Apple has been working on iPad smart stylus prototypes for years

“Apple has reportedly developed several versions of a stylus for the iPad over the years, a new report suggests,” Ronald Chavez reports for Mashable.

“While we have yet to see an Apple-branded tablet stylus, the company has gone through three to four different stylus prototypes over the last four years, according to a Business Insider report, citing a former Apple engineer,” Chavez reports. “The anonymous source never saw any of the styluses but noted he or she was close to those working on the project. The stylus team was unsure why the project never moved forward, the source noted.”

“The stylus is also reportedly a different take on other models currently on the market, but the report does not detail how,” Chavez reports. “People have shown tremendous interest in using the iPad with a pen input. There’s an existing market for third-party styluses for the iPad, led by the Pencil by Fiftythree and the Adonit Jot line, focused on drawing and taking notes.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, we’ve been covering Apple smart-pen/stylus patents and reports for many years now. With years and years of work on smart styli, it certainly seems like Apple’s getting all of their ducks in order for the 12.9-inch “iPad Pro,” at least, where it might make the most sense – as opposed to a 3.5-inch (or even a 5.5-inch) iPhone:

Who wants a stylus? You have to get ’em and put ’em away and you lose them. Yuck! Nobody wants a stylus, so let’s not use a stylus. – Steve Jobs, January 9, 2007

Apple patent application reveals smart stylus with texture sensing capabilities, 3D image generation, and more – July 30, 2015
Apple advances their future iPen with a continuous handwriting UI and processor system – July 9, 2015
Warning: Apple’s mythical iPad Pro may replace your enterprise PCs – May 14, 2015
Why Apple’s ‘iPad Pro’ will flop or something – May 11, 2015
Hands-on with alleged ‘iPad Pro’ case gives shows comparison to Apple’s iPad Air – May 1, 2015
Apple’s 12.9-inch ‘iPad Pro’ to feature oxide LCD display; mass production in Q315, sources say – March 5, 2015
Is a larger ‘iPad Pro’ an absurd idea? – January 22, 2015
Analyst: Apple likely to launch simple stylus with 12.9-inch iPad Pro; advanced 3D stylus due later – January 18, 2015
Apple granted another smart pen patent for capturing digital copies of notes and drawings – December 30, 2014
Apple files their 10th ‘Smart Pen’ patent of the year – December 6, 2014
iPen: Apple patent applications reveal advanced modular smart-pen – February 2, 2014
iPen? Apple secretly files three dynamic smart-pen patents in Europe – February 28, 2013
Apple patent application reveals advanced ‘active stylus’ for iOS devices – December 31, 2012
Apple patent application reveals more about their optical iPen and graphics program – May 24, 2012
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. Since I was a child, many of us were schooled in the art of finger painting. Many skilled artist can use many tools to paint and the good ones don’t blame their tools.

      1. I suppose one could paint with a tire iron, but should the end result be lacking, would the blame be the tool, the choice of tool, the artist, the critic, the media, the manufacturer? Choices, choices.

  1. Not to use the product I don’t want it! Jobs was right! They wear and fall out of the device and just a pain and easy to loose. For use for artists or hand writing, etc. is another story and would be beneficial.

  2. Mixed ideas here. Steve was talking about using a stylus to navigate on the original iPhone. Quite a different thing than taking notes or drawing on an iPad pro. Even on the iPad pro I can see navigating with your index finger and using the stylus for notes or drawing.

    1. I was a long time Palm PDA user and did quite a lot with it. I learned how to use ‘Graffiti’ handwriting recognition and used it constantly. I did prefer a keyboard for large writing projects, however. When I went iOS, I found punching on the little keyboard on screen wasn’t bad at all. I use it often. But I miss being able to use ‘Graffiti’. I tried one of the handwriting recognition apps for iOS but found it clunky and no where near as good. Nonetheless, I found I am mostly fine with my finger. Where I use a stylus with iOS is for drawing (of course) and certain games that require fast, frequent, precision actions. If I used my finger, I’d have worn it to the nub by now.

      IOW: There are niches where fingers are just fine. But there are very useful niches for styli as well.

      My fave stylus is from because it has a smaller tip, has good wear and accuracy. It also has a nice pen available at the other end whenever I want it for that dreaded paper stuff.

  3. For general use, especially on the original iPhone, Steve was right. However, especially for a tablet, there is a real need for a stylus option for some users and some uses, especially: 1) art/drawing/illustration, etc., and 2) handwriting. I would love to use a tablet with good, fast, handwriting recognition. I am a note-taker and would appreciate a tablet option that works well in lecture, meetings, etc.

  4. Microsoft got there before Apple with a stylus. The surface came with split screen multitasking capabilities and only recently did Apple. Apple said you could not have a toaster/fridge scenario but Microsoft has achieved that very nicely with Windows 10.
    Go ahead Apple and copy away!

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