A multitude of third-party stylus accessories are available for the iPad — many of them are quite good — but Apple has never attempted to introduce an official model for use with the tablet. While their plans are unknown at this time, a newly uncovered patent at least suggests the company has been working on a stylus of their own.
The stylus, referenced in the patent documentation as an “input device having extendable nib” marries familiar capacitive stylus technology with a unique design. As Apple describes it, the nib of the stylus can be retracted or extended from its main body, offering a range of input options. The flexible nib could mimic a paintbrush (much like the Sensu stylus pictured above) in its extended state, offering broad strokes, while the shortened point would offer fine and precise control.
The stylus rose to prominence in the age of early portable smart devices and resistive touch displays. The advent of capacitive technology allowed the finger to take its place as a fully capable substitute. The stylus still has its advantages for some, especially digital artists. Recently the input implement has seen a slight resurgence in relevance and popularity thanks to Samsung’s line of Galaxy Note devices.
While Apple is typically not one to mimic its competition, preferring to remain a trendsetter, releasing a branded stylus with unique capabilities would be welcomes by many iPad users. The question remaining is if Apple will follow Samsung’s lead, offering a device that ships with a stylus and highlights the tools functionality. A more reasonable approach might see the stylus come as an add-on option. Still, with only a patent filing to go off of, there is a chance Apple’s convertible stylus will never see the production line.