Say Hello to... iSlider?

iSlider - iPhone Slide Out Keyboard Concept

Could Steve Jobs be secretly developing and testing a slide-out keyboard version of the iPhone to make certain tic-tactile thumb typing enterprise customers happy? Sure. And he could be getting ready to license OS X to Dell and switch out the Mac casings to the little beige box company.

Of course, the same Jobs who said Apple wouldn't make a slider also said Apple wouldn't make a phone, and only a seasoned Kremlinologist can divine anything even remotely resembling Apple's forward looking plans anyway, so here, to go along with iFlip and iPhone Nano, is the iSlider:

What he is apparently doing is canvassing the idea with operators. "If you had a keyboard version, how many would you take?" And he has taken this beyond just chatting: actual prototypes - not just mockups - have been sent to senior executives at some operators. I'm not allowed to even hint which operators... but I can report that the keyboard has "issues" which are not yet resolved.

What "issues" remain unresolved? The big, honking lack of keyboard? Only time and and a Macworld Jobsnote Boom! will tell.

Personally, I've never been great on hard keyboards (as my old Treo, still sinking to the bottom of the Atlantic, will tell you), so I'm not particularly interested in this. How about you? Any urge to get your QUERTY on?


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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+.

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Reader comments

Say Hello to... iSlider?


I would most definitely like to get my QWERTY on, its a nice option to have as long as you dont have to compromise with size and weight.
However, I think one nice fix would be is to allow widescreen texting rather than portrait style with the current iPhone

Highly doubtful as even Jobs cracked another joke at the last keynote regarding "plastic keys"... I say no chance it will happen.

I can't help but think of this as giving users OPTIONS.
I don't see the harm in having the regular iPhone and a QWERTY iPhone.
WTF Jobs, if you're not going to put in a physical keyboard at least throw us some haptic feedback when we touch your Star Trek Next Generation helm

I was at the AT&T store the other day and while my wife was waiting on someone to help her with an issue on our plan (getting rid of our landline) and played with serveral of the other smart phones on display like the Blackberry, Treo, etc. and I have to say the iPhone virtual keyboard is a lot easier to use. People complain that the iPhone is not good for fat fingers but I had more of a problem typing on those cheap tiny keyboards than the iPhone. It's not like I'm doing a lot of typing on my iPhone anyway except for very short replies. I save my longer replies for my laptop.

i love physical keyboards but i dont know if i like them that big. i have found that the blackberry keyboard size is perfect for texting with yoru thumbs. the size which is displayed blow is wayy to big. you would need to put that thing down to be able to reach the middle keys.

Forget the physical keyboard, I want to use a pen to write my text!! Ala Newton or original Palm Pilot. I love hand writing recognition and did quite well with it and never warmed up to Palm Treo keyboard, and don't really love the keypad on the iPhone. In the VERY LEAST give us a horizontal virtual screen keypad, or open up Bluetooth so that I can use a small external foldable Bluetooth keyboard, but the best solution woujld be to give us TEXT INPUT !!!

This is Apple we're talking about. They know what's best for you. Options schmoptions. Besides, "haptic" feedback is a software update away...

Do you believe this? Really?
Then you don't understand how much Apple understand design.
Slide out keyboards are a mistake. I have owned 3 windows mobile devices in the last 4 years and no real progress in useability has been made.
The design of the iPhone 3G is evolutionary, not revolutionary. ... Because there was little wrong with the original.
We live in a very exciting time for technology. The statistics tell us that in the last 12 months Apple have gained a bigger share of the smartphone market through one device than MS through all of their manufacturers / carriers. If this is true (or even remotely true) then we are witnessing the start of the most spectacuar deaths in US corporate history...
Don't believe me? Come back and responed to this message in 5 years. Let's see who has been the innovator then. I don't work for Google. Or Apple. What do I know? I have owned Windows/Office/iWork/Mac over the last few years and I detect a sea change. Microsoft could easilty be the IBM of the 2010s... let's see...
would love to hear your comments

They could call it the iPoser... That big slab of beautiful glass is all that's needed, that is what's revolutionary about the phone and what sets it apart. A portrait keyboard in every application would be nice in 2.0 or whenever the next update is... you know, the one where we get video recording, cut & paste, MMS, etc. LOL

I text and email a lot and DETEST my iPhone's fidgety, inaccurate "virtual" keyboard. The only functional way for me to do a long email is to use one finger, which is a real drag. Two thumb tying on the glass plate produces unintended words, misspellings, and the need to go back and use that teeny magnifying glass to correct typos. So I, for one, would LOVE to see a real keyboard, even though that would detract from the simplicity of the product.

