Ever since the first iPad came out in 2010, professionals and amateurs alike have been using the touchscreen tablet as a portable digital sketchbook with mixed results. While some professional designers who were already well-versed with creating eye-popping sketches have been able to use the tablet with relative ease, the unpredictable nature of line weights and lack of screen size has also made sketching on an iPad cumbersome for many.
Additionally, stylus manufacturers have lined up in droves over the past few years to offer their take on the best iPad sketching experience with features ranging from intelligent surface pressure and palm rejection to fine-tip points and even dual ink and stylus pen combos.
Yesterday, Apple Insiders reported that Apple is very likely developing their own stylus design for their rumored 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which is expected to be better-suited for content creation similar to Microsoft’s Surface Pro rather than the existing “content viewing” iPad models that have been released since the first generation iPad was announced.
The reports come from well-regarded analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a proven and reliable track record of upcoming Apple product releases including the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch.
“Given that it’s more precise than a person’s fingers, a stylus can be more convenient to use than the combination of keyboard and mouse in some cases,” Kuo wrote. “Therefore, we believe Apple’s stylus will improve the user experience of 12.9-inch iPad.”
As for the design of the stylus itself, Kuo thinks that Apple will play it safe and offer it as a minimal, stripped down offering that would be sold as an additional Lighting-connected accessory rather than a bundled feature of the yet-to-be-announced iPad Pro.
“Coupled with its unfavorable cost structure, high selling prices may turn consumers off if the 12.9-inch iPad is always bundled with it,” he adds. “We therefore expect the stylus to be an optional accessory before sufficient user feedback is received.”
The stylus, coupled with the iPad Pro, would of course bring a lot more options to the App Store…particularly in the professional software space. Kuo believes that whatever happens here will ultimately shape the future of the stylus and if it would be further developed to include more bells and whistles including a gyroscope, accelerometer and other sensors.
Pencil by FiftyThree is among one of the best-selling existing iPad styluses
“The addition of a gyroscope accelerometer to a stylus allows users to write not only on the display, but also on other hard surfaces and even in the air,” he said. “While this is a fantastic application for a stylus, we think the required software and hardware is not fully developed yet. Hence, we don’t expect Apple’s stylus to support 3D handwriting in 2015.”
Of course, with this being an Apple rumor, nobody knows what to expect at this time. With that being said, Wacom’s Cintiq Companion has been seeing favorable reviews while its cost has been a large hurdle for many new adopters. If Apple is able to keep the iPad Pro within a reasonable price point while offering more power and a stylus option, Wacom might have a serious Cintiq competitor on their hands.
(iPad sketches via Sketch a Day)