Apple iPen is a next-generation stylus for your iPad

Packing haptic feedback and a speaker, the Apple iPen not only writes and draws on your iPad but also tells you what's happening.

Meet the iPen, Apple's next-generation stylus. Packing haptic feedback and a speaker, this sophisticated stylus concept not only writes and draws on your iPad and iPhone , but also tells you what's happening.

The stylus has made something of a comeback with the Samsung Galaxy Note and Samsung Galaxy S3, but the iPen takes things to a whole new level. Patently Apple shows off the details of the iPen, in a patent filed by Apple at the end of 2010.

The classic stylus is a dumb pointing device -- basically, a stick that you jab at the buttons on the screen -- but the iPen concept is more sophisticated, working with apps and incorporating different multi-touch gestures instead of just tapping. Sliding the pen on the touchscreen surface in different ways allows you to scroll, zoom in and out and other app-specific tasks. It even recognises gestures made by your finger and the iPen together.

Haptic feedback means the iPen vibrates to tell you when you've performed an action, or lets you feel the brush strokes when you're drawing, perhaps only drawing when you press hard enough. Or it signals when the pen's nib passes over a button or option that you can click.

Even cooler, if you're playing a game with other players, the iPen signals when someone does something in the game -- just like a console controller vibrating if your character takes damage.

When you're drawing, the iPen draws different lines depending on the angle you hold it, so you can create different line thickness in one stroke.

And it's not just drawing: the iPen has an accelerometer so you can perform different tasks without poking a button on the screen. You can twist the iPen between your fingers, for example, to turn the volume up or down.

Would you use a stylus on your iPhone or iPad? Scribble your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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