Google Android 4.0 to Add OS-Level Stylus Support
Modern day devices such as touchscreen phones and tablets can often be used with a stylus to accurately navigate through menus and for writing and drawing purposes. When operating a touch screen, people can use a stylus rather than browsing with their finger. This way, it avoids getting the natural oil from one’s hands on the screen. It also improves the precision of the touch input, allowing use of smaller user interface elements.
Some companies nowadays try to distinguish their Android tablets in the market by offering a stylus for writing and drawing. The HTC Flyer, Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, and the upcoming Asus Eee Pad MeMo, for example, all feature a stylus.
The mobile operating system, Android, typically runs best on devices with capacitive touchscreens which react to the electrical impulses in a finger like iOS, Windows Phone 7, and webOS. The icons and other graphic elements are nice and big and designed to be tapped with a finger. When you use a stylus with most Android phones or tablets, nothing will happen because the device just will not recognize the input. But that would change when Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich hits the market. Google has built support for stylus input directly into the operating system.
Android 4.0 includes full support for stylus input events, including tilt and distance axes, pressure, and related motion event properties. To help applications distinguish motion events from different sources, the platform adds distinct tool types for stylus, finger, mouse, and eraser. For improved input from multi-button pointing devices, the platform now provides distinct primary, secondary, and tertiary buttons, as well as back and forward buttons. Hover-enter and hover-exit events are also added, for improved navigation and accessibility. Developers can build on these new input features to add powerful interactions to their apps, such as precise drawing and gesturing, handwriting and shape recognition, improved mouse input, and others.
However, there will only be limited functionality available when using a capacitive stylus on an Android device. Android will still have no built-in handwriting recognition or some of the other stylus-friendly features that were present in PalmOS and Windows Mobile a decade ago. It will, on the other hand, have the ability to recognize pressure-sensitive input from a stylus. This will make it easier for developers to write drawing or writing apps that take advantage of the new feature.