“If you see a stylus, they blew it,” proclaimed a defiant Steve Jobs once upon a time (not too long ago). The man, the myth, the legend was seeking to explain the brilliance of the iPhone: the fingers that everyone have were enough of a stylus that the PDAs of the past had all gotten it wrong. Some time later, Samsung unveiled the original Galaxy Note with a stylus, and as such the dawn of the phablet craze began. These days, just about every company under the silicon sun has a large screen productivity-purposed device, and it seems Apple may be one of them, should a new report pan out.
For well over a year now there has been chatter about a so-called iPad Pro, in part because of an assumed parallel between the computing hardware and tablet offerings (Macbook Air, Macbook Pro; iPad Air, iPad Pro) and countless rumors, “insiders”, and analysts. One such analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo from KGI Securities, has put a number of puzzle pieces together and determined that not only will Apple release a 12.9 inch iPad in 2015, but that it will also put forth a stylus. Kuo is one of the most prominent Apple analysts and some of his past predictions have been spot on. The report, obtained by Apple Insider, looks at key patents filed by Apple rather than (apparently) any kind of insider-source, as Kuo has been wanton to do in the past.
His belief is that Apple will release the stylus somewhat after the iPad “Pro” as opposed to bundling it in (reducing costs/retail pricing), and that it will be a rather standard affair for the first year, with limited customer interest at only around 2-2.5 million units sold. In later iterations however, he mentions everything from wireless charging to motion sensing, to 3-D handwriting, becoming a possible reality.
Given that several large screen mobile devices already make prominent use of a stylus (see the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, the Galaxy NotePRO 12.2, the Toshiba Encore 2 Write, and even the Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid among others), the idea of an XL iPad adding support for a first party tool would be par for the course. Complaints about the iPhone 6’s lack of true multitasking have been lobbed over at Cupertino for some months now, as they have been about the iPad series itself. While the addition of an officially sanctioned stylus wouldn’t guarantee major changes with the software, at the very least it would suggest that productivity features on native Apple applications and iOS itself would need to be rewritten and adjusted to tailor to the tool.
Should Apple introduce a stylus, it technically wouldn’t be in “defiance” of what Steve Jobs held to be true: the device in question is cited in reference to an iPad not an iPhone. Still, given the size of the iPhone 6, there is no question that a stylus might be useful for a “smaller” form factor as well, considering Samsung has been playing it up for the past four years with the Galaxy Note line. Tim Cook is also decidedly not Steve Jobs, and the launch of an iPhone phablet is in-and-of-itself a bold move that had some very good results.
Still, you just know that somewhere at Samsung HQ the irony of the current situation is not lost.