It's neat, but will never happen. The prototype misses the subtle intersection of all the constraints necessary for good design on the iPad. At a high level, here are a few that you want to optimize for:
- Efficiency: how fast can the user perform the task at hand?
- Intuitivity: how likely is it the user will understand how to use it without direct instruction? (based upon trial and error, previous experience, etc.)
- Consistency: how much is it like other patterns in the same UI/environment?
- Metaphor: how much does it 'feel' like other real-world objects and leverages how the user understands them already?
These are of course a sample of high level overlapping themes. This particular prototype is obviously optimizing for efficiency. It does so very well, but at a very, very deep cost to the others. It is an undiscoverable interface. It utterly destroys the direct manipulation illusion of the iPad. It causes the virtual keys to no longer be metaphorical buttons since you can drag across them for an effect. It is inconsistent with other use of gestures, particularly since you are controlling a cursor remotely much like you would with a mouse (likely a fire-able proposition at Apple!)
The thing that makes Apple's work so amazing is the balance they manage to strike between these things and so consistently get it right. For a power user, give me vim, Maya, Photoshop, and other tools that optimize for efficiency (much like this prototype does.) But when designing things that are meant to be universally available, a more subdued and balanced approach across these types of constraints is necessary.
I actually agree with you on most of those points.
Yet it's worth pointing out that a plain old $10 keyboard beats the iPad on every one of those. And it's not even close.
Yet people insist on putting lipstick on this pig, trying to believe that text editing on a tablet doesn't suck. They're great media consumption devices. Don't try to use them in contexts where they work poorly, nor fool yourself into thinking they can be "fixed".
As a visual designer, I have to disagree. Trying to work on an iPad is a complete waste of time. Sketching/prototyping by hand is orders of magnitude faster than on an iPad, and it wouldn't even be worth it to try to produce anything resembling deliverable work. The required depth of interaction, breadth of options, and fine-grain control just isn't there.
For musicians, I think it's a different story because the iPad usually augments an existing setup; it can be integrated with other devices to fill a specific need that can be solved by a touch interface into highly customized software. In this case, the iPad is actually allowing totally new interaction that wasn't possible before. This is much more useful than the visual designer's case, where previously established modes of interaction are simulated in an interface they weren't designed for.
I, and quite a few colleagues, find it really good for ideation, and not too shabby for finished work. David Hockney's recent exhibition at the Royal Academy featured iPads heavily. Anecdotal, perhaps. My point was that to say that iPads are just for consumption is wrong.
Paper from FiftyThree is very good. Omnigraffle is a useful tool to, but pricey. Photoshop for ipad looks promising too. Matt Gemmell recently wrote a blog post about using the iPad from a UX designers point of view.
>As a visual designer, I have to disagree. Trying to work on an iPad is a complete waste of time. Sketching/prototyping by hand is orders of magnitude faster than on an iPad, and it wouldn't even be worth it to try to produce anything resembling deliverable work.
YMMV. Other's have no such problems. Not to mention that it can also do wire-framing, it has tons of apps for professional photographers when combined with the camera connection kit (from going through your shoot to check for keepers and apply keywords, to tethered shooting), and when painting or sketching you can export your graphics work in PDF, PNG, layered Tiff and other formats to finish off on your Mac.
>For musicians, I think it's a different story because the iPad usually augments an existing setup
Same thing can be for visual designers/illustrators/information architects/writers etc whatever. Parent said it can be used for creation, not that you have to ONLY use that from zero to finished output.
No, I just said that ONE of his points is YMMV-kind-of-correct. What I'm saying overall is that this doesn't make working with the iPad a "complete waste of time" --it just makes it complementary. Not to mention that people have created works entirely on the iPad too (like several "New Yorker" cover paintings).
I also address this in an other part of my response: "Parent said it can be used for creation, not that you have to ONLY use that from zero to finished output."
It's not lazy and trite. Just because it's simple doesn't mean it's either of those things. The reality is just that simple: Tablets vs PCs really illustrate core competencies in "Lean Back" (consumption) computing and "Lean Forward" (creation) computing, respectively.
The best analogy I've heard is vehicles. Trucks for heavy duty hauling, cars for ease and efficiency. Because of their form factors and feature differences, the utility of each vehicle is unique from the other.
It's almost obvious, if you think about it. Simple, really.
It's trite because it's inevitable that in a discussion about iPads someone will say it and lazy because just a few minutes using your search engine of preference will illustrate that work can easily be accomplished on an iPad, not because it's simple. In fact there should be a Godwin like law around it. Your analogy is a good one though.