I wouldn't mind seeing an iPhone model with a sliding keyboard, but it would need be designed a bit different than the current one (and wouldn't look anything like that photoshopped one above :P).
As has been said, a landscape keyboard is all that's needed as far as typing goes, but for text editing we need more than just the magnifying glass. I'm not even going to suggest copy/paste functionality because everyone already knows it's missing.
I used to have a WinMob phone that I loved, it was the Sprint PPC6700. I got rid of it and upgraded to the Sprint PPC6800, otherwise known as the HTC Media Mogul. Great phone. Until I bought the iPhone it was the best phone I'd ever owned, and if something happened to my iPhone I could see myself going back to it if my only other option was to sign a new 2-year contract with AT&T for a replacement iPhone 3G.
For typing in portrait mode on the iPhone, the best way is not to use two thumbs, but use both of your index fingers, or your left thumb and your right index finger. You can get pretty accurate and quick that way. Pay attention to the autocorrections and take the time to train it, although some things it won't ever learn (lol always changed to LOL for example).

I am someone who loves Apple iPhone and I wouldn't mind seeing an iPhone model with a sliding keyboard. It will so cool if Steve Jobs reads this and decides to make it. But if he does decide to make it he should change the design and try to make it unique or at least different to the last one. It would so cool if you went further than this and made a small computer so it not just an iPhone but also a small computer. i know it might not be possible but its no harm trying.

that looks kinda hot, why not make a version with and without a keyboard, all bases would be covered, most other companies make more than one type of phone anyway, some with and some without

yes, WANT TO HAVE a qwerty iphone, for two reasons:
(1) faster to type with my blackberry, then with my iphone... if you use it for emailin/word processing, touchscreen keyboard is crap
(2) English predictive editing is okay, but in my mother tounge - forget it. It just cannot be implemented, koz the language has so many forms for the same word (agglutination, flectation....) All in all, we - proud Hungarians :) - need a normal qwerty keyboard for business use, otherwise we'll by BlackberryBold or T-mobile G1 - as soon as it looks any better than this funny 1950style pocket radio

I would buy the iphone if it were like this. Having to write long emails is a pain without a hardware full keyboard.

A regular keyboard would be a blessing for many of us who are visually impaired. I also know that for many of my co-workers, the keyboard issue is stopping them from getting an iphone. I hope apple makes an iphone with a regular keyboard soon.

I think this will actually increase the sale production for the iphone. And i really want a iphone with a keyboard it looks awsome

I would buy this in ONE second, from ANY carrier. The keyboard is the only reason I can't go to the current I-phone G3 - the 'touch' keyboard doesn't work with nails!

Awesome! Please God let them make this! Make it a peripheral even with a tiny little watch battery and low power Bluetooth!

So, I would totally buy this. I'm not a fan of touch screen keyboards. I love slide out keyboards. Please make them!

YES PLEASE ... I am itching to buy the iPhone but cannot live without my QWERTY keyboard and know I will not like the touch screen keyboard!!
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE make the iPhone Slider / iSlider and quick!!

Its not a step in the opposite direction, its stepping back on to a path that should have never been left behind.
My husband and I have the HTC Eris (1st gen poc) and we both really miss hard keyboards, texting is slow, and you can't really tell where your finger TIP is hitting until you've already hit it. Button definition is near essential! I mean no one has ever even tryed making a keyboard that is smooth-surfaced (oh wait, iPad - which I have one of but its just not as practical!), so I just dont really think we (as a 'technlogically inclined society) are technologically inclined ENOUGH to leave hard keys behind. -Or maybe its the technology itself that not quite ready to move on with us!!!!