Something About the Stylus

Vidit Bhargava

In 2007, while introducing the iPhone, Steve Jobs said this about styluses, “Who wants a Stylus!?”, he then went on to offer us the convenience of using our own fingers to touch the screen. If you’ve seen the launch video, you’ll probably realize that much of what he said still holds true. Styluses are the worst method of primary input on a Multi-Touch Display, they are be terrible at handling swipes, gestures, etc.

So, why now does Apple introduce its very own stylus by the name of Apple Pencil? Weren’t they the ones to tell us that Stylus’ Suck, in the first place? Why this sudden turnaround. Here’s the thing, what Steve Jobs talked about on stage in Macworld 2007 and What was demoed today, are two completely different products with a different purpose.

The Apple Pencil is a Stylus Accessory for the iPad Pro, to help people do certain tasks better. True. styluses are horrible at Swipes and Gestures, but they are the best tools for Sketching and annotating. Add to that the fact that iPad Pro’s display recognizes the amount of Pressure put in, it’s actually a better tool for scribbling on the iPad.

The Apple Pencil is more closer to the Wacom Bamboo than it is to the Styluses that shipped with early 21st Century Resistive Touch Screen Smartphones. Anyone who has used both, would tell you that there’s a world of difference between the two. Not just in quality but in the fundamental purpose of their existence.

Apple didn’t really do a 180 on Styluses. The Stylus they displayed on the Screen on MacWorld 2007 and the Stylus they demoed today, have a completely different purpose of existence (one borne out of a technological limitation, the other to solve a problem of a set of creative prosumers) and devices for both the purposes have existed for a long time now.

Image Credit: SlashGear