There are a number of apps available for iOS for music creation, ranging in complexity from simple synths and virtual drum kits, to quite accomplished sequencers/DAWs (Apple's own garageband is a perfect example). If i remember rightly Damon Alban created the newest Gorillaz album entirely on the ipad 
Note: I don't own an ipad, i just lust after all the cool music apps. I wish people would get started creating equivalent apps for android tabs (though i understand there were historical issues with the audio API in android, which i believe were rectified as of ICS)
I've seen professionals use an iPad as a drum sequencer. Not sure which app, but there you go. The audio output is fine, and a touch interface is definitely suitable for certain music applications, especially live performance.
There are several synthesizer apps where you trigger notes and control various parameters using multi-touch on a 2D surface. More expressive than a normal keyboard, more likely to come up with something new and interesting, and cheaper than esoteric MIDI hardware controllers that allow similar things.
As a professional classical singer, I often use the iPad in lieu of sheet music for concerts, and so do my colleagues. It's become rather popular for that use. Check out ForScore if you want to see what a nice music-reader app looks like.
Musicians use the iPad in all kinds of different ways.
This is actually an example of content consumption from the iPad.
As a singer, you're creating music. But you're pulling information from the tablet - not creating content on it. This example actually supports the idea of tablets being optimized for consumption over creation. Content is going from the iPad to you, not vice-versa.
>Yet people insist on putting lipstick on this pig, trying to believe that text editing on a tablet doesn't suck. They're great media consumption devices.
2009 called, they want their argument back. Lots and lots of people have created media (and even programs) on their iPads. From writers, to musicians, to programmers even (actually, just the other week, the first ever game created solely on the iPad was published to the App Store --it only needed external compilation and signature on XCode, all the actual coding and testing was done in the iPad).
>Don't try to use them in contexts where they work poorly
Really? Because for a "consumption device" I think my iPad is the best DAW controller available on the market for the money, to name just one use. It used to cost like $3000 for a comparable device just a few years ago.
And it's much more portable and distraction free to use with a bluetooth keyboard for writing than any laptop...
>nor fool yourself into thinking they can be "fixed".
Really? What exactly can't be fixed? We already have experiments with haptic feedback, and of course one can always use one with a wireless keyboard --you know, like the one Apple sells or the tens of keyboard+case combos.
Also, check out technologies like Blind Type (proximity to intended letter and word statistics based inference):
If we talk efficiency, speed or ergonomics the ipad is a joke. Simple as that. And yes, if you want you can use a keyboard on the ipad, as if the workflow wasn't awkward enough, how well does ctrl+z work on the ipad?
BlindType is neat but compared to a real keyboard? BlindType, compared to a real keyboard, is just another text predicting tool that must compare everything to a glossary meaning that mixing languages is hard, writing words that isn't in the glossary is awkward (especially considering that you don't know what words are in the glossary to begin with). Yes, BlindType looks awesome, for a virtual keyboard.
>Talk about being in a reality distortion field. If we talk efficiency, speed or ergonomics the ipad is a joke.
"Reality distortion field"? Classy. Also a "fanboy", right?
Last time I checked, the iPad is touted by UI experts everywhere for it's ergonomics and efficient interface for tons of functions. It's so easy and ergonomic that even babies, non-tech-savvy elders and lizards (sic) can use it [google the last one].
It's true that its' touch screen is not the most efficient interface _for_writing_, but that is because writing is not its target use. Though, I don't know with what you compare with -- PC's with keyboard?
If so, it too can be paired with a wireless keyboard just as easily as any PC. Who said it should not? I don't use my PC mouse when I draw, I use a Wacom tablet. Similarly, I don't use the iPad's keyboard when I write lengthy texts, I pair it with a keyboard. In the future, as tablets get more powerful, we would pair it to other stuff too, from monitors to external controllers etc, just as we do with out PCs now. That doesn't mean my PC is not for creation --it just means I need an additional tool (in my case, my beloved Intuos 4) for my creations.
>And yes, if you want you can use a keyboard on the ipad, as if the workflow wasn't awkward enough, how well does ctrl+z work on the ipad?
Actually, several people prefer the "workflow" of the iPad better. YMMV. Less distractions, not worrying about your data, great battery life, plug in and write. Including several writers --as in professional writers-- are using it for their everyday work, from Shawn Blanc, to Harry McCraken, to random authors and journalists.
