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Apple shows interest in iOS stylus with optical sensor, haptic feedback

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
Apple has explored building different kids of styluses compatible with the iPhone and iPad, including an optical stylus, and a handheld pointer with haptic feedback.

Apple's interest was detailed in a pair of patent applications published this week and discovered by AppleInsider. The first, entitled Haptic Input Device, shows a pen that could receive input from a touch-based device like an iPhone, while the second, Optical Stylus, would feature a camera pressure sensor for more precise control.

In the haptic stylus filing, Apple notes that with a traditional touchscreen device, users can only feel "the rigid surface of the touch screen," rather than sensing textures, individual icons and other objects represented digitally on the screen. A solution to this could be a stylus with haptic feedback.

"An input device capable of generating haptic feedback may help a user navigate content displayed on the screen, and may further serve to enhance the content of various applications by creating a more appealing and realistic user interface," the filing reads, noting that haptic feedback could be provided with any force, vibration or motion that could be sensed by the user.

Apple has shown considerable interest in haptic feedback with iOS devices in recent patent applications published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. One filing unveiled earlier this week described a system that would allow users to feel textures with their fingertips, while another filing from March presented a concept that would use actuators to provide haptic feedback, and also measure the force with which a user touches an iPhone or iPad screen.

Patent 1


Apple's second patent filing discovered this week for an optical stylus notes that traditional, plastic styluses cannot be used to register input on a capacitive touchscreen like is found on the iPhone or iPad. In addition, styluses offer a point smaller than a finger tip, which can give users more precise control.

Apple's optical stylus would include a sensor, such as a camera, that would determine a location and movement of the stylus relative to the touchscreen. The stylus could be configured to either transmit location and movement to the computing device, or to process and filter the location and movement prior to transmission, rather than sending raw data.

"The relative position of the optical stylus may be determined based on indicia detectable by the optical stylus," the filing reads. "The indicia may further be used in determining the movement of the optical stylus. The indicia may include pixel dependent indicia that are communicated via the pixels displayed by the touch screen or physical or permanent indicia that are physically present on or in the screen.... (that) are imperceptible to the human eye."

Patent 2


Apple's patent filings have previously shown the company's behind-the-scenes takes on styluses for touchscreen devices. One concept discovered last year described concepts such as a "heated stylus" for more precise interaction.

Despite continued stylus-based patent filings from Apple, the prospect of an official Apple stylus for the iPhone or iPad has been largely dismissed because of comments made by the company disparaging stylus-driven user interfaces. Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously said: "If you see a stylus, they blew it."

The haptic stylus filing revealed this week was first filed by Apple with the USPTO in November of 2010, and is credited to inventors Aleksandar Pance and Omar Sze Leung. The optical stylus application was also filed in November of 2010 and includes Leung as an inventor, as well as David I. Simon and David Amm.
post #2 of 43

I thought the next step would be Leap Motion. Apple have already dropped the stylus.

post #3 of 43

Samsung Note suddenly not looking so silly.
 

post #4 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

Samsung Note suddenly not looking so silly.
 


It has sold surprisingly well. That said, this might have a bigger impact on the iPad, perhaps for artists and graphic designers. I'm still not convinced any stylus or tablet will ever completely replace pencil and paper for note taking.

post #5 of 43

Nah, it's one of those 90% of Apple's filings which will never go in to production. 

And Samesungs Note still looks ridiculous. But to each his own. 

post #6 of 43
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A stylus is great for some purposes, but their biggest drawback is that they get lost. I've probably gone through 5 myself. I'd hate for them to have been expensive ones like this.
post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

Samsung Note suddenly not looking so silly.
Sure it does! It's a 5.3" Frankenphone that's too small to be a tablet and too large to be a phone.

What doesn't look silly is having the option for a sensitive stylus as an alternative means of input for certain functions. Steve Jobs never said one should never use a stylus. It's like saying one should never use an ink pen because we have computer keyboards. There are certainly times when styli are the preferred method.

