Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 25th Oct 2012 14:52 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, one of its most prominent and most controversial features was the on-screen keyboard. In as world dominated by devices with physical keyboards, it was seen as a joke, something that could never work. We know better by now, of course, but while I still prefer the physical feel and clicks of a real keyboard, a recent new endeavour of mine has made me appreciate the on-screen keyboard in a whole new way.
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Not only that..
by osvil on Thu 25th Oct 2012 15:39 UTC
osvil
Member since:
2012-10-25

In fact, what I feel it becomes "killer" with virtual keyboards is how they can easily adapt to the task at hand. Simple stuff as changing the keyboard layout when typing email addresses (making @ easily reachable, for example) or removing the space bar when typing url addresses and having a handy ".com".

It is a pity that people are not expanding this capability further. That is an advantage (maybe the only?) to the classical keyboards.

Personally, people complain a lot about virtual keyboards. Personally I am able to "touch type" on the ipad virtual keyboard easily if placed appropriately. It seems that for me spatial memory is more important than the touch feed back, and the iPad in landscape mode seems to have the "right" spacing.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Not only that..
by StephenBeDoper on Thu 25th Oct 2012 20:39 in reply to "Not only that.."
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

In fact, what I feel it becomes "killer" with virtual keyboards is how they can easily adapt to the task at hand. Simple stuff as changing the keyboard layout when typing email addresses (making @ easily reachable, for example) or removing the space bar when typing url addresses and having a handy ".com".


I have mixed feelings about the ".com" button. On one hand, I think it's a clever idea and (as you pointed out) one of the chief advantages of having a keyboard implemented in software. But on the other hand, it doesn't take into account that there are many places where ".com" isn't the most commonly-used TLD.

And yes, I know that most virtual keyboards let you tap-and-hold to get the net, org, and edu TLDs - but none of the virtual keyboards I've used have a .ca option. Being in Canada, most of domains I type in (either in URLs or EMail addresses) use the .ca TLD - making the ".com" key largely useless, at least for me.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Not only that..
by HappyGod on Fri 26th Oct 2012 04:35 in reply to "RE: Not only that.."
HappyGod Member since:
2005-10-19

This is a particular bug-bear of mine. Although the default iOS keyboard does let you hold the .com key to get the .au suffix that I need, why can't I configure it so that I get '.com.au' by default.

Very annoying. The cynic in me guesses that setting the caption of the button to '.com.au' would take up to much space, and they couldn't be bothered reformatting the keyboard to accommodate it!

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Not only that..
by Doc Pain on Thu 25th Oct 2012 22:57 in reply to "Not only that.."
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

In fact, what I feel it becomes "killer" with virtual keyboards is how they can easily adapt to the task at hand. Simple stuff as changing the keyboard layout when typing email addresses (making @ easily reachable, for example) or removing the space bar when typing url addresses and having a handy ".com".

It is a pity that people are not expanding this capability further.


The "problem" with keyboards having a different layout than the typical typewriter-like keyboard you find infront of PCs is that typists have learned certain "motor programs" to transform thoughts into keystrokes. There is no visual discovery or even confirmation involved in what the hands do. That makes this approach fast. The QWERT(Z/Y) layout may be suboptimal, but it is established in a way that most keyboards have a layout comparable to the "standard EN/US layout" that makes nearly any keyboard quickly usable. The idea is: "It works the same everywhere."

Dynamically programmable buttons, or "keys changing function according to current context" is nothing new. It's what PF keys (programmable function keys, the 12 or 24 on top) have initially been designed for. Of course the information what they will do is not provided on the keys theirselves - it would be useless as no typist looks at them. Instead this information is presented on the screen.

With the "blurring of concepts" of what is input and what is output on tablets and smartphones, there is the chance to re-invent the PF keys, but not just regarding "key captions", but also location and look. This can be an advantage if properly used, like removing keys that would generate invalid input for a certain task (like space bar for entering URIs, as you've mentioned). This is already done in several ways. As there is no tactile feedback on tablets, you don't have to deal with the "mechanical aspects" of keyboards and how it is important to typists. So the way is free to try new ideas.

An interesting "in-between" approach can be seen in the Optimus Keyboard:

http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus/maximus/

http://thefutureofthings.com/upload/items_icons/Optimus-keyboard_la...

(the older version having a better layout)

Anyway, no typist looks at the keyboard. Those people around the typist look at it, and envy him for having such cool hardware. :-)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Not only that..
by zima on Thu 1st Nov 2012 23:59 in reply to "RE: Not only that.."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The QWERT(Z/Y) layout may be suboptimal, but it is established in a way that most keyboards have a layout comparable to the "standard EN/US layout" that makes nearly any keyboard quickly usable. The idea is: "It works the same everywhere."

Don't believe too much the people who claim QWERT(Z/Y) to be "suboptimal" and so on. Because, for example, many of them are proponents of Dvorak - a position which has some... issues: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard#Controversy
Some others are just trying to sell something (like "really ergonomic" keyboards)

So it's likely safe to say that QWERTY is not really suboptimal - certainly, yes, to the world at large (while Dvorak for example is supposedly meant for one specific language; my 1st language doesn't even really have its Dvorak layout yet; my 2nd language has two semi-official Dvorak layouts...)


BTW, it's probably "the standard Chinese layout" by now ;P
1. they manufacture most of them after all
2. it seems that the PRC & its vast population actually uses a standard QWERTY, physically; which is not entirely uncommon, Poland also does it in practice (hypothetically we have our own layout, but it's mostly ignored when it comes to computer keyboards) - the right Alt acts as AltGr to obtain ęóąśłżźćń.

PS. Tablets can have some for of tactile feedback already. Some phones do have it - using the built in vibration device (and I imagine several of them working in unison could fool our senses in some curious ways, especially if the device was also detecting how it is held - for example with some array of low-resolution capacitance sensors, on its case)

Edited 2012-11-02 00:18 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2