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Homebrew iPhone External Keyboard

Dying for an external keyboard on your iPhone? Well, you're in luck! This proof of concept shows that if you're an electrical engineering genius -- or more likely a teenager -- you can hack together one of your very own! Engadget says this solution involves Ruby code on a jailbroken iPhone, so it's definitely not plug n'play (or better yet, Blue Tooth!) so for now only the hardcore need apply.

Anyone want to try it?

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

38 Comments
  • It would be nice to have a Stowaway bluetooth keyboard like I used to use with my Treo
  • How gay is this, get a blackberry.
  • I don't understand why there are so many people crying about the iPhone keyboard. It works great - especially in landscape. I'm so pleased with my iPhone and appeciate it more BECAUSE I've used a palm and blackberry. Sure it would be even greater with extra features like cut n paste, A2DP Bluetooth, etc..., but an external keyboard isn't one of those feature that would offer any enhancement.
  • I can 'out type' most people with fewer errors (even with the iPhone auto-correct) on my Garmin 3600 (Palm OS 5 based) when it's running Grafitti 1.
    I don't have to look, just scribble on the screen and it works.
    And yes, for some people, an external keyboard would be a blessing.
  • @coop - well congratulations to you. Can you hack Apple OS platforms and patch together deviant hardware form factors? Thought not, but keep going with those Garmin typing skills, they might come in useful one day (like if we're all beamed back to 1996 by some freaky timewarp).
  • I don't mind the on-screen keyboard...in fact, I think I am getting almost as fast on it as I was with my Treo, but for email, and maybe even some light word processing with Zoho, an external keyboard option would be great. For everyday use, I'm generally pleased with the on-screen keyboard and auto correct
  • Hi Steve - ya sarcastic twerp,
    The point is that no input format is best - different things work for different people. I have an iPhone and it has great features - and drawbacks. Having to look at the screen to see where you're typing can be a pain sometimes.
    Being able to print directly on the screen, without having to ever look at the screen is neat, and works well in some situations, as does the 'real' keyboard on a BB or similar device.
    It would be nice if Apple allowed the capabilities of the iPhone (such as BT tethering to external keyboards via a complete BT stack) to be utilized – that way people wouldn’t have to ‘hack’ the system.
    And I don’t know where your random crack about my HW abilities comes into the discussion, but...
    I've never bothered to play with the HW on recent Apple systems, but I've spent nearly 30 years (holy crap!) working with computer hardware design and manufacturing - so if I wanted to "patch together deviant hardware form factors" it'd just take a little time to get up to speed on the platform
    When I started, you had to write and build damn near everything just to talk to the processor, so ‘patching’ stuff together is no big deal. Over the years, I've probably forgotten more about computer systems and hacking than you'll ever know - or need to know given the current state of development technology.
    The point – don’t be a smartass, the person you’re dissin’ just might be smarter than you.
    Such as now.
    Oh yeah, I had to walk to school, uphill both ways, hip deep in the snow, in bare feet, in the summer, in the ‘olden days’ too.
    ;-)
    coop
  • Is there any waythat u can hack the iPhone to make the keyboard flip to landscape if there is plz tell!
  • Why do we need toilets? There are still trees and grass right?
  • I've got a couple hundred notes on my Palm that I'd love to have on my iPhone (some of which are multi-paragraph or -page). I'm willing to type a lot of them in again, but whereas I can do 20wpm on the iPhone keyboard, I'd really prefer the 60wpm that I can do on a regular keyboard.
    That is, the iPhone keyboard is great, but not sufficient to all tasks.
  • we want a foldaway docking keyboard. How hard is that? I could buy one way back on my palm in late 90's-2000. Come on someone pleaseeeee. This thing is useless for business otherwise.
  • I cannot believe Apple is not creating a docking station with keyboard and monitor hookups for the iPhone. Yes I understand all the stuff about making the notebook obsolete, and the ATT deal for data. But how could they not see the market share they would gain over Microsoft if they would look at the bigger picture. Microsoft is probably scrambling to come up with something to compete, but also realizes Apple is about to miss the boat again (Mac should have clobbered windows). How could a company that makes such great software, be so short sited on the marketing end of things.
  • Hey Mike, check out a program called Companionlink. I used it to convert my Palm files to MS Outlook, then Outlook to my iPhone. The notes trnasferred over to the Notes icon on the phone. I hope this helps.
    By the way, I did learn after the conversion that much of the additional notes I had within my contacts did not transfer over. So take note.
    Tonyb
  • Hello...
    I am xrumer, where is my beer?!
    It is only a testing ;)
  • I would like to say, great blog. Im unsure if it has been addressed, but when using Explorer I can never get the entire site to load without refreshing alot of times. Could just be my router. Appreciate your work
  • Usually I tend not to submit on articles, but I need to say that this article truly forced me to do so! Many thanks, definitely nice article. http:
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