Apple patent application reveals advanced ‘active stylus’ for iOS devices

“Our last patent report for 2012 goes to a new patent application that was published by the US Patent office last week regarding an advanced ‘Active Stylus,'” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple.

“Apple’s engineers have been working on ‘reinventing’ the stylus for years now,” Purcher reports. “Even the idea that it was too easy to lose a stylus has been overcome with the advent of Apple’s work with encoded magnets that’s behind the iPad’s Smart Cover product.”

Purcher reports, “Today, the stylus is more like a crayon than a pen. Samsung’s Galaxy Note product with a stylus is a case in point. It just sucks as a pen. Apple’s latest invention introduces the ‘active stylus’ to overcome common stylus problems and names the iPhone and iPad by name as products that may be able to take advantage of the active stylus in the future.”

More info, and Apple’s patent application illustrations and diagrams, in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple patent app details smart, heated ‘iPen’ stylus for iPad and iPhone – July 7, 2011
Apple patent application details new type of stylus for iPad – February 3, 2011


  1. There are several interesting observations in that report. Number one is that the nature of today’s display technology doesn’t allow a pen to actually be a pen even though they call it that. It’s really an electronic crayon and why Steve Jobs didn’t want to go that route. However, this patent specifically addresses that problem so that the display will acknowledg the tip of a pen in a whole way that will actually be more like a true pen. Secondly, Apple could create a backside groove in the iPad and have a magnetic based attachment system so the pen can’t be lost.

    This is the first Apple stylus idea that rings true to me.

  2. Over the years, it seems like that the word “Stylus” seems to make some Apple fans (i have been a user and fan since 1988)
    to totally freak out, probably because non-Apple devices have used them, therefore the stylus must be a work of the devil.

    In my work, a touch device would be great except for one thing; my most frequent use would be for quick note taking.

    A stylus would be perfect for that. At then end of the note talking, convert to text.

    At that point, no more paper notes. I hate them, but they are still needed.

    Please Apple, do it!

    1. You have described a dream I’ve had since the early 1990s — to be able to handwrite client notes onto an ipad like device, and have it translated to searchable text.

      I use penulitmate and a stylus for client notes now, and it’s ROUGH — very much like a crayon. Better than all the sheafs of paper I used to end up with before, but not what I’d like. yet.

  3. One thing I’d dearly live would be a proper stylus that I can write and sketch with. As above, most styli are basically a fat crayon, whereas I want a pen to jot notes with, or do quick sketches with. I can see where SJ was coming from, using a stylus for data input is not practical, but with beautiful aps like Paper, and better and better photomanipulation apps, where a stylus would be perfect for defining masks, and detailed editing, there is now a real need for a proper stylus for iOS devices.

      1. Amazon stylus is okay but not as smooth as I’d like but reasonable quality. The Boxy stylus is more fragile but easier to write with.

        I would kill for a high quality stylus by Apple that magnetically attached and was designed not to get lost. One that worked like a real pen? Please!

        I can type reasonably well on iPhone and iPad but technical and math based writing is impossible to type out anywhere near the speed as written.

  4. What is interesting, is this echoes Apple’s brilliance in the past. For example the iPod wasn’t the first “handheld digital music player” (Archos had one, a horrid little device about half the size (and weight) of a brick -literally- with a barely functioning and horribly confusing hierarchical control scheme)
    Apple was able to see the value in such a device, if one could be made that not only functioned properly but wasn’t painful to operate.
    The value of a device that mimics a pen, pencil or brush is undeniable. However, as is nearly always the case, getting it to function properly and even be a pleasure to use is the difficult part.

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