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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Apple iPad: Typing on the iPads touch keyboard

Apple iPad review: part II

In my last installment of the iPad review, i talked about the different connectivity options. 
This time I'll discuss an important productivity function: 

Many people consider the experience typing on a virtual keyboard to be a deal-breaker. I can't blame them. After all, most of the info you will be inputting on the iPad (or any mobile device) will come from your typing. Website URL's, searches, notes, calendar entries, etc. All rely on your ability to use the keyboard (or more accurately, the keyboards ability to be used by you).
Yes, there are external physical keyboards for sale, but we're looking at the built-in keyboard for maximum mobility with less baggage.

On to the Typing
If you will type on the iPad while holding it up, your arms will get strained after prolonged use. But if you lay it down and use the touch keyboard like a net book (in landscape mode), then there is no problem. In fact, i am used to typing moderate amounts on the iphone and android phones, so the larger touch keyboard on the iPad became ieven easier to get used to. Below is a video of me typing on the iPad, not too bad I think....in fact I may even type faster now on touch keyboards than on physical ones, but that may be because of my long experience using them on the iPhone. 

Other Word Processing features
What I do miss when using a touch keyboard is the cursor I have when using a mouse, they allow me to quickly select a specific part of text i want to edit or correct. The iPad magnifying glass can address that, but it's slower because you have to hold on the exact spot for 1 second before the tool pops up.

How about the spell checker or the dictionary? I find the iPad to only be decent in that category. The android spelling and dictionary helper is Much better...it lists in a small row all the possible words you may have intended to type and lets you pick which suggestion is better. It also learns from your choices and adapts the dictionary, (which you can even define on your won, if you want. I was able to build a mini dictionary of common Filipino slang terms on my android phone). While on the iPad/iPhone it only lists 1 suggestion per occurrence and you can't make a user defined dictionary.

Cut and paste is still better though on the iPad/iPhone because of the nice magnifying glass focus that allows you to easily specify and drag to capture the text you want to include. This sort of precision can almost match the ease of use on a standard keyboard/mouse setup.

I think in the end it all boils down to what device you will have with you when you want to write something. If the iPad is what you will be bringing along most of the time, then you will get used to typing on it
It's certainly much easier than writing on a smartphone, regardless of physical or virtual keyboard. Many would still probably find it easier to type on a standard netbook/laptop keyboard, but it won't be as handy to have around. And of course, there's always the option of bringing along the external bluetooth keyboard with your iPad.

If you do decide to write a lot of notes on an iPad or iPhone (or Android device), I suggest taking a look at Evernote. It's a free app that automatically syncs your notes across all of your devices that have Evernote installed.

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