To even bring up the baby and lizard argument is hilarious, it's like commenting on a baby learning to walk falling and say: Look! He/She just figured out how gravity works! The lizard probably appreciated the IPS panel and couldn't have been fooled by any other technology than the all mighty retina display, it's nothing but a marvel and the peak of the human civilization, each ipad are most likely followed by an angel that lifts it up so that it can be carried easily in your hand. In all honestly, and I can not stress this enough, that's how you sound.
You really don't need an ipad to get rid of distractions but for those that take that route I'd hope they would try to work on the problem and not the symptoms. No need to sacrifice their working environment.
I couldn't care less about how people use their ipads, there are probably someone writing essays on his/her phone too - is that proof that it works well? There have probably been more people drying/killing their dogs in an microwave than there are professional writers that do their majority of writing on an ipad. For those that enjoys working on the ipad and for those that really believe that it has been beneficial to their life that's great. But for those that doesn't confuse user-friendly with beginner-friendly might want to invest more than a few seconds in their working environment, sure there are advantages to a touch screen and sure there are disadvantages. You said it yourself, writing is not its target use - then don't try to adapt your writing so that it works on the ipad.
Yes, if all you want to do is stream characters from your conscious to a device then yes of course a keyboard works fine with the ipad. But if you want to do anything more than that (highlight a word perhaps?), I sincerely hope, that you would realize its limitations. And most physical keyboards for the ipad that focus on mobility are just pathetic, there's another invention that might be more handy - a laptop.
But then again, ergonomically, laptops are of course not the ideal writing machine either (can't believe I really feel the need to point that out).
>To even bring up the baby and lizard argument is hilarious, it's like commenting on a baby learning to walk falling and say: Look! He/She just figured out how gravity works! The lizard probably appreciated the IPS panel
What I was saying is that lots of iOS functions are so intuitive --more intuitive that in a PC-- that even toddlers can "get" them. It's not a unique insight I had, UI experts have praised the exact same interaction models, and some even gave the same examples. Mouse use has to be learned, touch interaction is a concept we are "wired" for.
That doesn't make touch interaction better for all kinds of complex workflows, but it does make it more obvious and intuitive. I you want to argue against that, well...
>and couldn't have been fooled by any other technology than the all mighty retina display, it's nothing but a marvel and the peak of the human civilization, each ipad are most likely followed by an angel that lifts it up so that it can be carried easily in your hand. In all honestly, and I can not stress this enough, that's how you sound.
I lost you there. Maybe you smoked something heavy before writing this part? (for medical purposes of course, I wouldn't suggest otherwise).
>You really don't need an ipad to get rid of distractions but for those that take that route I'd hope they would try to work on the problem and not the symptoms. No need to sacrifice their working environment.
Them clicking and being distracted is not the "problem" if that's what you imply. It's like blaming the victim. It's only natural in a environment with tons of options, distractions, alerts, etc, to get distracted. That they should change their character (or human nature) instead of the all-too-cluttered computing environment is absurd.
So, that's exactly what they did: they treated the problem (the presence of distractions) and not the symptom (their clicking on them every other minute). Thus, they started using a machine with less distractions. Hell, even on PCs distraction-free software is on the rise the last 2-3 years, as is GTD/stop-procrastinating apps (not to mention that 1/10's articles on HN is of the "how can I be less distracted/do more/avoid procrastination" etc variety.
>I couldn't care less about how people use their ipads, there are probably someone writing essays on his/her phone too - is that proof that it works well?
Given that they use a keyboard --so your stated reason against using an iPad for writing is obliterated--, I'd say, yeah, it's a proof that it works well. If you continue to rant against using an iPad for writing even WITH a keyboard, well, then maybe you are acting a bit irrationally?
>There have probably been more people drying/killing their dogs in an microwave than there are professional writers that do their majority of writing on an ipad.
I seriously doubt that.
I've read at least 6-7 accounts from prominent writers, and no accounts from people drying their dogs in a microwave (now, the latter is illegal, but people write about doing illegal things all the time. I would expect at least someone in 4chan to profess his killing dogs in microwave habbit).
>You said it yourself, writing is not its target use - then don't try to adapt your writing so that it works on the ipad.
>Yes, if all you want to do is stream characters from your conscious to a device then yes of course a keyboard works fine with the ipad. But if you want to do anything more than that (highlight a word perhaps?), I sincerely hope, that you would realize its limitations. And most physical keyboards for the ipad that focus on mobility are just pathetic, there's another invention that might be more handy - a laptop.*
"Most" leaves a few that are decent. I also fail to see how a laptop would be more suitable. Yes, it has a keyboard built-in, but it also has less battery life, higher price, more weight and more distractions/maintenance. If you value THOSE things, a laptop is a non starter. If you don't, by all means, get a laptop.
