Daily Tip: How to type faster and more easily on the iPad's split keyboard

How to type more efficiently with the iPad split keyboard

With iOS 5, Apple introduced a split keyboard mode for the iPad, so we could more easily type with our thumbs when holding the iPad in both hands. If you already use the split keyboard, you know it provides one of the best touchscreen typing experiences on any tablet. But did you know Apple built in "phantom keys" to make typing with the split keyboard even faster and easier?

How to activate the split keyboard

If you're not familiar with the split keyboard, it's easy to enable.

  1. When the keyboard is visible, tap-and-hold the Shuffle Slider button on the bottom-right hand corner of the keyboard.
  2. From here, a popup menu will let you activate the split keyboard, or just slide your finger up to split the keyboard into two sections.
  3. Adjust the keyboard placement to your liking.

Bonus tip: Once you get the hang of it, you can simply "pinch to zoom in" (like you would to make a photo or website bigger) to split the keyboard, and "pinch to zoom out" (like you would to make a photo or website smaller) to join the keyboard back up again.

How to use the phantom keys

It turns out, When using the split keyboard, the empty spaces on the inside edges actually function as if the missing keys were actually there. So, for example, if you want to type 'H' you can just tap the empty space next to 'G', and your iPad will subsequently output 'H' without actually requiring you to tap the key. (And vice-versa.)

This is a great feature for those of us who type based on muscle memory and expect keys to be where we're used to them being. Most of us don't have thumbs long enough to reach entirely across an iPad screen, but when we're typing fast we're certainly apt to reach a little, anticipating an extra key to be there.

By making "phantom keys" available, but invisible, Apple provides the best of both worlds. Our eyes see where we should be typing, but the system catches us if our thumbs inadvertently overreach themselves.

It's thoughtful user interface design like this that's makes typing on the iPad even faster and easier than it otherwise might be.

Check out the video above to see it in action.

Source: Finer Things in iOS

Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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Reader comments

Daily Tip: How to type faster and more easily on the iPad's split keyboard

22 Comments

If you hold both thumbs on full keyboard, you can drag the keyboard into the split mode. Your first idea is why didn't Apple allow the user to set the various sizes you see as it is being moved. Unfortunately, it snaps to a fixed position.
A second item they missed is cursor control. Think about how useful it would be to have four Arrows (UP, DN , LF, RT) surrounding a center button labeled "Delete or Del" to quickly delete a character to the right of the cursor. I have wasted a lot of time trying to place the cursor inorder to make edits in text which could be done quickly with this simple change. It could be called the ffastffrank (c) keyboard.
Best Regards,
The ElderTechTutor

Apple didn't "miss" cursor control; they deliberately left it out. Just like when they launched the original Mac, they didn't include arrow keys so it would force developers to remake GUI-specific apps for Mac and not just port over command-line apps from the Apple II or DOS. They don't want developers or users treating the iPad like a PC, they want them treating it like a multitouch mainstream computing appliance.
That might annoy PC users the same way the Mac annoyed DOS users, but mainstream users will ultimately benefit by having better, more thoughtful iPad apps.

i hear but i gotta say its a real pain in the arse! it takes a LONG time to place the "curser" (not "cursor" cuz i curse at it lol) in the right spot. and we have a backspace button for deleting the last character - why not a "del" key (front-way delete) oh how id love it

if you hold your finger down on the text field, a magnifying glass will pop up and you can easily place the cursor where you want it without tapping in multiple areas on the screen until you get the correct location.

That is why so many people jailbreak/root devices, to get what we want, like cursor control. Certainly many folks at Mobile Nations do it and talk alot about it.

I hear ya "yf". That really irks me that they spend all this time on devloping split keyboards, phantom keys etc, but can't add one button to reverse delete. The magnifying glass is OK for finding a location on a page from time to time, but to quickly fix a spelling error it takes too long ! I can't believe this also doesn't annoy decision makers like Scott Forstall ? I think I might jailbreak just to get this function !

Now we just need a jailbreak tweak that shows these phantom keys transparently. Otherwise it is a little bit hard to visualize when typing.

why doesnt my ipad do this??
- when i touch the "keyboard" button it doesnt give me the option to split - the kboard just disappears, i have to split it with my fingers
- i cant move the keyboard up or down wheither its in full size or split

hold down the bottom right key, the keyboard icon and the menu will pop up to undock the keyboard. Hold it down again and you can move it back down.

I have to say this is the most useful iOS tip I've gotten so far. One of the few things I didn't know about the platform. Thanks guys! My productivity just went up.

Those pancakes look good although I have never had anything buckwheat before (I think). I love the look of uber-healthy foods these days. In the past I would scowl, now I rejoice and drool.I will have to try that technique with my dog also. We thought he didn't bark either for the first two years of his life (I guess being the last of his litter to be adopted will do that to a pup) so when he started last summer, we were all shocked but in a delighted way. We love when he barks. I think it is hilarious. When I speak to him, he always turns his head as if he totally understands what I am saying...which I actually think he does. He is a super smart dog. Aw, I love him so very much.

Those pancakes look good although I have never had anything buckwheat before (I think). I love the look of uber-healthy foods these days. In the past I would scowl, now I rejoice and drool.I will have to try that technique with my dog also. We thought he didn't bark either for the first two years of his life (I guess being the last of his litter to be adopted will do that to a pup) so when he started last summer, we were all shocked but in a delighted way. We love when he barks. I think it is hilarious. When I speak to him, he always turns his head as if he totally understands what I am saying...which I actually think he does. He is a super smart dog. Aw, I love him so very much.

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