The problem comes when you try to make them the primary method as we saw with resistive touchscreens preceding the iPhone. You can't seriously tell me you disagree with Jobs on there can you?

I hope they bring this to iDevices with Wacom's tech as this patent doesn't look impressive to me.

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post #8 of 43
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Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Sure it does! It's a 5.3" Frankenphone that's too small to be a tablet and too large to be a phone.

Exactly. I laugh every time I hear their ad saying that it's the best of both worlds. More like 'worst of both worlds'.
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post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by KPOM View Post


It has sold surprisingly well. That said, this might have a bigger impact on the iPad, perhaps for artists and graphic designers. I'm still not convinced any stylus or tablet will ever completely replace pencil and paper for note taking.

The Samsung Note is somewhat silly, but it's in the right direction (it's laggy, even in the ads.) The problem with a stylus is that in the earlier PDA era, they were used to drive the entire interface, if you lost the stylus, you were forced to use your finger, which was too wide to peck at the 3mm sized UI controls. In that aspect, yes any device that is driven by a stylus is a failure. Look no further than the Nintendo DS/DSi/3DS to see where a stylus works and does not work correctly. It doesn't work well in any game, but wow it's fun to use the Swap Note program.

 

A stylus only works well for two specific applications:

- Drawing (eg pencil/pen/paint, typically what you'd do with photoshop, illustrator and autocad), where on the desktop you'd use a graphics tablet, nobody can lug around a Cintiq. The Cintiq wasn't even possible until LCD's became large and cheap enough.

- Handwriting, as in signature capture. (Like the Square credit card reader app)

 

Ever since the iPad came out, artists have been demanding a pressure-sensitive stylus to go with it. Wacom probably still has patents on the battery-less stylus (this is why nobody else makes a good graphics tablet.)

post #10 of 43
A stylus is great for some purposes, but their biggest drawback is that they get lost. I've probably gone through 5 myself. I'd hate for them to have been expensive ones like this.
post #11 of 43

The problem with a stylus and the reason it'll have a hard time replacing pen & paper is, the distance from the tip to the actual image.

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post #12 of 43
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Originally Posted by Misa View Post

The Samsung Note is somewhat silly, but it's in the right direction (it's laggy, even in the ads.) The problem with a stylus is that in the earlier PDA era, they were used to drive the entire interface, if you lost the stylus, you were forced to use your finger, which was too wide to peck at the 3mm sized UI controls. In that aspect, yes any device that is driven by a stylus is a failure. Look no further than the Nintendo DS/DSi/3DS to see where a stylus works and does not work correctly. It doesn't work well in any game, but wow it's fun to use the Swap Note program.

 

That's just plain false. It doesn't work well in some games. But in others, it's pretty much mandatory. Take Meteos for example. That's a game the requires direct manipulation, but you'd need a very large screen to use a finger. A stylus is perfectly suitable.

 

Brain Age and similar games are also perfectly suited.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meniac View Post

I thought the next step would be Leap Motion. Apple have already dropped the stylus.

 

Leap Motion is gimmicky. Your arms will get tired from using that all day.

post #13 of 43

Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

A stylus is great for some purposes, but their biggest drawback is that they get lost. I've probably gone through 5 myself. I'd hate for them to have been expensive ones like this.

 

I would say that's your drawback, not the stylus'. Figure out why you keep losing them, and fix the problem.

post #14 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Sure it does! It's a 5.3" Frankenphone that's too small to be a tablet and too large to be a phone.
What doesn't look silly is having the option for a sensitive stylus as an alternative means of input for certain functions. Steve Jobs never said one should never use a stylus. It's like saying one should never use an ink pen because we have computer keyboards. There are certainly times when styli are the preferred method.
The problem comes when you try to make them the primary method as we saw with resistive touchscreens preceding the iPhone. You can't seriously tell me you disagree with Jobs on there can you?
I hope they bring this to iDevices with Wacom's tech as this patent doesn't look impressive to me.

Is using a stylus mandatory with the Note? I didn't think it was, instead being a convenience feature with the OS enhanced to improve stylus use.

