Android 4.0 to Have Native Stylus Support and Improved Mouse Input

October 25, 2011
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I’ve been checking out videos of drawing apps for iPad, and I’ve started to notice a common request from people who liked drawing or were app developers who wanted to build drawing apps for iOS. They wanted iOS to have native stylus support, so they can better optimize their apps for iPad. Also, with native stylus support, stylus makers can tap more directly into the capabilities of the OS, and make them work more easily with all the drawing apps.

I was hoping Android would do this eventually, but I was surprised to find out that Android 4.0 will get native stylus support, especially since they even failed to mention it at the Android 4.0 event in Hong Kong. This is yet another win for Android over iOS, which comes right after we found out that Photoshop apps will appear first on Android. Together they should help artists focus more on getting Android tablets rather than an iPad.

Here’s what the Android team has to say about this feature:

“Android 4.0 includes full support for stylus input events, including tilt and distance axes, pressure, and related motion event properties. To help applications distinguish motion events from different sources, the platform adds distinct tool types for stylus, finger, mouse, and eraser.

For improved input from multi-button pointing devices, the platform now provides distinct primary, secondary, and tertiary buttons, as well as back and forward buttons. Hover-enter and hover-exit events are also added, for improved navigation and accessibility.

Developers can build on these new input features to add powerful interactions to their apps, such as precise drawing and gesturing, handwriting and shape recognition, improved mouse input, and others”

Besides all the 3rd party drawing apps, you’ll also get better support in HTC’s tablets, Flyer and Jetstream, which both have some limited stylus support (works only in certain apps), and on the upcoming Galaxy Note.

Because of the Android 4.0 tablets, companies might finally be able to move to digitally signed papers. Many companies have started using less and less paper documents, but it’s very hard to do that with documents that need to be signed, or at least it’s not a very smooth process. With Android 4.0 tablets becoming popular, you would be able to sign documents directly on the tablet.

You notice that they also mention improved mouse input. It’s possible that if Android devices like the upcoming Transformer Prime (and also the original one) become very popular, we’ll start seeing mouse manufacturers like Logitech (who are already pretty friendly to Google) offering support for them, and then these devices will get one step closer to becoming a laptop replacement. With each new version of Android, that seems more likely.

Comments

  • AppleFUD

    Stylus support is a BIG deal. . . regardless of one person’s opinion. Add it to a great drawing app and you have a wacom tablet and that’s a big deal for any digital graphic artist not to mention all the other possibilities it opens up.

    As for Google not mentioning it during the press release. I really noticed that, for the first time, Google’s message was about end user usability for the average user. In other words, they really minimized the “geeky” details that most users won’t ever care about and hammered home those key features that impact everyone. I think that’s a wise move–focus on the hot new features that make & show the device/OS as easily & highly usable.

    We’ll be getting the Galaxy Nexus day one when it hits T-Mobile!