Forget the iPhone, the iPad could use a stylus

Forget the iPhone, the iPad could use a stylus

Summary: For drawing and other fine work, a stylus for the iPad doesn't sound like too bad an idea.


Back in January 2009, I had the opportunity to check out the Pogo Stylus. At the time I couldn't really justify its existence since the iPhone provides a finger-friendly interface, and the stylus would just be an accessory to worry about.

Well, now two things have happened that make me think this whole stylus on an iPhone thing has legs. The first one is the announcement by Ten One Design of a new case, Tango, that not only fits both the iPhone and the Pogo Stylus, but also ships with a Pogo Stylus included. It's actually not a bad case, offering up a leather exterior lined with microsuede, and including storage pockets on the back for holding cards. If you're interested it can be had for $39.95.

The second thing that happened that might create a need for the Pogo Stylus is the introduction of the iPad. When I first got my iPad, I immediately realized that a stylus might actually work well when drawing or performing more fine-tuned tasks. I didn't have a Pogo Stylus then, but I do have one on order now.

I can't help but think that the case above reminds me a bit too much of some of the earlier cases I had for my iPAQ. How many years ago was that? I also have to wonder how many people are using a stylus on their iPhone. I did some quick research and found that even a fellow ZDNet blogger, David Morgenstern, does, and I'll be sure to tell him about this new case. Besides him, though, are people really tapping their iPhones with a stylus?

As I mentioned, I see the value of adding a stylus for the iPad, but we'll see how well the Pogo Stylus works first. Perhaps Ten One Design will be offering up an iPad case soon, too?

Do you use a stylus with your iPhone or iPad? Why or why not?

Topics: Hardware, iPhone, iPad, Mobility, Smartphones

Joel Evans

About Joel Evans

With more than 15 years of mobile, Internet and wireless experience, Joel specializes in taking existing brands and technologies into the mobile and wireless space. Joel is currently the VP of Strategy Integration for Mobiquity, an enterprise-class mobile solutions provider.

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  • It's all about Patents!!!

    Isn't the main driving reason we arn't seeing stylus pens for iPad is that there are dozens of patents that need licensing from Microsoft (and others). It's a patent minefield, and im only guessing here BUT MS has the lions share of patents in this area!
    • RE: Forget the iPhone, the iPad could use a stylus

      @liquidboy You are probably right.
    • No, the problem is with resolution of **CAPACITIVE** touch screen

      @liquidboy: In iPad, Apple does not have resistive touch-screen, which would allow to have accuracy/touch resolution as sharp as needed. Apple's capacitive technology has only like 650 line sensors on X, and 450 line sensors on Y side of the screen of iPad. This makes pretty good resolution, but not enough to allow handwriting, for example.<br><br>Stylus technology for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad does not breach anyone's patents because it still work via capacitive censors, emulating finger electrical qualities. And, as of now, there is no way to use both resistive and capacitive technologies simultaneously.<br><br><br><b>When Apple will be able to match capacitive line-sensors density with resolution of the screen (like having 1024 line sensors ox X * 768 line sensors on Y for iPad), then only the company may start officially supporting styluses. People could start handwriting then; but not now yet.</b>
      • Didn't know that. Good Post

  • Your opinion doesn't count

    Unless you make more money than Apple, you should keep your opinion about what Apple should do to yourself. Apple products are [b]perfect[/b] and suggesting that Apple changes anything at all about them would suggest that you believe you know better than Apple. You don't. Apple products are released in a perfect state and any changes that Apple [b]may[/b] make in future versions (and charge you for them, of course!!!) are only because conditions changed and the new features, while a dumb idea in version 1, are perfect for version 2.

    In other words, the iPad would do [b]worse[/b] with a stylus [b]because[/b] it doesn't come with a stylus. That is all the reasoning you need.
    • RE: Forget the iPhone, the iPad could use a stylus

      Or and far more likely it goes against the whole "mobility" concept. A stylus like an extra battery or an external keyboard are in the end clutter that would require hefting about and keeping track of.

      Now if you truly want a stylus I'm sure one of the many Android vendors or perhaps HP and it's new WebOS will provide said for you. The thing too keep in mind here is if you don't agree with Apple's vision you don't have to purchase nor use an Apple product you have choices and I for one an pleased with that fact. I for one have never found the choices offered to me by the likes of MS or Google to be all that compelling but hey that's just me and you don't see me getting upset at MS nor Google for not making their devices to my liking now do you? I just don't give them my money nor time. Nor do I go and constantly remind people that MS nor Google make anything I find to my liking. I just don't see the point of doing something that silly:P

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • While I don't normally respond to thieves like you...