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post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

 

Leap Motion is gimmicky. Your arms will get tired from using that all day.

 

It's not clear that you need to hold your hands in the air....

 

It is possible that it could detect the movement of your fingers on a flat surface (table, desk, etc.) and simulate the action of a keyboard,

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post #16 of 43

Man that must sucks that so many bought a Note and found it to be so horrible, or they are simply making statements with zero knowledge also known as ignorant statements?  I do not own one so I can not comment but based on all the positive feedback and the sales numbers it seems like this device has found a market.  The stylus is appealing and one with feedback even more so.
 

post #17 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Sure it does! It's a 5.3" Frankenphone that's too small to be a tablet and too large to be a phone.
What doesn't look silly is having the option for a sensitive stylus as an alternative means of input for certain functions. Steve Jobs never said one should never use a stylus. It's like saying one should never use an ink pen because we have computer keyboards. There are certainly times when styli are the preferred method.
The problem comes when you try to make them the primary method as we saw with resistive touchscreens preceding the iPhone. You can't seriously tell me you disagree with Jobs on there can you?
I hope they bring this to iDevices with Wacom's tech as this patent doesn't look impressive to me.


5 Million in 5 months as of March seems legit.  So being that it is not a cheap Android phone ($249 with contract) it must have some other form of appeal for those 5 million.  I am looking into it.  I travel allot and currently carry my phone and iPad, would be nice not to have too carry two devices.

post #18 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Misa View Post

Ever since the iPad came out, artists have been demanding a pressure-sensitive stylus to go with it. Wacom probably still has patents on the battery-less stylus (this is why nobody else makes a good graphics tablet.)

 

A proper pressure-sensitive stylus would finally make the iPad worth considering for proper work for me, until then I have to stick to the Wacom. I've used another popular iPad stylus and was very disappointed with the experience and the results.

 

I used an Aiptek graphics tablet on my OS9 mac happily and for years. It was cheap (about IR£140, pre-Euro, I've heard of another brand even cheaper but cannot vouch for the results) and large (larger than A4 drawing area) with a pressure-sensitive 2xAA or 2xAAA battery-containing stylus. The only drawback was that the batteries had to be changed every so often. That wasn't the biggest drawback, it was the ONLY drawback and a trivial one at that.

 

It worked just great and gave as fine and sensitive a detail as anything I've got from any Wacom (I've used 3 types) but there were no OSX drivers for it so I had to buy a far more expensive Wacom when I upgraded.

 

The Aiptek worked really well and I think Aiptek could have sold a lot more of them if they'd bothered to make drivers. I'd maybe still be using it today.

post #19 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellacool View Post


5 Million in 5 months as of March seems legit.  So being that it is not a cheap Android phone ($249 with contract) it must have some other form of appeal for those 5 million.  I am looking into it.  I travel allot and currently carry my phone and iPad, would be nice not to have too carry two devices.

Wait for the 8" iPad / pod. With Siri, a good set of head phones with mic (so you won't look like a dork with a giant phone) + some largish pockets you're good to go. There are some half decent pen options for iDevices, which I know you are aware of. 

post #20 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Sure it does! It's a 5.3" Frankenphone that's too small to be a tablet and too large to be a phone.
...

Are you sure he didn't mean this:

 

http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/27/samsung-galaxy-note-10.1/

post #21 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Wait for the 8" iPad / pod. With Siri, a good set of head phones with mic (so you won't look like a dork with a giant phone) + some largish pockets you're good to go. There are some half decent pen options for iDevices, which I know you are aware of. 

What is "Siri", is it the thing on the new iPad?


Edited by DrDoppio - 5/24/12 at 11:33am
post #22 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellacool View Post


5 Million in 5 months as of March seems legit.  So being that it is not a cheap Android phone ($249 with contract) it must have some other form of appeal for those 5 million.  I am looking into it.  I travel allot and currently carry my phone and iPad, would be nice not to have too carry two devices.

