Not My Type

The main thing that pisses me off about the iPad is typing on the keyboard. Being a full-size QWERTY keyboard should make it easy to use for the touch-typist, but there are some important differences between the ipad’s keyboard and a proper keyboard that get RIGHT in the way.

The quock briqn foz jmps pver the lazy dig.

It’s not a proper keyboard
While the main letter and number keys are in their usual positions, many punctuation keys are not, and the method for switching between writing letters and numbers is a pain. I can’t type a colon by typing SHIFT-semicolon key. Instead I have to press a special key to the left of the spacebar to bring up the number keyboard, followed by a special colon key (in the same position as D on the letter keyboard). Great, so I have to learn a completely new method. Kinda defeats the object of having a ‘full’ keyboard in the first place.

If you’re a touch-typist like me your two best friends are those little bumps on the F and J keys. By feeling for them you naturally rest your index fingers on them and hence know that your fingers are in the correct position for all the other letters. On the iPad you don’t get that, because being a virtual keyboard on a glass screen you can’t feel them (Apple have seen fit to draw them on the keys anyway. Nice touch — thanks Apple). I find my index fingers searching for those little bumps out of habit, and consequently everything I type takes twice as long while I keep going back to remove all the superfluous letters I’ve typed by accident while fumbling. My fingers having lost their usual point of reference, my right hand tends to drift to the left (middle of the keyboard). When that happens, full stops (periods in American) become commas, J’s become H’s and backspaces become P’s. Another reason why typing on the iPad is as much about deleting unwanted characters as typing wanted ones.

Up until I got an iPad I had my brain trained for two ‘types’ of typing: full keyboard touch-typing and phone text typing using two thumbs. Neither is really practical on the ipad’s keyboard so I have come up with a third type, which I shall call iPad typing (reckless and unpredictable I know, but that’s how I roll). This new type is a bastardization of touch-typing in which you look at the keys as you type, rather than what is appearing on the screen. This way I can go faster and make fewer mistakes, while still using the ‘correct’ finger for each key. Until I have to punctuate that is. Some of you may be thinking that that is proper touch-typing, but if that’s how you do it you ain’t a proper touch-typist. Real typists don’t need to look at the keys. In fact I have a neat little party trick to demonstrate this. Some time ago I acquired a ‘blank’ USB keyboard. Yes that’s right, a full PC keyboard with no markings on it at all. I used to impress people (well, that was the intention. I may have done a better job of annoying them) by typing full sentences with my eyes closed. A neat enough trick on a normal keyboard, but, while no harder on a blank keyboard it is strangely more impressive (well, it is to me).

I need to get out more.

Don’t get me wrong, I know the iPad isn’t intended to replace the laptop as your main typing/writing machine. I love my iPad and would never be separated from it. In fact my moaning about the keyboard is born of my desire to use it more and more. I want to spend my day writing on it, which is why I get miffed when it doesn’t quite meet my sky-high expectations.

When you get yours you’ll understand. Until then, be jealous.


About Chris Neal

Personal Technology Consultant. Tailored services and advice for people who want more from their technology.
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