Apple gave new life to tablets when it unveiled the original iPad. There were new keyboard accessories and no styluses to allow users to navigate its operating system. Company leaders declared that if users needed to pick up a stylus to navigate any tablet, someone had blown the design. That was a joke aimed directly at large smartphones with styluses and Microsoft’s previous efforts in tablets. With Windows 10, the stylus is enjoying a renaissance.
Apple tried hard to kill the stylus, but they’ve come back in a big way. Apple was right in some respects, no one should ever be forced to use a stylus to navigate an operating system on they tablet. If they are forced to use a pen-like accessory to get anything done, something has gone wrong. Microsoft’s Surface line of tablets inspired a different approach than earlier tries. The Surface and devices made by other Windows hardware partners have styluses, but they’re not for navigating Windows. Windows 10 is friendlier to touch than any of Microsoft’s previous operating systems.
Microsoft hopes that you’ll install apps on your Windows 10 devices that make your stylus worthwhile. Handwriting support allows users to insert text into programs like Microsoft Word. Note-taking, journaling and singing documents are all things that are done better with access to a stylus instead of using your finger as a substitute.
Here are 2 Windows 10 apps available in the Windows Store now that’ll have you turning to your stylus as a secondary input method. Some of them are free downloads. Others come preloaded with the Surface and devices made by Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo and HP.
Some would argue that the best showcase of a stylus for a Windows device is Microsoft’s own OneNote app. They might be right, OneNote comes installed on every Surface and is available for free within the Windows Store. It’s a leaner version of the program OneNote that Microsoft packages with Microsoft Office.
Creating different notebooks and sections allows users to organize their notes, whether they be home-related or at work. Charms allow for check marks and questions. Every OneNote notebook is synced back to Microsoft’s OneDrive service and shared with phones, notebooks and desktops that have OneNote installed as well.
Many people use Drawboard PDF for quickly taking notes and doodling then distributing those notes and doodles in a format that almost everyone can open. Theoretically, it can also be used as a note taking app, though it’s not great at that. It doesn’t offer the search abilities that OneNote does.
Drawboard PDF is for creating and handling digital documents. You can sign PDFs that someone sends to you or capture documents that you have sitting around and turn them into a PDF using your device’s camera.
Drawboard PDF costs $9.99 in the Windows Store. Some apps – like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 – come with the app installed free of charge. Check your list of installed apps to see if its installed for free on your Windows 10 device.
FreshPaint is a Microsoft made app for the artist in us all. The app comes with a few preloaded drawings that users can color on their own with their stylus. More seasoned artists can skip the pre-drawn stuff and creating their own works of art. Different pen tips and paper textures provide some depth.
FreshPaint is available free in the Windows Store, but there are in-app purchases for unlocking new drawings and extras inside the app. These additional packs start at $1.49.
Live Interior 3D Pro
Sometimes using a stylus isn’t about writing. Instead, it’s about having a little more control for positioning things than you would your finger. Live Interior 3D Pro is a fully designed interior design app that lets users plot their design plans and furniture placement with their stylus, mouse or keyboard. Everything from wall color, to paints and furniture color is customizable.
Live Interior 3D Pro is $9.99 from Microsoft’s Windows Store. It doesn’t have any in-app purchases.
For people who really want to draw and digitize their designs there’s Bamboo Paper. Technically, Bamboo Paper and OneNote or similar, but Bamboo Paper offers a more straight forward design. Pen tips can be customized and users can create new digital books for all their ideas and doodles, but that’s about it.
Bamboo Paper is free, but does have in-app purchases for different tools and add-ons. These add-ons start at $.99. They even include different digital paper surfaces.
Good luck with these Windows 10 apps and your stylus equipped Windows 10 2-in-1. Note that many of these apps will work even if your new device doesn’t come with its own stylus. For example, Microsoft’s OneNote app allows Windows 10 users to take notes even if they don’t have a Surface Pen. Any stylus will do.