six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Typed thoughts about styluses

There’s a lot of buzz out there regarding reports that Apple might feature a theoretical stylus on a theoretical 12-inch iPad. And as you might expect, people are wrongly suggesting that this is somehow Apple going back on the famous Steve Jobs line about how with tablets, “if you see a stylus, they blew it.”

Of course the context of that line was entirely different from what’s being rumored, as The Macalope ably explains here. This isn’t about requiring a stylus, but about offering one for specific uses. There’s definitely some demand—people like my friend Serenity Caldwell tend to get really excited when innovative Bluetooth styluses hit the market. Artists have praised the Microsoft Surface for its much more useful inbuilt support for styluses.

I admit that I have a difficult time ginning up enthusiasm for this particular tech unicorn. While I’m sure that artists and other pen-oriented niches would love an iPad that was better at accepting pen input, I’m not sure how large those niches really are.

Then again, as we saw with the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple’s product line has matured enough that the company can offer offshoots that augment the overall line without bearing the burden of appealing to everyone. A large iPad might find a few comfortable niches, including artists (pens in hand) and possibly (but not certainly) power users.

As for me, I’m absolutely the wrong person for this particular rumor. I’ve got terrible handwriting that’s only gotten worse over the years, as I’ve reached the point where I almost never use a pen1. I type 115 words per minute (as measured by TypeRacer) on a physical keyboard. My drawing skills tend toward the stick figure, and haven’t advanced much since fourth grade. (In fact, the only time I’ve ever used a stylus on an iOS device was when I used the Cosmonaut to play Draw Something back in its heyday.)

It’s just not my thing. On top of that, I’m an iPad mini user. I’m headed in the other direction with my iPad—the smaller the better.

So for the sake of people like Serenity, I hope Apple does bring better stylus support to the iPad—whether or not it makes its very own stylus. I like the idea of Apple products being the favorite tool for artists, even though I’m most definitely not one myself.


  1. Ironically, my co-host on Upgrade is also the co-host of a show about pens. Sorry, Myke and Brad. Shine on, you crazy diamond pens. ↩

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