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iOS and Mac OS X tweaks!

with 4 comments

I’ve finally got round to tweaking this website. I’ve been recently introduced to the ‘more’ tag in wordpress. Not I can shorten the length of the articles on the front page so the site loads quicker. While I’m in the tweaking mood, I’ve been wanting to write an article about tweaking certain aspects of Safari (it’s a common browser behaviour actually) and the iOS keyboard.

I’ve got a full nerd-on here for the UI issues i’m about to discuss, so please skip this post if it is not your thing.

I won’t discuss major problems like the blue icon for iTunes or Aperture not correcting the orientation of an image on import after instructing it to. I’m looking at really tiny, UI issues, that have started to irritate me:

  • Why can’t,com be formatted into (or any address besides my example)? Why aren’t internet browsers clever enough to auto-correct the comma for a fullstop (a period)?
  • Lack of Dvorak Keyboard layout in iOS. Why? When there is an option for Cherokee? Even OS X has a Dvorak layout but it’s useless unless you get a keyboard cover or owned the Optimus Keyboard.

Steve Jobs mentioned in the 2007 MacWorld keynote that one of the advantages of using software was that you can modify it after shipping a button, something you couldn’t do with hardware buttons. So why do we still have the same Qwerty keyboard layout? I would argue the current iOS keyboard is a step backwards; for a number of reasons:

  • It tries to follow the conventions of a physical keyboard but it takes extra key-presses for the same tasks. It looks like a normal keyboard, so we would expect it to work like one but it doesn’t fully behave like one. The HP TouchPad is slightly better by including a number row on their default keyboard.
  • The ABC key, it’s disruptive while typing as it’s inconveniently situated underneath your palm while you’re tapping away; you have to move your hand off the keyboard to see where it is and back down again to call up another keyboard. It find it easier while typing, to use the word ‘five’ instead of actually typing ‘5’ because it doesn’t slow me down.
  • The act of switching keyboards in itself is getting tedious. Why can’t I invoke a swipe gesture instead? Swipe on the keyboard space to the left, to get the numeric keyboard, swipe right to invoke the character keyboard. At the moment, the software keyboards sit behind one another on three separate levels. Opting for a gesture to switch keyboards, flattens the levels to just one. They would sit offscreen, either side of the primary keyboard.
  • You can’t change the size of the keyboard, even though it’s rendered in software, why is it static like a physical keyboard? The HP TouchPad allows you to change the size of the keyboard.
  • The autocorrect is too clever, if I type ‘Hell’, it will always be substituted for ‘He’ll’. Why can’t I have an option that pops up asking for the correct one? Or make it context aware, can we do that yet? Alternatively use those little pop ups that a user can hold press for certain vowels or when you want to change the keyboard’s language. (I have four language keyboards on both my iPad and iPhone).

iA Writer keyboard with the keyboard language pop over.

  • The keyboard UI doesn’t have to be brain dead, some 3rd parties have created their own keyboards. iA Writer (pictured above) provides another strip on top of Apple’s default keyboard layout. There are other Apps but I haven’t used them as much.
  • No arrow keys, how tedious is it to constantly hold press to get in between a word misspelled? I find it easier to just delete the entire word rather than resorting to a hold press to get the loup. I find I only need forward and back.

I’m sure there are more tweaks, I can’t remember them at the moment, but I’ll add them to this list as time goes forward.

UPDATE: Ironically, in a post about tweaking, I had to tweak the article, due to so many grammatical errors!

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Written by jonathanjk

March 6, 2011 at 12:54

4 Responses

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  1. Until Apple makes adds a Dvorak soft keyboard I won’t be buying an iOS device. That’s two iOS devices Apple won’t be selling.


    November 14, 2011 at 15:16

  2. I would love to have the Dvorak as an option, I have it invoked on my Mac and use an overlay mat to see the key arrangement. It’s not elegant but it works. I don’t understand why Apple hasn’t done this layout yet but has Cherokee as an option!

    What has been useful however because they haven’t updated the iOS keyboard, I can switch between both layouts on the fly.


    November 14, 2011 at 15:26

  3. “Even OS X has a Dvorak layout but it’s useless unless you get a keyboard cover or owned the Optimus Keyboard.”

    Incorrect, a touch typist does not need the key caps to match the layout. I’ve been using Dvorak in OS X for as long as I can remember (I never even learned QWERTY) with only one hitch – single user mode or open firmware. But having QWERTY key caps allows me to still function in SU or OF.


    September 24, 2012 at 07:32

  4. While true, how many touch typing Dvorak users are there out in the world?

    When I say useless, I mean any random person who hears about Dvorak and changes their preferences (like I did). They can’t possibly look at the existing Qwerty layout and decide they got this. They would need a cover. So it’s useless.

    You however are an exception, not the rule. Though I do salute you on never learning Qwerty.


    October 29, 2012 at 13:53

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