Google Android 4.0 adds support for stylus input

HTC Flyer with Stylus

Over the past few months we’ve seen a couple of companies try to distinguish their Android tablets from the crowd by offering a stylus for writing and drawing. The HTC Flyer, Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, and upcoming Asus Eee Pad MeMo (if it ever actually comes to market) all feature a stylus. But the manufacturers have also had to bundle some extra software with their tablets — because up until now Android hasn’t really supported a stylus or digital pen.

Like iOS, Windows Phone 7, webOS, and other modern mobile operating systems, Android has really been a finger-friendly operating system. The icons, status bars, and other graphic elements are nice and big and designed to be tapped with a finger or thumb. Android typically runs best on devices with capacitive touchscreens which react to the electrical impulses in a finger.

If you try to use a stylus with most Android phones or tablets, nothing will happen at all, because the device just won’t recognize the input.

But that could change when Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich hits the streets. Google has built support for stylus input directly into the operating system. That means that as long as manufacturers use touchscreens that can recognize a stylus, you’ll be able to use one to perform a variety of actions.

Android still won’t have built-in handwriting recognition or some of the other stylus-friendly features that were present in PalmOS and Windows Mobile a decade ago. But Android will have the ability to recgonize pressure-sensitive input from a stylus which will make it easier for developers to write drawing or writing apps that take advantage of the new feature.

It sounds like you may also be able to navigate through Android menus using a stylus instead of a finger on some devices.

Google appears to be getting serious about support for peripherals in Android. The company also added support for USB peripherals such as a keyboard, mouse, game controller, or USB flash drive earlier this year.

via reddit

  • Anonymous

    Given that Android can have its on-screen keyboard replaced with third party alternatives, i suspect a hard writing alternative will materialize soon after ICS hitting in-store products.

  • Anonymous

    ….and Samsung Note…a pad with phone capability

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if Phatware could port their WinMo Calligrapher – the best handwriting recognition there ever was

  • Anonymous

    Hey Liliputing – do an indepth comparison of these three+ Samsung Note

  • eric42

    Love my HTC Flyer, but I’ve always liked ice cream better than gingerbread.  It seems like most of the things HTC added to the OS is now stock! 

    It’s going to be harder and harder for these companies to differentiate their offerings as Android improves.

    I wish they’d just give up the customization (or at least limit it to exclusive content) so we could actually get OS upgrades in a timely fashion (or at all in some cases).

  • Leach0808

    Get a good quality capacitive screen with an Adonit Jot pen or even better a n-trig digitizer pen and add Vision Objects HWR and you’ve got yourself with ICS a mean productivity ready tablet, one that actually enables you to get some serious work done

  • Anonymous

    “that were present in PalmOS and Windows Mobile a decade ago.”

    That’s what kills me. We should have absolutely flawless recognition by now, but the attempts on android are quite lame.