According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, Apple has filed a patent for the Active Stylus, which is basically your ordinary stylus with an electrode fitted at the tip. While not aiming to revolutionize the stylus, Apple plans to improve its accuracy while keeping the price low.
Here is Apple’s summary of the stylus, found in its patent application:
“Unlike conventional styluses, which work passively by blocking electric field lines between the drive and sense electrodes of a capacitive touch sensor panel, the styluses disclosed in the various embodiments of this disclosure can either act as a drive electrode to create an electric field between the drive electrode and the sense lines of a mutual capacitive touch sensor panel, or as a sense electrode for sensing capacitively coupled signals from one or more stimulated drive rows and columns of the touch sensor panel or both.”
The application goes on to outline how these new styluses will be more sensitive than previous incarnations of the technology “without incurring significant additional cost.”
While the patent application did not make any mention of Apple, the website Patently Apple learned that the men filing for it are both engineering managers there. As stated in the patent application, the ones who filed are Jonah Harley and David Simon, and their positions at Apple can be confirmed through their LinkedIn profiles. As it turns out, Apple allows its engineers to be listed as the inventors so that outsiders are not easily tipped off to any new technologies being developed by the company.
It seems that Apple has been working on a stylus for years now, but its work had never surfaced — most likely under the leadership of Steve Jobs, who was known to ridicule the stylus while he was Apple’s CEO. In Jobs’ eyes, a device that came with a stylus was a failure. In an event in 2010, he was even quoted as saying “If you see a stylus, they blew it.” Now that Tim Cook is at the helm, perhaps the company is more likely to come out with its improved stylus.