>But then again, ergonomically, laptops are of course not the ideal writing machine either (can't believe I really feel the need to point that out).
Really? I'd argue that 90% of professional writers use laptops just fine. Desktops are a dead category, laptops have been overselling desktop machines for several years now. I fail to see how "ergonomically" a laptop is not the "ideal writing machine" . Actually, you keep using this word, ergonomically. I don't think it means what you think it means.
>Lots and lots of people have created media (and even programs) on their iPads
I have read a few articles about people creating documents and programs on their iPads. The one thing they have in common is they use external keyboards. No one uses the on screen keyboard for that kind of work.
That we are hearing of things "created only on an iPad" is often only because they are not the most efficient means of creating those things in the first place. Otherwise it wouldn't really have been news.
Yep. There is even an undicoverable swipe gesture accros the keyboard (just like grandparent suggest Apple would not do): To split the keyboard into two, do a unpinch gesture (two fingers start in the middle, one goes to the right, the other to the left).
I don't think the OP is proposing to phase out the current method of navigating and selecting text, but rather adding an additional shortcut for people who do a lot of text editing.
So the question you have to ask is "will this get in the way of beginners and/or casual users?". Precisely because it's so unobtrusive and non-discoverable, I think the answer is "no".
Like the multitasking gestures on the iPad (which will never entirely replace the home button), this would be a complement to the intuitive, consistent and metaphorical (but inefficient) method of selecting text currently.
In fact precisely positioning a cursor is very nearly unworkable as a direct-manipulation task, since the target is so much smaller than a fingertip.
I think the OP makes this point, in a very subtle way, by closing the app using the four finger pinch at the end, which is a not discoverable, not obvious, advanced feature which, I'm sure, not a lot of people use.
The holding the plus button in safari to reopen closed tabs was not intuitive at all and there was no subtle wiggle or other in iPad thing to show that it was even there.
Why not have this be a setting that you can turn on? Or have the two ways to edit text on at the same time? There are two ways to input text right now with the voice recognition and the keyboard so why not two ways to select text?
Discoverability is just one of several problems I mentioned above. Remote cursor manipulation, etc, are all against the grain. Taken together they lead me to think this is not in line with the type of thing Apple would do.
It is important to give suggestions rather than refuting existing proposals. I think we all will agree that Apple's current iPad keyboard design is broken. So, what do you suggest? It is easy to criticize or find fault with suggestions that others are giving. What is tough though, and that adds real value to any conversation, is what do you suggest and your reasons for it.
> It utterly destroys the direct manipulation illusion of the iPad.
If you accept that a virtual keyboard is direct manipulation, can you accept that swiping the virtual keyboard is analogous to pressing the arrow keys on a physical keyboard? Then it's all the same stuff. Illusion barely broken, if at all.
Good points, though I don't agree that Metaphore is an important criteria. It's intuition that's important, and metaphore is just one way to aid intuition. Metro design guidelines even advise against using metaphore in favor of being authentically digital.
I admire the effort but I don't think Apple will (or should) go for it. iOS is a direct manipulation interface. Swiping over the keyboard to move the cursor around another part of the screen is really counter to that.
What would make more sense is to add faster direct manipulation gestures. There's opportunity for that, without throwing out the whole paradigm.
For example, today to select a range of text you:
1. Tap-and-hold to bring up the cursor magnifying glass
2. Let go to bring up the context menu
3. Tap "select" from the menu
4. Drag one of the endpoints to one end of the selection
5. Adjust the other endpoint if necessary
But why not this?
1. Tap-and-hold to bring up the cursor magnifying glass
2. While holding, use a second finger to drag out the desired selection!
The keyboard is already breaking the direct manipulation paradigm -- you type at the bottom of the screen and text appears somewhere else. This feature is useful exactly because it's not direct manipulation. You are typing text; being able to control the cursor while doing that is brilliant. Tapping the screen is pretty much equivalent to, on the desktop, taking your hands off the keyboard and using the mouse.
I don't have an iPad but I do have an iPhone and I've found cursor manipulation to be a very frustrating experience. Trying to manipulate the address bar in Safari, for example, makes me want to pull out my hair. The cursor control just isn't fine enough.
It's sort of nick-picking at this point, but I don't think your point is valid. Sure you press an A and you get an A up where the cursor is. You swipe your finger and you get movement up where the cursor is. It's not really all that different.
