Although your digits are handy (pun intended), sometimes you need a little more control when working on a phone or tablet. Whether you’re creating art or diving deep into a spreadsheet, a stylus can be the best way to get the job done. But exactly what does the stylus pen do? How does a stylus work? And what is a stylus used for? Read on to find out.
What is a Stylus Pen?
A stylus is a pen-like device that can manipulate today’s capacitive touch screens (screens that respond to a small electrical current). We can also manipulate those screens with our bare fingers because we conduct electricity. Shocking! Most styluses are made with some amount of conductive metal that can transfer our charge through the tip of the pen. However, there are styluses out there (called active styluses) that create their own charge and allow for more flexibility in design and even finer control.
If you’re clever, you can even make a stylus from simple household objects (although we don’t recommend this, as you could end up scratching your screen with the wrong materials). There are all sorts of styluses out there, but most allow for more precision than a large finger.
How Does a Stylus Work?
You may be wondering, “How does a stylus work?” A stylus works as a replacement for your finger for swiping, drawing, writing, or touching your device’s screen. Modern technology screens on devices such as iPads or other tablets are designed to be pressure- and touch-sensitive. When you touch a stylus on the screen, sensors will detect where it is on the screen and react.
There are two different types of screens that are stylus capable: Resistive Touch Screens and Capacitive Touch Screens.
Resistive touch screens consist of two conductive layers between the surface of the screen. When you press down on the screen with a stylus, the two layers touch, completing the circuit. The device senses where the touch occurred and responds appropriately.
The more modern capacitive touch screen uses variations in an electrical field to register when a stylus makes contact with the screen. When you touch a capacitive touch screen, it registers your touch by altering the electrical properties in that spot.
Now that you are familiar with how a stylus works, let’s move onto five different uses for stylus pens!
5 Different Uses for a Stylus Pen
If that’s what a stylus pen is, then what does the stylus pen do? In addition to offering degrees of accuracy, a stylus pen opens up whole new worlds on your phone or tablet that you might not have been aware of.
1. Go Van Gogh
If you’re not exactly artistically inclined, you might not have thought to delve into the wide variety of brilliant art creation apps that are on both the Android and iOS app stores. Most of these apps work with a finger, but they can really shine when paired with a stylus pen. With just a little practice on how to use a stylus pen, you’ll be dancing and twirling across the screen, spilling ribbons and rivers of color in simulated pastels, watercolors, and oils. If you haven’t given these apps a try, we highly recommend them. Art can be so therapeutic! Who knew the little stylus that’s been bouncing around the bottom of your bag could be a therapy device?
2. Increase Your Typing Speed and Accuracy
Whether you’re a casual texter or you’re doing some serious long-form writing on your phone or tablet, you probably know how frustrating autocorrect can be when you’re working with those little keyboard keys. A stylus can greatly increase your accuracy and speed, especially when used with a swype style keyboard. Say goodbye to those monkeys… we mean mistakes! (Darn autocorrect.) Speed and accuracy are the names of the game when you’re asking what a stylus can be used for.
3. Keep Those Germs Away
We’re all probably more aware of germs now than ever before, and most of us are dreadfully aware of the bacterial hotbeds that our phones have become. Keep your fingers clean and sanitary by using a stylus on that germy mess of a screen. It may take some getting used to, but learning how to use a stylus pen instead of your fingers might save you from a nasty bug or two. At the very least, it will leave your screen much cleaner, free from oily smudges. Keep your screen just a little bit cleaner by regularly sanitizing your stylus pen as well!
4. Take Notes
Studies have shown that hand-writing information leads to better, more accurate retention. In today’s world, isn’t it so much easier to type those class lecture outlines or meeting notes than to write them down in a notebook? Then again, maybe your laptop is why you didn’t do so well on that last biology exam. Luckily, there are apps out there that give you the best of both worlds: the tactile, brain-engaging function of handwritten notes and the convenience of converting those scrawls into easily readable digital documents. A stylus is essential here, as it gives you the tool that will simulate a pen or pencil. Of course, you won’t be able to color-code your notes with a rainbow array of gel pens or make funny little doodles in the margin, but we think you’ll survive.
5. Tap in the Cold
What is a stylus pen used for in snowy weather? Keeping your hands warm, of course. Don’t take those gloves off to return a text, just pull out your stylus and keep your fingers toasty warm! You might have used some of those touchscreen-compatible winter gloves that have the capacitive pad in the fingertips that claim to work just as well as your finger, but they’re so thick and bulky that more often than not you end up tap-tap-tapping the wrong part of the screen! Not only does a stylus provide higher levels of precision, but it's just as easy to hold with gloves and slips neatly into a parka pocket. Now that’s pretty cool.
Stylus in Style
What does the stylus pen do? How does a stylus work? Now you know! Head on over to our shop to take a look at our SaharaBasics Stylus, which is one of those fancy active styluses we mentioned earlier. Since it creates its own electrical charge, it’s even more flexible and precise than a passive stylus. Whether it’s an artwork tool, a note-taking scribe, or a way to stay clean, a stylus might just become your new best friend.