Writing On The iPad

After reading Jason Snell’s article on Macworld, Why I’m writing on the iPad, I was tempted to turn off the MacBook Air for a couple of days and try using my iPad for writing to see if it made a difference to me too.

By coincidence at the same time as Jason was writing a few words on writing others were typing some words on typing, or at least keyboards under iOS. Everybody seems to have an opinion, everyone offers a solution.

It is the one flaw for writing on the iPad. The missing quote characters, extra punctuation, even the missing cursor movement keys. They all add up to a small amount of almost constant friction.

Almost everybody (well, not John Gruber) seems to think that an extra row of keys is the solution. Many editors implement it. Textastic even overloads each key with five characters so that everything seems to be available in that top row. Textastic lacks cursor keys though, for cursor movement it uses a pop up keypad.

My favourite solution is that of Nebulous. They have a fully customisable extra row of keys that includes, if you want, the ability to add entire macros for such things as the time and date. Personally I use TextExpander Touch for these and other shortcuts but I really appreciate the ability to change the top row keys, I have mine customised for easy MarkDown entry.

The biggest drawback of that extra row is that you end up losing over half the screen to the keyboard in landscape mode. Portrait mode has two drawbacks for me. The first is that the keys are too small, the second is that you can’t use the cover to prop the iPad up slightly in portrait.

So my request for Apple is to shrink the landscape mode keys slightly and tighten the gap between them by a pixel or two. If they did that they might even have enough room to add another key on the right of each row for some more punctuation keys.

I would resist any move by Apple to add an extra row of keys, I think allowing developers to come up with their own solutions allows for a number of different ways of approaching that extra row. If they do add one then I hope they allow developers a hook to replace it.

So what do you think of the iOS keyboard? Needs a change or leave it as is? Do you like an editor that has an extra row?

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One thought on “Writing On The iPad

  1. I could learn a lot from you about computers, Jim. This is my very first computer and have gotten “ill” since Dec of 2011. Sorry, can’t comment on your question. Thanks for asking tho’.

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