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Samsung’s removal of certain S Pen features might mean Android N will get stylus support

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Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

Android N could debut as a developer version at this year’s Google I/O, so it’s not too early to start speculating about what goodies Google might have in store.

This leak comes courtesy of Samsung’s developer page. The Note series, along with the S Pen, is one of Samsung’s most popular phones, so developers pay attention when the company makes changes to its software.

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It appears that Samsung is eliminating a few S Pen features in Android N. The company’s developer page for the Look API shows “deprecated in N” for AirButton, SmartClip, and WritingBuddy under S Pen.

This begs the question as to why Samsung would do this? The speculation is that Google could be adding stylus support to Android N, or whatever the next version of Android is called.

Google seems to be heading in the direction of having the tablet play a more central role for the power user. Last year saw the debut of the Pixel C, which is very similar to Apple’s iPad Pro and the Microsoft Surface, but which lacks multi-window and stylus support. The development team already confirmed that multi-window is coming soon, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the team is working on stylus support as well.

Since Android doesn’t have native stylus support, companies like Samsung need to add code on their own, which slows down software updates.

Of course if Google does add stylus support, it doesn’t necessarily mean all of Samsung’s features will be added. Two of the three implicated features (AirButton and SmartClip) deal with the hardware button on the S Pen, while WritingBuddy is more software related.

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However, if Google doesn’t add them, it would mean that users of existing Note phones could lose the ability to use the S Pen button for those two features when their devices gets upgraded to Android N. So either Google is adding them or Samsung is making a drastic change to the S Pen.

We will have to wait until more information leaks out or until Google officially announces the next version of Android to get a better idea of what is going on. Till then, we do hope that Google will implement stylus support because it’s something that Android is seriously lacking.