It's night-and-day different. I think you confused "direct manipulation" with "nothing can happen elsewhere except where I tap."
Direct manipulation UIs are about interactions that correspond to the physical world. Tapping on a virtual keyboard does exactly that. Swiping your finger across a virtual keyboard makes no sense at all.
Anyway, turns out iOS already had faster text selection gestures and we just didn't know. (See hej's comment.)
Double-tap any text you are editing in order to select a word. That also allows you to drag the endpoints. Tapping with two fingers selects the whole paragraph.
In short: Tapping places the cursor (and brings up the keyboard if it isn’t already up), double-tapping selects a word, tapping with two fingers selects a paragraph. I couldn’t find any other gestures.
If you you double-tap and hold, you can immediately change the selection, but you are anchored to the word you selected (i.e. you can add characters to the left or the right but not both). Tapping and holding with two fingers allows you to change both endpoints with your two fingers.
Web views (and most other views of text you cannot edit) don’t work like that. In those, you tap and hold to select text. It’s a bit inconsistent, though: in iBooks (for example), tapping with two fingers will select whole paragraphs.
Very cool. This would imply there is a superfast method to select a paragraph and extend to two paragraphs: Doubletap with two fingers, then drag up/down. But unfortunately, this doesn't work (it starts scrolling instead). I would hope that Apple implements this as well.
This is very interesting, and a really great concept, but I don't think a feature request 'bug report' is the best way to go about this, Apple are extremely unresponsive to feedback, even when you're reporting legitimate bugs.
A better thing to do would be to go out, make it, and get it on as many Android and jailbroken Apple devices as possible. Make it a 'must have' jailbreak app. It worked for notifications. If it's something that makes Android tablets easier to type on than the iPad that'll get their attention too.
Just because they don't publicly respond doesn't mean filing the bug report is a bad thing. Increasing the number of reports causes the problem to receive more focus (and visibility) internally. That said, I don't necessarily think that's the most appropriate way to promote this idea.
I would like to try it myself on a device first.
I hope the developer is willing to either:
a.) open source his demo so other devs can try it
b.) publish the demo in the App Store (or Cydia if Apple says no)
It doesn't even have to go that far - build an editor à la ia Writer  or, if willing to dive deeper, an email client. This gives you protection over the intellectual property and acquisition for technology or aqui-hire potential.
This guy is really smart. Add to the fact that he's seems to be offering this purely in an altruistic (non-profit) way is beyond cool. Maybe with Apple's bags of cash they should simply "buy" his idea anyway. Imagine the number of people this could affect in a positive way. So simple.
Editing text on my Android is much easier than on my iPad. I don't know why Apple goes out of its way to make it so hard. And the Apple on-screen keyboard with its CAPITALS-ONLY display is inferior to others as well.
The point is to attack the straw man of the oft-repeated "failing" of an all-caps virtual keyboard. You often see the claim that this is some obvious, horrible design flaw or even - bizarrely - confusing. I hate to say it, but usually you hear this from anti-Apple types.
It clearly is not confusing, as it is the same as every physical keyboard, and that is the point made in the parent. The claim is not "virtual keyboards should be identical to physical keyboards" any more than others are claiming "virtual keyboards should have nothing in common with physical keyboards".
Possibly shifting the case would be better, possibly not (is having the text jumping around helpful? Isn't the keyboard doing the minimal number of UI changes required to indicate what will happen? Does the international keyboard key literally print a globe?)
Completely agree. The only indication of Shift being pressed is the blue glow on the button itself, which is usually covered by your hand while typing. I often have to remove my hands again to see if I pressed Shift or missed it.
> Using both an Android device and an iPad daily... the all caps keyboard is a failing...
Using both an iPhone and a rooted Kindle, and being a computer user for approx. 18 years, I've got enough experience on the keyboard to know that a given key will always produce a lower case character unless caps is on or shift is pressed.
This is not a difficult concept, anyone with any kind of computer use in their background knows this intuitively.
The only difficulty comes in with telling if shift is engaged or not, due to the complete lack of tactile feedback. But this is more damning of all touchscreen devices, rather than just a certain fruit company.
The shift key clearly indicates it's status. Much like the Caps Lock key on a real keyboard. But both answers that a vaguely pro-iOS keyboard have had the downvote-disagree game played, fairly obvious fanboy-ism.
