Up until now, most stylus developers have felt compelled to follow the same basic formula, placing a rubber tip atop a metal tube, then including or omitting Bluetooth electronics that can enhance writing precision. To its great credit, Adonit was the first iOS-focused stylus maker to break that formula, releasing Jot styluses with pivoting clear plastic disc tips that let you see exactly what you were writing. The only problem was that the disc tilted around on a tiny ball tip, and didn’t feel quite as natural as using a real pen; users had to gently touch the screen with the disc at the right angle, lest the tip pop off and render the stylus unusable.
After years of development, Adonit has remedied that issue with Jot Script ($75, aka Jot Script Evernote Edition), its latest Bluetooth stylus. Pitched primarily for use with Evernote’s Penultimate, a note-taking application we’ve used for years, Jot Script also works with apps previously designed for Adonit’s Jot Touch 4 stylus. Streamlined from that predecessor product, Jot Script differs from almost every other stylus in two major ways: first, the tip is incredibly tiny, letting you see what you’re writing, and second, it doesn’t interact at all with iOS devices unless the unit’s power is turned on.
As it turns out, Adonit had to use some cool engineering tricks to enable its new 1.9mm “Pixelpoint” tip to work, given that its slight, pen tip-like physical size wouldn’t normally register as “finger-like” by an iPad’s touch display. Jot Script apparently sends out a light electrical pulse that is recognized by the iPad as a capacitive input, and also uses an integrated accelerometer to detect the stylus’s angle and coordinates.
So long as it’s on, indicated by a small bar-shaped light found close to its center, it will interact with any iOS user interface element just like other styluses. But if the power’s off, it goes completely unrecognized by the screen.
Quite a few other things have changed between Jot Script and Jot Touch. The new 5.6”-long, 0.45” diameter metal stylus is thicker and shorter, ditching the top rubber grip in favor of machined rib lines, and losing the twin app-customizable buttons in favor of a single and frankly hard to find in-line rectangular power button. Script’s added thickness accommodates a switch from Jot Touch’s integrated rechargeable battery to a common AAA cell — one with no promised battery life — a change that may strike some users as a downgrade given that the prior model could last for months on a charge and then recharge with an included USB dock. It’s easy to unscrew Script’s bottom and insert the included AAA cell, but we’re not generally fans of having to swap and dispose of batteries.
As a writing utensil, Jot Script is tantalizingly close to awesome. In real-world use, you’ll note that there’s just a tiny hint of lag between when you write and when the ink hits the screen, hinting at the indirect pen tip and motion measurement magic that’s taking place. We found ourselves wondering at times just how it was all being accomplished between the iPad and Jot Script, but there’s no question that it works, even when there’s a screen protector on the iPad.
Just as was the case with the prior Jot styluses, Jot Script feels like it’s one step closer to being just like using a pen on a (glass) writing surface: we laid a hand on the edge of the screen and just began to write naturally using Penultimate, seeing immediate and impressive results that looked closer to our on-paper handwriting than we’d experienced before — this time appearing quickly under a visible pen tip. Playing with colors, pen tip sizes, and other dimensions of Penultimate was suddenly becoming fun and meaningful again after years of use, while making us wish for even more versatility. Switching over to Zen Brush and seeing even more life-like pen strokes demonstrated just how much potential Jot Script will have in the right developers’ hands.
There were, of course, some issues. Even though Jot Script brings the writing experience closer to writing with a pen on paper in feel, handwriting still isn’t as tight or as precise as with a pen. Additionally, palm rejection — a feature introduced with Jot Touch 4 and preserved for Jot Script— just didn’t feel properly implemented with even the latest version of Penultimate; when it worked, it worked, but far too often we found that a palm was accidentally calling up Control Center, flipping Penultimate pages, or creating unwanted input on the screen.
Another change under the hood is pressure sensitivity. While some sort of pressure sensitivity sensor is still included in Jot Script, Adonit seriously underplays its presence in official marketing materials, which leads us to believe that Script wasn’t designed explicitly for use with painting and art apps like Jot Touch 4.