iOS 11 wish list: One-handed keyboard

How to enable Reachability for one-handed use of your iPhone
How to enable Reachability for one-handed use of your iPhone

Back in 2014, Apple gave us the big 4.7-inch iPhone and the bigger 5.5-inch iPhone Plus. To make up for the increased height, they also gave us reachability mode, which yanked the interface halfway down and brought top-of-the-screen controls down into usable range. What they didn't give us, though, was something to make up for increased width and general heft. Something like a one-handed keyboard? It'd be great to see in iOS 11.

Everything old...

It's long been rumored that Apple experimented with a one-handed keyboard to go along with the original iPhone 6 Plus but ultimately chose not to ship it. Recently, that keyboard was unearthed, like an artifact hidden deep within iOS.

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Perhaps this specific implementation wasn't ideal, or Apple simply didn't like the idea in general, but the concept looks to have a lot of merit. It also looks more attractive than similar implementations from other vendors of bigger phones.

Thumb happy

Apple obviously isn't averse to variant keyboards. iPad shipped with a split keyboard at launch. It was designed to make thumb typing easier on a much, much bigger screen. (Interestingly, the 12-inch iPad Pro ditched the split keyboard since it was too much, much, much bigger for it to make sense any more.)

Maybe for iPhone Plus, it makes the right kind of sense? It shares the challenge of typing one-handed, and not just because of width, but because of the weight distribution as well.

To use the default keyboard one-handed with an iPhone Plus, you have to be able to reach all the way across or juggle the phone over a bit to get to the opposite side. Biasing the more common typing characters to one side or another minimizes the amount of reaching or juggling you have to do, letting you better balance the weight, and better communicate one-handed.

I haven't had a chance to try the implementation pictures above, but I'd love to. If it made iMessage, Twitter, and other text-intensive tasks easier when I'm out walking, bag across my back, coffee in one hand, iPhone 7 Plus in the other, I'd be ecstatic.

Your wish list?

Would you want a one-handed keyboard in iOS 11? Let me know!

Rene Ritchie

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.