It has appeal to people who want to kill two birds with one stone, to think they bought one but got two. They'll soon learn what they got is not the best of both world.

post #23 of 43

The "if you see a stylus" quote is probably one of the most often skewed Steve quotes. In the context of his presentation, he was talking about the primary input method for the brand-new iPhone (2007). He was comparing it to the input methods of past smartphones, with scroll balls, physical keyboards, small screens, etc. So yes, I agree - if you need a stylus to interact with your phone, you've blown it. 

 

That doesn't mean that Steve (or Apple) was adamantly against any kind of stylus ever being used on any product. I see it like styluses on the Mac - most people don't need them. Some people desperately need them. Might as well do it right! If they could get haptic feedback done right, that would be amazing. Imagine sketching or writing and feeling the resistance of paper rather than just smooth glass.

post #24 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

The problem with a stylus and the reason it'll have a hard time replacing pen & paper is, the distance from the tip to the actual image.

Interesting. And no one can integrate stylus to the OS very well, I guess.

post #25 of 43

So once again, let me save you guys the suspense, the sequence of events will be thus....

 

  1. Apple will introduce this as the ipen. Will deem it revolutionary.
  2. The more rabid section of apple fans (who in truth only make up about 5% of the apple product owners) will now deny that they ever said anything negative about the stylus and that if Steve Jobs ever did he was misquoted/ taken out of context/ just a lie, he never said it.
  3. Apple will market said stylus as the most revolutionary thing ever, all in the most amazing iproduct yet.
  4. There will be an ad that will feature a little kid at some point (most likely a little girl)
  5. The history of the world will change and it will read: Apple was the first to have stylus input, and Samsung have copied them with their S-pen.
  6. Apple will sue Samsung for having a stylus shaped like a pen cause like rectangles, no other stylus has been shaped that way till the ipen came along, and they have a patent on the shape of a pen.

 

Its only obvious this will happen, i mean, look at the statements "never made" by rabid apple supporters

"multitasking is stupid on phones"

"4G is overrated, 3G is good enough"

"3.5" is the perfect screen size, any bigger and the phone becomes unusable"

 

Good stuff.......

 

EDIT: and i will just like to say....

SO WHAT if Steve Jobs said SIX YEARS AGO that he didn't like the stylus. Any company that bases their business on opinions from six years ago and NEVER considers changing them will die. Technology changes, markets change, applications change. So good for Apple. At least this proves they are not a stubborn company and are willing to adapt, even if it means going back on a decision they took eons ago as far as technology is concerned. That would have been a bad sign as far as i see it.


Edited by sleepy3 - 5/24/12 at 8:53am
post #26 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



I hope they bring this to iDevices with Wacom's tech as this patent doesn't look impressive to me.

 

I diasgree. I like the idea of haptic feedback. The whole speaker thing to make it sound like a pen though (reported on cnet), that just sounds childish and toylike, they should ditch that.

post #27 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Sure it does! It's a 5.3" Frankenphone that's too small to be a tablet and too large to be a phone.
What doesn't look silly is having the option for a sensitive stylus as an alternative means of input for certain functions. Steve Jobs never said one should never use a stylus. It's like saying one should never use an ink pen because we have computer keyboards. There are certainly times when styli are the preferred method.
The problem comes when you try to make them the primary method as we saw with resistive touchscreens preceding the iPhone. You can't seriously tell me you disagree with Jobs on there can you?
I hope they bring this to iDevices with Wacom's tech as this patent doesn't look impressive to me.

 

I am not sure either way, but the success of the Galaxy Note has taken a lot of people by surprise.  

 

As a long time user of the tool known as the "Steno Pad & Pencil" I've always thought that there is definitely a niche market for a small tablet that can perform the same functions.  The stylus mentioned here seems like a patent just for the sake of patenting to me, and not really a workable design for a stylus for iOS.  But a real working stylus with it's own digitising layer in the screen and full iOS support is something that will undoubtedly happen some day unless Apple can find a way to make your fingers work like a stylus.  Styluses have been around since neolithic days and people will always want to use them.  

post #28 of 43

Different Kids of styluses? lol.gif

post #29 of 43

Graphic designers are not going to use an iOS device with a stylus except as a last resort to make a quick sketch to convey an idea in an impromptu setting when paper and pen are not readily available.

