The qualitative difference when writing on an iPad

The qualitative difference when writing on an iPad

Typing on an iPad is a decidedly deliberate affair. Absent a hardware keyboard, there's no feeling to the keys, no mechanical switch to the process, no muscle memory to produce words and phrase at the speed of thought. You almost have to look at what you're typing, and look again to make sure what was rendered matched your intent. Unlike a laptop keyboard, an instrument of will that simply puts character to screen, the iPad feels like something that needs to be coaxed at times, and that splits your attention between tool and creation. Jason Snell of Macworld has started exploring the differences he experiences when typing on a laptop compared to his iPad.

I’m no Oliver Sacks, but I’d wager that I’m just not taking more time to choose my words, but I’m actually using different parts of my brain when I write this way. And not only does the actual act of writing feel different, but the end result feels different to me too.

Two and half years and four-generations -- and a bit -- later, and I still find typing on the iPad more delightful and more frustrating than typing on my MacBook. I still default to my MacBook 95% of the time for writing anything longer than a few paragraphs, but I'm also not anywhere near the typist Snell is on either platform.

He's inspired me to go back and try some more writing on the iPad, however, and to try to better understand how that particular medium influences the message.

Check out the rest of Snell's post here:

Source: Macworld

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

AT&T LTE goes live in Wilkes-Barre, Nashua, Grand Rapids, and Auburn-Opelika

Next up →

Debug 3: Jury and Kaleidoscope

Reader comments

The qualitative difference when writing on an iPad


I liked the original article. Now, I don't write for a living, but I also find myself typing more deliberately on the iPad. Though my answer was not to go back to my Mac. I bought a Bluetooth keyboard. :)

Heh, same here! Maybe I'm just not such a fast typist that I need to be slowed down yet. :) I tend to find it more rather frustrating to type on the iPad than a keyboard. That said, I recently wrote a 1500 word article while on a flight on my iPad. No one has said it was better than my 'normal' keyboard-written articles, but no one has said it was worse either.

I agree with the distraction aspect (plus for the iPad over laptop/desktop), but the downside is the loss of being able to have all my research up alongside my writing. Since I do a lot of research (as opposed to creative writing), this slows me down for sure.

I really wish someone would come up with a killer multi-pane app for writers.... where one pane could be the document I'm working on, and the other pane could be a web-page or other documents with my research notes. I found an app called Side by Side + which does this (with up to 4 windows), but the UI is pretty space-intensive and unintuitive. I'd LOVE to see someone do something like that correctly. Any developers reading this!!!??? :)

I enjoyed his post. I like typing also and I do find that in order to type on my iPad mini I have to slow down and think about what I am typing. I think it's because my fingers want to feel the keys.

Tablets are meant to be primarily content consumption, not creation. But very easy to turn into workable typing station by just getting a bluetooth keyboard.

IMO, that is too cliche. It's simply more of an imposed reality currently for various types of tasks. For other types of tasks, the tablet is superior. It's more a matter of how much typing is involved and how complex it is, or whether the task requires lots of screen real-estate or the ability to put up information from multiple apps side-by-side. If the content creation is other than this, the tablet may well be better. Also, it isn't as simple as consumption vs creation, but often content modification... which tablets can be quite good at.

Cool article. I don't write for a living, but my line of work requires me to write reports, emails, etc. I am used to a regular pc keyboard, but I do a lot of typing from my iPad using a Remote Desktop app, and I must say I prefer my iPad... At home I have an iMac, and that keyboard is my least favorite to type on.

When I was in grad school, they had these Dells in the library with odd keyboards that just sucked. I'd MUCH rather type on my iPad! However, give me the BT keyboard I have on my Mac Mini or use with the iPad any day. While the iPad virtual keyboard leaves something to be desired, there are some pretty horrible 'normal' keyboards that PC users must endure every day.... or worse, the little chicklet keyboards on phones that don't have virtual keyboards!

I think you need to trust the auto-correction and just power on through. If you're typing anything that requires proofreading, you'll need to go back and review your copy anyway. Fix auto-correct errors when you proofread.

I have an iPad mini. And it's literally impossible to touch-type two-handed on it, in either portrait or landscape orientation. Best to hold it in two hands and double-thumb-type in portrait orientation. Otherwise the keyboard is too wide to thumb-type.

Funny you say that. When I remote in to my work laptop from my iPad, I find myself missing the autocorrect, auto period, etc.

i think if you need to type a lot of text and/or to type at high speed any virtual keyboard is simply difficult. Especially for people like me that learned to type without looking at the keyboard.

You may like typing on an iPad but the auto-correct feature doesn't pick up the slack when it comes to your horrendous grammar.