We all know that the iPad is great at being a personal device, but without the keyboard dock supplied by Apple as an additional accessory, just how easy is it to type on the virtual qwerty keyboard?
I have to admit, the iPad’s keyboard does take a little getting used to. If you’ve seen the iPad TV spot, you’ll notice that when it comes to showing the on-screen keyboard aspect of the device (0:22), Apple doesn’t even show the model typing .. but instead shows a brief moment implying the model is about the type. There’s a reason for this. Although the keyboard on the iPad doesn’t “suck”, its definitely an experience which takes a little time to get used to.
The first thing you’ll notice is the tactile feel of a keyboard isn’t there .. meaning you have little to no chance of your brain registering you’ve tapped the right key, unless you’re eagle-eyed and looking at which key is dimming as you’re typing. The other little annoyance is the fact the the iPad’s keyboard doesn’t have those nice ‘Pop-Up’ letter strokes. For me, these really define the iPhone and sort of act like a visual indicator I have touched the right key. With the iPad, you only know if you’ve touched the wrong key, after typing it. This is especially true when typing for a long period of time.
To test this out to the max I decided to write up this post using WordPress for iPad. The first thing to note is that the iPad’s keyboard is about the same size as a regular physical keyboard when in landscape. In portrait mode however, it’s a lot smaller and therefore a lot more difficult to type on.
The landscape layout allows for you to use two hands to type comfortably, while holding the device on your lap with raised knees and your left hand in a sort of ‘L’ shape, made up of your index finger and thumb, for support. In portrait mode though the way you hold the device has to change. Naturally, I switched to holding the device with just my left hand, using my right hand to type with my index finger.
So how does it fair for extended use with Apple’s iWork productivity suite (sold separately)? Well, quite well actually. In fact, when using Pages for iPad, I found the portrait keyboard to be more comfortable due to it being smaller and allowing me to see a lot more of the screen’s real estate, while creating my documents.
Now, while both of these positions obviously have their pros and cons, I personally found it easier and more natural to type while in landscape mode. In Scott Forstall’s now famous words: “It just feels right”.
The question is: How will you type on yours?