It is a trade-off. I said that above. Personally I think a trivial concept that every computer user in the world is already used to has some value in staying the same. When I first used the Android keyboard I found it ugly and distracting, and not at all "easier". Exactly the kind of thing that Apple tends to hate. Note the absence of downvotes I give to people who don't agree :S
The worst part of editing text on iOS is getting the cursor somewhere in the middle of a string. It's just a nightmare to accomplish. Android's solution was to add arrow keys, but
for some reason they felt out of place when typing to me. Love this concept. Hopefully it'll eventually make its way onto handsets.
So presumably he's filed for a patent on this technique? (Yes I'm being serious)
This is obviously a HUGE win. I agree that cursor motion really really sucks. And if there was an App that added this feature to the keyboard (is there?) then I'd certainly pay 0.99 for it. So that leaves me wondering about the whole viral bug report thing.
If I was being cynical I'd suggest that a there is probably a pending patent on it, and as soon as it is implemented blam! out comes the troll looking for his payout. While this seems crass and cynical in the tech world in the world of scripts and movies it is apparently a known, and defended against, tactic. Production companies being explicit to never suggest any ideas because doing so with out them asking (and pre-establishing the rights ownership thing) might leave them open to a 'stolen idea' lawsuit).
About a year ago, I actually had a very similar idea to the one shown in the demo. I like this one better – mine used individual swipes to move letter by letter, two-fingered swipes to move one word at a time. The "analog" motion in the demo feels more natural and allows for much faster navigation.
I took another look at the US patent process (having never patented any inventions in my 2009 desktop interaction concept), with a vague plan of "shopping" it around were it to be granted, but the cost versus the timeframe, combined with the slightly scummy feeling of trying to monetize a patent without actually building anything, ultimately stopped me.
If the latter of those reasons doesn't stop the author of this demo from springing some kind of patent trap, the former probably will.
I may be mistaken, but I don't think it's possible for an iOS app's keyboard to become the "system" keyboard. In other words, you could make a text-editing app with a keyboard using this feature, but it would only be usable within that text-editing app.
Have there ever been any court cases where patents have been invalidated or upheld based on any flavor of existing copyleft licenses? And is there any way to apply GPL to the kind of broad concepts which are successfully patented ("One Click Purchase", as opposed to "OnceClickFramework::BuyNowFunction")?
Oh god I want this, or something similar to it. Because that little lens that pops up is a TOTAL PAIN IN THE BUTT when you keep your fingernails long; the close-up on the cursor is usually hidden by my fingernail. Every time I use my Nexus One to edit text, and move the cursor around with the trackball, it's like heaven compared to my iPad. (IMHO the stock Android autocorrect is also a ton better than IOS - I really hate that tiny little blue text that pops up beneath a word, and I hate iOS's refusal to let you go back and edit out its miscorrections even more.)
I've only had something like this happen once before, when I tried using some third-party controller hanging around a friend's office to try the game he was working on, and physically could not press the buttons because of a little ridge just above them, positioned perfectly to catch my thumbnail when I brought my thumb down.
tl,dr: if your product involves people poking at it, find a person with long fingernails and see if she can use it.
I like it, but it's not perfect. First of all, I don’t think dragging one finger on the keyboard should have any effect. The iPad’s current keyboard is very forgiving when I mis-press a key initially and move my finger to the right key. This should not cause the cursor to move. An easy adaptation of this solution would be to just use the two finger gesture for moving the text (if you want to move it faster, just use the “tap and refine” strategy I mentioned earlier).
Additionally, I wonder how text selection would work when typing with one hand. I rarely use an iPad the way it is shown here, laying on a table in landscape mode. Perhaps in addition to using shift, holding the two finger gesture could also initiate “select mode”. That way, selection can more easily be done using one hand.
This looks great! The lack of cursor movement keys is probably the biggest problem with text editing on the iPad.
Textastic on the iPad also has a great idea: they've implemented (not sure how) an extended keyboard, with an extra row of 5-way keys. Tap them and they give you the character in the middle of the key, touch and swipe towards one of the four corners and you get the character on that corner instead. It's amazing how much quicker this makes editing. The one thing it's missing is cursor movement keys (they have Home and End, but nothing finer grained), so I'd love to see it combined with features like those in the video.
From a development perspective, the keyboard is just another view. You can subclass it, or if that's been made unneccesarily difficult, you can just create your own custom keyboard view from scratch. Several apps in the App Store already take this approach.
I bet there are a great deal of people like me that don't use / purchase tables because of the poor keyboard experience. With a real keyboard I can type fast, faster than I can speak, faster than I can write using a pen. My interaction with a computer always was this way: my ideas can flow fast to the form of text, code, emails, and so forth. With the iPad I feel dumb, because I'm no longer fast enough, and I refuse this kind of interaction. However the new text editing proposed on this story fixes part of the problem, but not all unfortunately, still it's a great step forward.
