“As soon as you have a stylus, you’re dead.” Steve Jobs uttered those words in the mid-00s, referring to the tablet computer ideas that circulated at the time. He spoke from experience, of course, having himself discontinued a stylus-based device, the Apple Newton PDA. He reiterated this at Macworld 2007, when he introduced the world to the iPhone. “Nobody wants a stylus,” he said. Since Jobs prided himself on telling consumers what they wanted, rather than asking them, everyone seemed to follow in stride. Yet times have changed. A stylus can be a perfectly useful tool these days. You might even consider one for your BlackBerry PlayBook or touchscreen BlackBerry smartphone.
One reason Jobs hated the stylus: it was one more thing to tote around. And with that he has a point. Maybe your tablet case has a place where you can store a stylus. But for most of us, it’s something we have to remember every time we leave the house with the tablet. Yet, again, times have changed.
There is no device, nor will there ever be a device, that requires a stylus.
That is, you can operate your device with your fingers if you happen to forget it. In addition, styluses (stylii?) aren’t exactly bulky items. You can store one right in your pocket, just as you would a pen. That is, the idea of carrying around a stylus is not an audacious one. In fact, there’s a stylus on the market that makes life even easier.
MediaDevil has a stylus called the Magicwand. It’s a pretty standard stylus, except that it works with capacitive touchscreen devices. If you grabbed a stylus off an old device — believe it or not, my dad still uses a Palm Pilot — you wouldn’t be able to use it on a touchscreen device.
But the Magicwand has a sensor on the tip that tricks capacitive screens into thinking it’s your finger. Best of all, it’s easy to carry around. The laniard actually attaches to your headphone jack. That’s not helpful if you want to plug in and listen to music, but you probably have another device that can do that. So gone is Jobs’s biggest objection with a stylus. It’s now easy to tote around.
You can get the Magicwand for $9.97. I should amend my above statement, though. A stylus can be a perfectly useful tool — if you have the correct software.
Unfortunately, there appears to be a lack of software that recognizes your handwriting. While that’s not the only use of a stylus, it is definitely the most practical. Apparently Evernote for the PlayBook does allow you to write things, and it will make text you write searchable. So that’s a plus.
But looking around, there don’t appear to be many more handwriting apps. Do you plan to use a stylus with your tablet or touchscreen device? If so, what for? Or would you rather we just forget about them altogether?