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Apple's next big device may be a pen

Apple's next big device may be a pen

A stylus pen? Really, Apple?

(United States Patent and Trademark Office)

Apple has been granted a patent for a "communicating stylus" that would allow users to write on any digital surface. The filing was made public Tuesday. The patent suggests the stylus may use a mobile internet connection to communicate with different devices and may also contain material that would allow users to actually mark up the surface they are writing on.

Stylus pens have actually been around for more than 50 years and were big in the '90s when those clunky personal digital assistants first came on the tech scene. Oddly, it was the touch-screen ability, a la the iPhone, that began to usurp the popularity of stylus-driven devices. And with finger pay-and-sign programs like Square, you have to wonder why we'd backtrack to a pen device anyway.

Of course, Apple wouldn't be the first to use the pen. Samsung smartphones like the Galaxy Note Edge have a stylus.

And, to be fair, this patent only protects the tech company in case it decides to manufacture the pen in the future. It doesn't mean Apple will actually produce it. But, if they do, here's hoping it comes with undisclosed magical powers.