Because stylus' are another thing to keep track of, easy to lose, and it's not seamless to switch between touch input and stylus. And people don't handwrite all that much faster than they can type on a virtual keyboard.
The qwerty keyboard was designed to prevent the jamming of metallic parts of a typewriter. Surely it's time to put this metaphor behind us? People have migrated easily from typewriters to computer keyboards, and from pianos to synthesizers (depending on the synthesizer) but neither metaphor works effectively for a touch screen. A touch screen is unable to provide the necessary physical feedback to let the instrument 'flow'. Even using the finger as a cursor doesn't work anywhere near as well as a mouse or a stylus when editing text.
Touch devices require a breakthrough in text input if they are ever to become useful for creative output of large chunks of text. We all learned to SMS using a 12 button mobile phone pad in the '90s, people have spent months and years learning vim and emacs (despite their lack of intuitivity, consistency and metaphor), why can't we get away from qwerty keyboards today?
I don't have any suggestions, but people must be coming up with better non-qwerty ideas all the time. Where are they?
One of those cases where relative rather than absolute manipulation is a big advantage. I could see this being a nice feature on PCs as well (modifier key + mouse movement to change text cursor position, rather than precisely moving the mouse pointer and clicking where desired).
I don't understand why this person thinks spamming Apple's bug tracker will increase the chances of it being implemented. It's not a bug.
I don't understand why this person cares whether or not Apple agrees with them. The whole point of having a device capable of universal computation is to be able to make it do what you want without other people's permission.
A better use of time would be to implement this functionality for a computer that wasn't actively hostile to end-user extension. Android software keyboards sell quite a bit I believe.
It looks like this person put a lot of thought into how text editing could be improved in iOS, and the video is well-made. However, a great feature of the iOS keyboard is that if you press the wrong key, if your finger is still on the key, you can drag it over to the key you intended to use. Has he taken this into account? It would be pretty frustrating if I made an almost-typo, and instead of inputting the intended character, my cursor moved around.
Dragging up on the comma and the period give you ' and " respectively. I'm not seeing what you're saying on clicking E and dragging to T. Doesn't seem to do anything here.
I find the iPad's text editing to be one of the biggest flaws of the device. Even on short things, like this comment, there's invariably some point where I've mistyped something by putting a space in one character early, and the only reasonable way I've found to correct it is to retype both words.
First few results are about "attaching" Bluetooth keyboards. Not wired USB keyboards. Then there's a Wired story about how overpriced iPad compatible wired keyboards are. So I take it the answer is generally no. My conclusion is the intent of the out-of-the-box iPad is not to let you type. I guess it's sort of like a self-service grocery checkout machine: just touch the big buttons. Could be useful to buy stuff online I guess. But hardly sounds like a real computer you can program.
First few results are about "attaching" Bluetooth keyboards. Not USB. Then there's a Wired story about how overpriced iPad compatible wired keyboards are. So I take it the answer is generally no. My conclusion is the intent of the out-of-the-box iPad is not to let you type. Which is a very interesting design decision.
Your third line starts with "If you can't attach a keyboard..." and the answer is that you can. For the purposes of typing I don't see why you'd care if it was USB or Bluetooth nor whether it's physically attached or wireless.
I could implement this pretty easily in an app or as a library that people use as a replacement for the existing keyboard. So while I could not fix built-in apps, it could be a nice fix for downloadable apps. The only question is if I build it, would people come?
I haven't had a chance to use it much but I definitely think it's an improvement over the existing mechanism. I already had some extra keys for cursor movement similar to those of IA Writer but this is better for moving across multiple characters.
I ran into a problem with the two-finger gesture, which is that Apple already use this for putting the keyboard into a split mode (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyQTkZjvSok). So I'm currently figuring out how do deal with that without preventing people from using the split keyboard. I've emailed the guy who did the video about how he did his implementation but haven't heard back yet.
Hmm, interesting- didn't know about the split-keyboard thing (I'm only on iPhone).
I've been thinking about what else might be an alternative but am coming up short. More than 2 fingers would be impractical on an iPhone.
Question: In the video you linked to, the split-keyboard gesture looks quite specific... 2 separate fingers dragging away from or toward one another. I guess it's asking too much to hope that the device could distinguish between this kind of dragging and scroll-style dragging (2 fingers together, same direction)?
BTW I'm assuming this'll be up in the next beta sometime? Would love to play with it.