 

The best use of a stylus on a mobile device in my opinion is for signatures on point of sale applications, delivery receipts etc.

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post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Sure it does! It's a 5.3" Frankenphone that's too small to be a tablet and too large to be a phone.
What doesn't look silly is having the option for a sensitive stylus as an alternative means of input for certain functions. Steve Jobs never said one should never use a stylus. It's like saying one should never use an ink pen because we have computer keyboards. There are certainly times when styli are the preferred method.
The problem comes when you try to make them the primary method as we saw with resistive touchscreens preceding the iPhone. You can't seriously tell me you disagree with Jobs on there can you?
I hope they bring this to iDevices with Wacom's tech as this patent doesn't look impressive to me.

It looked optional in the Galaxy Note ads. There are stylus available for iOS devices should the owner want one.
post #31 of 43

Graphic designers are ABSOLUTELY going to use a stylus with iOS device!

 

Have you used the Wacom Cintiq 12WX tablet? Awesome. I love it, but at $999, I rather use my iPad3!

 

Using your finger on a iPad for graphic arts is like going back to kindergarden and finger painting.

 

Let us have the option.  You can use your finger, but I am going to use the pen.

 

Bring it on Apple!

post #32 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

It looked optional in the Galaxy Note ads. There are stylus available for iOS devices should the owner want one.

It is optional. My issue with the 5.3" is not that it's optional or that ot's not the primary input method. My issue is the size and the stylus being included in the device.

That said Samsung has done well with supplying an SDK and using a Wacom digitizer. Those two things make it functional for those that would possibly want/need this feature. Now that it's possible I want Apple to also include the digitizer.

As for iDevices being able to use capacitance styli, sure, but it's neither as precise as the Note or offering any of the features inherent to using the digitizer substrate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

I am not sure either way, but the success of the Galaxy Note has taken a lot of people by surprise.  

As a long time user of the tool known as the "Steno Pad & Pencil" I've always thought that there is definitely a niche market for a small tablet that can perform the same functions.  The stylus mentioned here seems like a patent just for the sake of patenting to me, and not really a workable design for a stylus for iOS.  But a real working stylus with it's own digitising layer in the screen and full iOS support is something that will undoubtedly happen some day unless Apple can find a way to make your fingers work like a stylus.  Styluses have been around since neolithic days and people will always want to use them.  
The success of the 5.3" Note certainly surprises me. My surprise is solely based on size. If you count it as a tablet it would probably be the most popular non-forked Android tablet on the market. If you count it as a phone it's probably one of the most popular Android phone in its pice category.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepy3 View Post

I diasgree. I like the idea of haptic feedback. The whole speaker thing to make it sound like a pen though (reported on cnet), that just sounds childish and toylike, they should ditch that.

I like haptic feedback, too, but that's something I want independent of stylus use. What I don't like I the optical matrix over Wacom's digitizer.

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post #33 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


It looked optional in the Galaxy Note ads. There are stylus available for iOS devices should the owner want one.

It IS optional on the note.

 

He was referring to phones before the iphone which used resistive screens.

 

You can use the note just like any other android phone. The stylus is there for a couple special apps as well as if you just feel like using it. Other than that, you can finger it all day long

post #34 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepy3 View Post

You can use the note just like any other android phone.

 

You can't use the Note with one hand. Though I guess that's becoming more true of many other Android phones.

 

As for a stylus like this, I'd welcome support on the iPad and OS XI. When I'm using the stylus, I want to be able to rest my hands on the screen without anything happening, and I want to then be able to use my hands for everything else (navigation, et. al.).

 

Drawing would be great with that.

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post #35 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

You can't use the Note with one hand. Though I guess that's becoming more true of many other Android phones.

