The return of the stylus
Sometimes, visionaries can get it wrong too. That was the first thing that came to my mind after 30 minutes of playing around with the S-Pen on the Samsung Galaxy Note II – I remember telling myself “I would never use the S-Pen” – particularly since I have been using an iPhone for the last few years. But after 30 minutes, as I placed the S-Pen back into its slot on the Note-II, I was thinking “This looks like a cool thing after all.” The other thought that came to my mind: Steve Jobs had written off the stylus – not once, but twice.
The first time was when he introduced the iPhone – when he told the world that the iPhone would be a touch device. I remember that very clearly – he called iOS a “Revolutionary UI” and ridiculed the stylus by saying “who wants a stylus?” – he went on to say, you have to get them to use them, you lose them, put them away – yuck! Nobody wants a stylus” – in fact the points “No stylus” and “Far more accurate” appear on the same slide in his presentation.
The second time was in an AllThingsD interview – where he said, if you think about the interface for a tablet-like device, and you start with a pointing device (like the earlier Microsoft tablets), you’ve already made a mistake.
But Samsung seems to be getting this one right. The S-Pen is a great tool for scrolling, typing, clicking, and writing down notes. Try taking a screenshot, scribbling down some notes, and then email it. Do it on a touch-only device, and then try it on the Galaxy Note II, and you’ll see the difference. After some time, you’ll find it difficult to go back to a touch-only world. Steve Jobs was definitely wrong when he said that the finger was ‘far more accurate’ – definitely wrong.
Yes, touch was a new paradigm that took the technology world by storm. But try the S-Pen once and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It’s capable of doing things that a finger just doesn’t do well.
But to Steve’s point – “Who wants a stylus?” – after 15 days with the Samsung Galaxy Note II – I definitely want one.