It’s quite strange that Apple chose the name iPad for its tablet computer as you can’t actually use it the way one would use a pad of paper, specifically when it comes to drawing or writing with a pen.
The device’s touchscreen is designed to be used with a finger or two. In some instances it’s possible to use a specifically designed stylus to replicate the writing experience, but even that makes it very difficult to sit and take notes, or sketch pictures, using the iPad.
That could all change soon, according to a new patent filed in 2008 by Apple that was discovered Thursday by the blog Patently Apple.
The patent states that a specially designed pen could be use as an additional input on a tablet device. Apple pushes the stylus a few steps further with the use of an accelerometer in the pen that can detect movement. As Patently Apple notes, this technology could be used in a drawing or painting program to select “colors, brush sizes, shading, line width [and] eraser functionality.”
Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s founder, has repeatedly said that a pen on a tablet is a sign of failure. During an iPhone product presentation in 2007, and again in 2010, Mr. Jobs said, “If you see a stylus, they blew it.” But that should be taken with a grain of salt, from the salt shaker used when you heard Mr. Jobs say that the company would never build an e-reader, phone or inexpensive computer, and later released all three products.
So why would Apple add a stylus to an already successful iPad? According to a person who works at Apple on the iPad and is not allowed to speak publicly about the company’s coming products, the reason to add the stylus is to reach a wider number of children in school. “It’s one of the barriers for school kids and college students to purchase an iPad where they want the ability to take notes by hand and draw in class,” the individual said.
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, made this observation last year when he said students needed a pen to be able to interact with a tablet in a school setting. Mr. Gates said the iPad was good for reading, but not necessarily for creating.
Others are thinking about it. What if Apple were to make a stylus for the iPad that also was a recording device like the Livescribe pen?Or better, imagine that your professor talks and it’s all auto-transcribed to your iPad.