“If you see a stylus, they blew it.” Steve Jobs famously said that when he introduced the iPhone and its finger-driven interface. With all due respect, there are plenty of instances in which a stylus is darn useful — especially on an iPad, where one is much better for note-taking and drawing than a finger ever will be. Which is why there’s a booming market for third-party styluses designed for use with Apple’s tablet.
A company called Adonit has been making some of the best ones, but like all such implements, its Jot products have had to deal with the fact that Apple’s hardware and software were designed for fingertips. Rather than equipping its styluses with soft, stubby, fundamentally unsatisfying points — which is the way every other manufacturer does it — it’s given them a sharp, ballpoint-like tip with a little clear disk on the end. It works surprisingly well, but you never forget that it’s a technical workaround.
But today, at the Evernote Conference in San Francisco, Evernote and Adonit unveiled the closest thing I’ve seen to a no-compromise stylus for the iPad (and other iOS devices) It’s a $75 battery-powered model called the Jot Script Evernote Edition, shipping in October.
And while I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, I did chat with Adonit’s David Sperry and Kris Perpich. They appear to have built something that seemed impossible: a digital pen for the iPad that looks and feels like a pen, with a tip you might mistake for one on a mundane ink-on-paper writing instrument. Unlike many styluses, it’s long enough for a comfy grip, and is beautifully weighted.
The Jot Script uses an accelerometer to help it interpret your strokes, and Bluetooth LE to communicate with the tablet. If an application builds in support for the stylus — as numerous programs have done for previous Adonit products — it’ll permit the most precision. But Jot Script will work with any app.
This Evernote-branded stylus was designed with Evernote’s Penultimate note-taking app in mind. It isn’t pressure-sensitive, which is a downside if you’re drawing with natural-media tools in art program such as SketchBook Pro or Procreate. I can’t wait to try doodling with it anyhow. Sperry and Perpich told me they’re working on adding pressure-sensitivity to future models; they’re also collaborating with Adobe on Mighty, a stylus due in 2014 that aims to be the ultimate digital art instrument for tablets.
If this technology lives up to its promise, it could be the most important thing to happen to writing and drawing on an iPad since…the iPad.