8” screens and we all think it’s too big but, if and when apple comes out eventually with the same 4.8” screen size, all the isheep’s and apple will find some way to justify it. My point is lets not be quick to trash the competition if they come out with something before apple.
        Come on all ye isheep’s… please get your heads out of apple’s ass. I know I’m going to get some down votes but, it’s about time we called a spade a spade.

      • http://www.facebook.com/luisreyespr Luis

        I’m “confused” what makes you (or people) think Apple will come with a traditional stylus (or a stylus for that matter)? Apple have patented numerous of ideas that have never been made into a product. Even after that, where is the hint to guess that a stylus would be used to a tablet or a phone and not for a new product? ‘Haters gonna hate’. Me being a fan of innovation bet for an Apple that if ever launch a stylus, will definitively bring something new to the market. And as stated @Int3nsive:disqus I’d guess would be intended as an accessory for such OS.

      • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

        People bash android not because of the size or stylus, but because of the ridiculous lack of user friendly interfaces and upscaled apps, made for some kind of resolution that don’t feet well in bigger screens or other resolutions.

        You should open your mind more often and find the real answer for all your doubts. Because you call other people “isheeps” but you behave exacly like one from the “other side”.

      • max

        All i’m hearing are excuses and excuses and excuses!!!
        Easy man…I own almost every single product apple has so, don’t say things u don’t know.
        Owning almost every apple product hasn’t clouded my judgement, I would be stupid to take sides.
        You should open your mind more often and take your head out of the fruit juice’s ass and appreciate what the competition is offering.
        Believe it or not the better the competition gets the better it is for us, apple consumers because; the fruit juice seems to be getting bitter.

      • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

        All fandroids get all kind of excuses too.. so what’s your point?

        Android has malware? “it’s people fault… not android or GooglePlay”.

        This app sucks, on iOS is better. “It’s developers fault, not Android, because they should test all 10.000 android devices”.

        My device runs so slow and crash very ofter “because you’re a bad user”.

        I can’t get the latest Android 4.03 “it’s because your brand new device sucks, you should get a high end android device”.

        My dual-core device is slow “that’s because your device sucks, you should get a quad-core to get android run fast and smooth..it’s not android fault”.

        You S3 got the latest Android 4 and mine don’t “its because your carrier sucks..”

        But but.. Android has a large marketshare!! .. yes, off couse, because on that argument, all shitty low end and mid end Android users can count. But when something goes wrong, we can’t count them…

        I hope you got the point…

      • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

        ipad > note 2 and all android tabs

      • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

        women wanted an ipad for their purses…

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      lol apple. loosing??? loloolol all they are doing is stagnating cause they have no real competition at all

  • ridonkulous

    What Apple/Steve failed to realize is, there are lots of people out there with sausage fingers that need a stylus so they aren’t hitting four letters at the same time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      and they can huge money buy offering replacement styluses for all the lost ones..

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    I already lost my stylus and it not even out yet..lol

  • http://twitter.com/Nicki_Danny Danny

    APPLE IS GOING WAY DOWN AFTER STEVE’S DEATH.

  • Falk M.

    I guess the major reason why I still don’t have an iPad is because I can’t be bothered to deal with handwriting on the iPad as it is right now.

    I can’t hover my hand all the time for writing something.

    That’s pretty much the reason why I’m seriously looking into buying a Galaxy Note tablet, because what matters most to me right now is taking notes digitally and removing all paper in my uni work.

    I’d LOVE the iPad, the integration into my eco system, etc etc…
    But this major drawback and the curiosity about Android makes me really want to invest into the Note tablet.

  • derpCakes

    I would buy the $hit out of a stylus for an iPad. Literally the only reason I didn’t get an iPad (and bought the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1) is because of the stylus. I need it for taking notes in classes like CS, chemistry, bio, etc., and for doing hella math problems. I can’t do that with my finger, that is stupid. Related to that is the superior palm rejection on the Note 10.1, which is actually getting better with every new software update.

    And so I suffer now from all the problems that are solved on the iPad:
    - battery power
    - stupid apps that are wonky/don’t act right/look right

    - slow processor, apps are slow (related to the last point)
    - app ecosystem is neither as diverse nor resilient
    - camera sucks (esp for taking pictures during lecture)
    - lack of support on university network for Android devices (as opposed to full support for OS X/iOS), hard to do work when mobile

    - bluetooth connectivity is crap

    Everytime I see that snarky video of Jobs trashing the stylus, I literally punch a baby in the face because I’m so angry.