I'm pretty sure I'll be able to solve this by testing that both fingers are moving in the same direction (you have to move them apart to split the keyboard), and filtering some of the touch events before they reach the application if necessary.
And yes this will be in the next beta. I still have to finish off the styles and table stuff but will hopefully have it ready in a few days.
As an enthusiastic owner of all three iPad models, I've found that "wanting a keyboard" is a very good sign that whatever you're doing isn't a good fit for the iPad.
With that said, here's an iOS feature that'd be very easy to implement: application-level "passthrough" mode for physical keyboards. Not only would it allow for better "traditional" editors, the fact that iOS doesn't rely on the keyboard for OS-level navigation would make it a perfect vehicle for VNC and RDP clients with "transparent" keyboard support.
I could understand Apple prohibiting the use of such an API for accelerators "merely" to discourage half-assed ports of traditional WIMP apps, but why not allow the use of a physical keyboard as an "IT controller" just as they permit external controllers for games? It's simply unreasonable to insist that developers build a more "touch-based" interface to fundamentally non-touch-based remote systems, and nearly as unreasonable to expect professional programmers to adapt to a "touch-based" UI paradigm for _editing text_. The fact that the Cocoa text edit controls play well with Emacs-style key bindings is, for me at least, a HUGE advantage of OS X, one that'd be very hard to usefully duplicate in Windows.
Some people complain about swiping over the keys? Then add a scrollpad at the bottom of the keyboard where you can perform the same swipe to place the cursor. And use the shift key to select, same as the video.
I hear a lot of complaints about the autocomplete, but it definitely makes me way more productive. It correctly fixed 6 words so far in this comment even. And, it can be disabled. Why hate on it? (there were 3 more fixes :) )
My problem with the autocomplete is it loves "fixing" words it doesn't know. I never had this problem with the autocorrect in SwiftKey on Android, which was always really good at know when it was wanted and when I was typing something else.
The other thing I hate about autocorrect is how I have to move my finger to the other side of the screen to say "no I don't want to correct to that". Android keyboards put the correction suggestions right above the keyboard for quick access. I have toubles typing the tiny blue "x" on the iPhone, and half the time accept the incorrect correction by mistake.
Taken together with the small screen, this making typing on an iPhone massively more frustrating than to the Android I switched from.
Indeed, and most of the time, it prefills the correct word for me so I just have to press space instead of five more characters.
People seem to hold a grudge for autocorrect from the times of T9 prediction, because they keep typing in shortened text language and because they feel they lack control. This feeling is reinforced when you first use iOS as the autocorrect system comes with a generic pre-trained prediction database that might feel jarring at first, yet the system will learn progressively from you as you type, including virtual key sizes.
In my own implementation I've added a movement threshold, so it only starts moving the cursor after you've moved your finger a certain number of pixels (currently 44) from the point at which you originally put it down. I've found this avoids problems of accidental cursor movement.
Why would you waste effort implementing this on an iPad? The developer must know that it's not possible to distribute and that it's extraordinarily unlikely that Apple would make an exeception or utilize it themselves.
Meanwhile, it probably would have sold tens of thousands of copies in the Android Market already.
edit: Wow, the article even includes futile instructions to spam Apple's feature tracker. I'm sure they appreciate that move.
How does that have anything to do with improving the iPad's existing type functionality?
Plus, my mom (and I assume many, many others) has completely switched over to an iPad and manages all of her emails on it. I'm sure she'd appreciate better editing features. I myself use my iPad to do some light email managing when I'm out, and I too have issues with how tedious editing text is; so an improvement is more than welcomed.
I write emails and messages using both my iPad and my iPhone and would argue that such activity (which includes editing text) is an intended use case. Anything that increases how easy it is to do this is a huge win for both the users and Apple.
Editing text does not exclusively mean writing code or long documents. I and many others do a large chunk of casual web browsing, email, and messaging from iOS devices. Having better cursor movement to go back and fix a mistyped URL or quickly select a block of text from an email would be a huge improvement over the existing clunky behavior.
That said, I do not think there is anything wrong with using an iOS device for heavier text editing either. It is currently more inefficient than a laptop, but new interfaces may one day make it just as efficient as a traditional keyboard for text entry and manipulation.
Very often all I have is an iPhone and maybe an iPad. I don't do enough hardcore editing to justify carrying around a laptop anymore. So I would definitely welcome better text editing features on iOS even if it's not the best tool for the job. It's funny because I originally thought the text input via touch would be the biggest problem but I'm now crazy fast with it. It's the editing that really slows me down.