        @James Quinn <br>We've had a discussion before about the fact that iPhone was <b>better</b> because it did not support bluetooth keyboards. You felt that having bluetooth drivers for external keyboards would hurt the mobility of the iPhone. Likewise, you are saying here that even <b>supporting</b> a stylus makes the iPad less portable.<br><br>Well, feast your eyes on this:<br><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a><br>Uh oh. The iPad has bluetooth drivers that let you use a keyboard with it. <b>THIS MEANS THE IPAD IS NO LONGER PORTABLE!!!!</b><br><br>Well, using your "logic" anyway.<br><br><i>The thing too keep in mind</i><br><br>I'm astounded that someone your age <b>still</b> doesn't understand the difference between "to" and "too". How embarrassing for you.

        PS I call Pagan Jim a thief because he has proudly admitted, on these boards, that he has stolen [b]hundreds[/b] of copies of Windows. Disgusting.
      • RE: Forget the iPhone, the iPad could use a stylus

        @James Quinn
        In general I agree with the "mobility concept" you stated. It's one of the main reasons I don't have an iPad. I find the keyboard on the iPad wholly inadequate based on the projected uses of the device, and the external keyboard antithetical to its mobility.

        On the other hand, a don't see the stylus as an impediment to mobility, and in fact carry one of the Pogos with me when I'm out on photo shoots. It works great with the iPhone.

        While taking a photograph in public of a person isn't a problem, using the photograph commercially is, unless you have a "model release." Carrying around a pad of "model releases" is a pain in the neck. There is a great "model release" app for the iPhone. The only problem with the app is having people sign their names on the form in the iPhone, but put a Pogo stylus in their hand and the problem is solved. I just carry it in my pants pocket. There's no mobility problem with it at all.

  • NonZ Ouch! My feeling!!!!

    I know an iPad with an external keyboard by my standards would not be mobile. Well that is by my standards. Anything else makes a device a cluttered mess as far as I'm concerned. Still this is like version 1 of the iPad and if the iPod, and iPhone's history are to be considered examples of what will happen with the iPad I suspect future versions will add abilities and they were for the most part already planned and are currently being developed. So who knows a stylus may come available either from Apple or a third party vendor? Or maybe not since it does not seem to be a priority on either the iTouch or iPhone so to be frank I don't know nor do I care since even if it became and option I doubt I'd be using it like copy n paste another feature you complained so much about the original iPhone and when it eventually came to an iPhone OS upgrade I got it but have yet to need or use that feature. Go figure.

    And no I still won't be going on any MS related sights or Android not even the HP WebOS sight to point out that their devices and or OS's of choice don't cut it for me because again I say to you my friend it's still silly and always has been silly.

    Pagan jim...Catch me if you can:P
    James Quinn
  • Create your own stylus for free...

    A video demo by MakeZine on how to create a touch-screen stylus from ordinary pen for free -
  • RE: Forget the iPhone, the iPad could use a stylus

    I have the Pogo Sketch stylus (from Amazon) and it arrived a few weeks before my 3G iPad did. I, too, was curious about its functionality for certain iPad apps. Specifically, PaperDesk for iPad and Penultimate - both note taking applications. <br><br>For "quick and dirty" note taking, the Sketch works as advertised. However, and here's the thing with using an optional stylus device, it might be just as quick to use the virtual keyboard for this type of task after one takes into account the time required to remove the stylus (from "someplace") and start using it, whether that stylus is in one's pocket or an iPad optional sleeve or case. Plus, there is a slight "time lag" involved between the actual creation of a written word or symbol using a stylus on the iPad as opposed to using a pen or pencil on a sheet of paper. The iPad is fast .. but its not that fast .. to eliminate this slight processing time lag.<br><br>And because of that slight time lag, some individuals might prefer using the virtual keyboard over a stylus input.<br><br>Still, for quick notes - such as a phone number or address or a small list of "things to do or get", a stylus assisted app makes sense. Although, printed text uses a lot less screen area than hand drawn words.<br><br>Unfortunately, the simply task of keeping an optional stylus near or on the iPad for quick access is just a "pain in the a**". The iPad wasn't designed to store an optional stylus (although it works with one.)<br><br>And, both of those apps listed in this blog comment work just fine when using a finger as a stylus input device. <br><br>Now, it might be an altogether different experience when it involves a sketch or paint program. I'm not an artist but I would think that using a stylus might be better than using a finger for brush stoke input.<br><br>There might be a reason or several why Apple abandoned the stylus input for a tablet device. The cons might just outweigh the pros in this case.
  • RE: Forget the iPhone, the iPad could use a stylus

    @ non-z,
    You are hilarious! What a concept! All Apple products are perfect simply because they are Apple products! If that is the case, why do they offer things like cases etc as options? Surely the very existence of optional extras blows your argument all the way to hell?
    The reality is that as good as Apple products are, it's USERS are different. No product can be perfect unless each and every one of it's users are identical and have identical needs.

