Touchscreens may have become the norm but styluses still have their uses. While they are primarily used throughout the digital art community, many regular users still prefer them over their fingers due to a stylus' superior accuracy.
However, device compatibility has always been an issue in the stylus market. There's very few styluses that work across all, or even most, devices. An Apple Pencil won't work with a Samsung Galaxy and a Samsung S Pen won't work with an iPhone, for example.
Google and manufacturing company 3M will soon be working together to change that. The two companies have joined the Universal Stylus Initiative (USI), a project dedicated to creating a single stylus framework that can function across all devices.
As The Verge notes, this will be accomplished via two-way communication between a stylus and a given device as opposed to the one-way communication we have now. With a USI-powered stylus, user preferences such as ink color and stroke are stored in the pen itself and are automatically discovered by new devices, allowing for a much broader range of device compatibility than before.
Another improvement the USI's two-way communication tech offers is more consistent stylus performance across the board. Currently, a stylus' functionality can be negatively impacted by the presence of other nearby wireless devices. This phenomenon, simply called "noise" by the USI, is eliminated with two-way communication. If a USI stylus detects noise, it can automatically switch to a less busy frequency while maintaining "seamless" performance.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of two-way communication is the ease of use for mobile device manufacturers. Because the stylus itself sends information like pressure level, eraser actions and more, enabling this functionality on current devices would require minimal effort for a smartphone or tablet creator.