August 6, 2012

On Samsung And Her Stylus

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

There´s been a small bit of confusion over the weekend about what Samsung would be releasing during their “Samsung Mobile Unpacked” event in Berlin, August 29th. In the beginning, a spokesperson for the Korean company stated boldly, ”We plan to unveil the next Galaxy Note at the Samsung Mobile Unpacked event“¦”

A few hours later, another spokesperson told a different story:

“We can confirm the unpacked event will take place on August 29th, but we cannot disclose information on what will be unveiled.”

It seems as if the team at Samsung gathered everyone together to discuss this madness over the weekend and started off the week with a strong unified voice, saying they will be announcing a Galaxy Note 10.1 later this month.

Though the Note 10.1 shares some similarities with its predecessor the Tab 10.1, it also harkens back to its conceptual, smaller design in one way; Namely, that damned stylus.

Just as Apple simply can´t refuse putting a lowercase “I” in front of their products, it seems Samsung has taken to labeling each of their features and products an “S” something: Galaxy S III, S Voice, S Beam, and more specifically to this article, the S Pen stylus.

This S Pen stylus even plays a pretty huge role in this new Note 10.1, acting as a sort of power button for the device. Simply remove your stylus from your Note 10.1 tablet and the thing is ready to receive any input you may want to poke into it. This is a very cool feature, but it also communicates one point in a very strong way: Before you use this device, you must wield your stylus.

The iPad, of course, boasts a similar feature with their Smart Cover. Simply lift the flap of the cover and the device is ready for you. Whereas the Note 10.1 says “You really should be using a stylus“¦” the iPad says, “Hey, I´m open for whatever“¦”

To be fair, I´m sure this isn´t the only way the Note can be powered on, but it´s an interesting point to note.

These days, it´s hard for the humble, antiquated stylus to be discussed without Steve Jobs coming back into the fray. He did, after all, fire off some harsh missives about the faux-pen back in the early days of the iPad, saying alternatively “Who wants a stylus?” and “If you see a stylus or task manager, they blew it.”

Of course, not everything Steve Jobs ever did or said was correct, as is evidenced by the growing third-party stylus market for smartphones and tablets, including the iPad and iPhone. Steve would be so proud.

It´s extremely doubtful, of course, that Apple will be releasing their own stylus to meet any sort of demand.

Samsung´s S Pen is no ordinary Stylus, however. By using the built in buttons on the stylus, you can change the functions you want to complete, as well as draw on and modify documents and photos you receive on the Galaxy Note. It´s a stylus with some extra oomph, as it were.

Isn´t it just a little odd, however, that for all our technological advances, it seems some of us are retreating back to the days of the Palm Treo, furiously tap tap tapping at our handhelds as we navigate through the UI.

After all, much of the interfaces being built today are plumped up so we can use them with our fingers. While there are some niche cases– artists, designers and *ahem* those who may be getting on in their years– the stylus isn´t just one more thing to lose, it´s one more degree of separation between the user and the content.

As we´ve been hearing all sorts of news from the trial in California between Apple and Samsung, the notion of who copied whom (or who didn´t copy whom, depending on which side of the aisle you claim) has been at the forefront of our attention in recent days.

For all the similarities which exist between Samsung products and Apple products, the Note maker´s insistence on the slender pen analog is one way in which they are certain to differentiate themselves.