FiftyThree’s Paper now comes with a free set of digital drawing tools

What does FiftyThree know about a possible iPad Pro stylus? On Thursday, the company updated popular iOS drawing app Paper, making all of its tools available to anyone who downloads the free iPad app. Previously, several Paper tools, including the watercolor and sketching brushes, were $0.99 in-app purchases.

FiftyThree doesn’t consider this move to be a repudiation of its in-app purchase model, and said it could introduce new premium brushes in the future. The company told The Verge and others that “the in-app purchase model has worked really well.” The company seems to be making most of its revenue from its $50 Pencil stylus, which is currently Amazon’s best-selling stylus. Previously, a purchased Pencil unlocked all of Paper app’s tools, but the idea now is that the free app — complete with a full set of digital brushes — is the hook, and once people start using the app, it logically leads to a stylus purchase.

One potential reason that FiftyThree set its tools free is that Paper introduced a social aspect to its app called Mix last year. Another possibility is that removing the in-app purchases could help Paper break into the education market.

But another major reason why FiftyThree might want more users now at the expense of potential in-app revenue is because of the looming possibility of an Apple-made stylus. Although Paper appears to be a wildly successful iPad app, with 14 million total downloads, an Apple stylus would clearly be a huge issue for FiftyThree’s business model. For now, FiftyThree and Apple look like they’re on great terms — Pencil styluses are sold in Apple stores, and in 2012, Apple named Paper as its iPad app of the year. But that could all change come Apple’s next product announcement, and FiftyThree’s best defense is a big existing user base.

Any pen or pencil is a stylus to this Lenovo tablet

Lenovo’s Yoga 2 tablet may have been announced back in October, but the kickstand-equipped tablet is showing off a new trick this week at CES in Las Vegas: It doesn’t need a stylus because any conductive material — like the point of a pencil — can be used to to interact with its touchscreen.

Lenovo calls this feature “AnyPen,” and it’s only available on a special-edition Lenovo Yoga 2 running Windows for now, and only on the 8-inch model. It’s hard to determine what technology enables this feature, but any conductor, even objects like scissors or a screwdriver, can be used as a pointing device. If non-stylus pen support ends up being a largely Lenovo-exclusive feature, I can see it being a major reason to pick up one of the company’s tablets.

Even if you’re not interested in using your junky old pens as a stylus, the special-edition Lenovo Yoga 2 may be a good value. It’s an unusually shaped tablet, with Lenovo’s chunky wedge kickstand hiding a 64oo mAh battery. It’s got a 1920 x 1200 screen that’s powered by a quad-core Intel Atom processor. The special edition will cost $299 when it goes on sale later this month — or $20 more than Yoga 2 tablets without the AnyPen technology.


Most tablet styluses are capacitive pens, which simply mimic your finger. Others, like the pen that comes with the Windows-running Surface Pro 3, have buttons and require your tablet to have a built-in active digitizer. One thing all stylus-equipped touch devices have in common is indecision on how to incorporate the pen into what should be a thin and light device. Microsoft has an external loop accessory for its Surface pen (although it’s sold separately). Samsung’s Galaxy Note Tab line of Android tablets has a built-in stylus slot, but the holster increases the volume of the device.

Sure, most tablet styli are only used to circle things, but there’s a still a large contingent that appreciates clicking with a writing implement — especially for the desktop version of Windows that might have small points that users need to click on.


How to go completely paperless with iOS

It still takes a little effort to go completely paperless; with names like iPad and tablet, the devices we use still pay homage to a paper-based world. But there are some apps for those who wish to banish paper.

Apple just might build a stylus for iPads after all

Although Apple dismissed the idea of a tablet stylus, that doesn’t mean the company isn’t thinking about how one could enhance the iPad experience. A new patent publishing details what Apple may have in mind.

If stylus = fail, Samsung’s Galaxy Note has 5M failures

Apparently a 5.3-inch smartphone isn’t too big, and having stylus to go with it doesn’t mean it’s a failure: Samsung announced 5 million sales of its Galaxy Note Wednesday. Even with the included stylus, the oversized phone — or undersized tablet — is the right size for success.

Samsung Galaxy Note stylus about to get more useful

Along with a promised upgrade to Android 4.0, Samsung is adding more functionality to the S Pen stylus used with the Galaxy Note. The 5.3-inch handset will gain more stylus-supported apps along with new software and better recognition of handwritten text from the S Pen.

Macworld | iWorld 2012 highlights for general Apple users

We’ve already talked about some key highlights from the Macworld | iWorld 2012 show, particularly from the prosumer and developer angles. But my focus here is on those products average Apple users might be interested in, for both Mac and iOS devices.

Cosmonaut stylus review: A tip-to-toe iPad writing companion

The Cosmonaut is a new iPad stylus from Studio Neat which started life on Kickstarter. After a few months of manufacturing and testing, the Cosmonaut started shipping in early December to Kickstarter backers, and is now available to purchase for $25. But is it any good?