    I, for example, am an artist. While I'm more than happy with the multitouch interface for most things, a stylus for use in something like Sketch Pad Pro would be a huge bonus, allowing work I normally do in Photoshop to be done on my lovely little portable iPad. The human digit just isn't a precise enough input device in this case simply because it bends, and has a very blunt point. Also, I would be a much happier camper if the iPad keyboard had arrow keys for a multitude of reasons, but here's a good one. I just went back up to the top of this reply to fix a typo. Now, as this reply is longer than the little input box, and trying to scroll back down only scrolls the whole page, how do I get back down to the bottom to continue writing?
    Obviously i figured it out as i am writing this, but it weren't easy! I defy you to tell me the method i discovered is the perfect solution.

    And PS, you need a hug!
    • I'm parodying Apple apologists like kenosha7777 above

      It was a parody making fun of how they think. And before the zealots descend on me suggesting that Apple zealots don't think like this, here is a perfect example. I wrote:
      [i]In other words, the iPad would do worse with a stylus because it doesn't come with a stylus. That is all the reasoning you need.[/i]

      In other words, I'm parodying the Apple zealot belief that if an Apple product comes a certain way, it is perfect [b]because[/b] it comes that way, a sentiment perfectly illustrated for [b]real[/b] by kenosha7777:
      [i]There might be a reason or several why Apple abandoned the stylus input for a tablet device.[/i]

      Apple abandoned the stylus therefore abandoning the stylus was the perfect move.

      Why do I call them zealots? Religious zealots think in [b]exactly[/b] the same way.
      • RE: Forget the iPhone, the iPad could use a stylus

        @NonZealot "In other words, the iPad would do worse with a stylus because it doesn't come with a stylus. That is all the reasoning you need." Your words, not mine.<br><br>"Apple abandoned the stylus therefore abandoning the stylus was the perfect move." Your conclusion, not mine.<br><br>Besides, Apple didn't abandon the stylus for use with the iPad or their other mobile devices. If Apple did, then they would not have allowed apps that supported this method of input. (Just logical)<br><br>Come on, NonZealot, of the three classes of consumer behavior described by "Fanboy", "Apologist" or "Zealot", I'd have to choose "Fanboy" as the closest that describes my blog comments. As for the other two descriptions, Apple doesn't pay me enough for those roles. What a minute, they don't pay me anything.<br><br>Since joining this ZDNet community (about seven months or so, I've come to appreciate your comments on several issues ... and then there are other times. To quote a recent line from a Doctor Who episode, "Are you all Mister Grumpy Face today" You hurt our poor Pagan Jim's feelings and then you label me as a religious zealot. Ouch!! My feelings, too.

        (edited comment) To be fair, NonZ, I should have stated that Apple abandoned the stylus for its current tablet design as a primary input choice but allowed it as an optional tool. Although I thought my comments implied that distinction, in reality, I was just sloppy. Thanks for keeping me honest.)
      • RE: Forget the iPhone, the iPad could use a stylus

        There might be a reason or several why Apple abandoned the stylus input for a tablet device.

        Apple abandoned the stylus therefore abandoning the stylus was the perfect move.

        As I read the two lines above the first statement claimed that there are possible reasons that Apple choose not to include a stylus and then your claim that that very statement actually meant something totally different from what he actually said. I begin to understand your malady here. You are simply not well.

        Poor, poor NonZ. It must be hard. People just don't see what you see, nor do they hear the voices. You try and try to make them understand but they look at you like you are crazy or something. They just don't get it do they NonZ. You are only trying to help, to warn them but they don't pay you any attention. Sigh.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
  • A stylus has merits...

    I had a HP tablet PC. I liked it and it came with a stylus that 'popped' out of the corner when you needed it. At the time, it was needed to navigate the tablet itself.

    There is something incredibly freeing about using just your finger on the iPad. Nothing to lose, keep track of..etc. Which is nice.

    That said. I miss being able to take handwritten notes. Which I could with my HP tablet. I admit, I'm a doodler. I like to write..the 'pen' of th HP allowed me to do that with a few different software programs.

    On my iPad, there are a couple of apps that allow the same thing, however, I don't write well with my finger...(yes, I'll keep practicing) a smart stylus would be welcomed by me.

    Not that I want to replace my finger for navigation and game play...but everyone once in a while I want to sit in a meeting and write down a couple of notes. Nothing major.