 

As for a stylus like this, I'd welcome support on the iPad and OS XI. When I'm using the stylus, I want to be able to rest my hands on the screen without anything happening, and I want to then be able to use my hands for everything else (navigation, et. al.).

 

Drawing would be great with that.

Yeah, the note is a niche device, its not meant for everyone. Artsy types love having something like that on the go though. for when you don't have your ipad around you can just whip it out. And other people like it cause they just want the biggest screen possible they can cram into their pocket.

 

Other android phones though are easy with one hand. You just adjust your grip. Takes about 20 seconds to get used to. Unless you have REALLY small hands. My hands are average, not michael jordan sized huge ones, and i can hold an htc one x and operate with one hand while driving easily.

 

If your hands are on the smaller side though, like most females i guess, then yeah, its not a one hander.

post #36 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

Kind of a general comment not directly related to the article, but I hope iOS 6 has some major changes and new features. Optical sensor and haptic feedback is a step in the right direction, but iOS really hasn't changed all that much since iOS 2. I am not saying they need to copy Android or Windows, but it does feel a bit stale and dated. I have about 15 screens of apps and folders and it is sometimes very hard to find a particular app or folder especially if you can't remember the name. An OS X finder like view that would allow me to sort by name, date, folder only, or something similar would really help. Anone else hope that iOS 6 will get a major facelift? 

Normally, I use the search screen, but if you don't remember the name, that is a bit tough. One way I solve this issue is to bin similar types of apps in the same folder. It helps cuts down on the number of screen pages too.
post #37 of 43

Lots of third party company have produced stylus options for iOS devices.  Why join them?  Sounds like another "iPod Hi-Fi" debacle.

post #38 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by KPOM View Post


It has sold surprisingly well. That said, this might have a bigger impact on the iPad, perhaps for artists and graphic designers. I'm still not convinced any stylus or tablet will ever completely replace pencil and paper for note taking.

That is because you have not given it a chance.

 

Apple dumped the idea of supporting handwriting recognition years ago. MS did not and has done a fantastic job in Windows 7. I have used the MS handwriting recognition on a Thinkpad X61 tablet to input English and Japanese with great (95%) success...and that was three years ago.

 

If Apple wants to add stylus input with handwriting recognition then the iPad's usability would really open up for students and artists. Apple could sell the stylus as an accessory as not everybody would use them. I said this years ago and so many naysayers disagreed citing Job's hatred of the stylus....and now lookie lookie what has shown up. Of course, I really don't expect any type of handwriting recognition anytime soon...but one can always hope.

post #39 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banalltv View Post

 

A proper pressure-sensitive stylus would finally make the iPad worth considering for proper work for me, until then I have to stick to the Wacom. I've used another popular iPad stylus and was very disappointed with the experience and the results.

 

I used an Aiptek graphics tablet on my OS9 mac happily and for years. It was cheap (about IR£140, pre-Euro, I've heard of another brand even cheaper but cannot vouch for the results) and large (larger than A4 drawing area) with a pressure-sensitive 2xAA or 2xAAA battery-containing stylus. The only drawback was that the batteries had to be changed every so often. That wasn't the biggest drawback, it was the ONLY drawback and a trivial one at that.

 

It worked just great and gave as fine and sensitive a detail as anything I've got from any Wacom (I've used 3 types) but there were no OSX drivers for it so I had to buy a far more expensive Wacom when I upgraded.

 

The Aiptek worked really well and I think Aiptek could have sold a lot more of them if they'd bothered to make drivers. I'd maybe still be using it today.

It is too bad Apple didn't put more support behind the Modbook concept. Axiotron pretty much is over with. It's too bad. I have used a Modbook and having those capabilities in an iPad would be fantastic.

post #40 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by vandil View Post

Lots of third party company have produced stylus options for iOS devices.  Why join them?  Sounds like another "iPod Hi-Fi" debacle.

None of those are a true stylus which can be used for professional work. Apple needs to provide a real stylus and an updated iPad with a touch sensitive Wacom LCD

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