New patent outlines design for a smart stylus Steve Jobs famously hated

A newly published patent application reveals that Apple may be building a smart stylus that Steve Jobs openly mocked.

“Who wants a stylus?” Jobs declared at the unveiling of the iPhone at 2007’s Macworld conference. “You have to get ‘em, put ‘em away, you lose ‘em, yuck. Nobody wants a stylus.”

Yet a recently released patent approval awarded to Apple by the US Patent and Trademark Office would seem to indicate that the California-based tech giant is revisiting the device that Job’s was so opposed to.

First spotted by AppleInsider, the patent outlines a design for a “Communicating stylus”, capable of “writing on any type of surface, such as a piece of paper or a whiteboard and subsequently displaying the written images or text on a display of a digital computing device”. By tracking the user’s movements with accelerometers and wireless transmitters, Apple’s stylus would even be able to replicate three-dimensional shapes drawn in the air on an accompanying iOS device’s screen.


The patent also outlines the stylus’ use for handwriting recognition, transmitting the pen's movement after individual strokes or after having written complete sentences - depending on the user’s preferences. It could even send written material to multiple devices simultaneously, pointing toward use with classroom and business applications.

The latest patent follows similar copyright approvals for smartpen designs, including “a display, touch and synchronising” system.  The last Apple product to feature a stylus was on its Newton PDA of the 1990’s.

If Apple was to launch a new stylus, it wouldn’t be the first time it moved counter to Jobs’ preferences: Jobs opposed the idea of a larger iPhone, while current chief executive Tim Cook has shown a more flexible approach to expanding Apple’s product range.