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How text editing on the iPad should be (idownloadblog.com)
436 points by superchink 1032 days ago | comments



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.

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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".

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They're great media consumption devices.

Sorry, but this is a lazy and trite assertion. They are a extremely useful tools for visual designers and musicians for a start.

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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.

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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.

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So much is dependent on the app. It's hard to discuss the iPad without tacitly including the entire associated software ecosystem (without really being conscious of the scope of that oversight).

I agree with your main point, and I have no doubt that as the medium continues to expand, the quality of the software and interaction will also grow.

Just curious, what visual design apps are you using / would you recommend?

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Paper from FiftyThree[1] 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[2].

[1]http://www.fiftythree.com/paper [2]http://mattgemmell.com/2012/05/02/ipad-productivity-apps/

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>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.

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to finish off on your Mac.

I think you just reinforced the parent's point.

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@nhangen

>I think you just reinforced the parent's point.

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."

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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.

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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.

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Musicians?? How?

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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 [1]

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)

[1] http://www.nme.com/news/gorillaz/53816

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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.

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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.

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http://thefall.gorillaz.com/

(More details: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/dec/25/damon-albarn-fal...)

I believe the final mix was done elsewhere but it was largely written and performed on the iPad.

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Both of these apps are incredibly useful for using the ipad as a controller:

1. http://liine.net/en/products/lemur/

2. http://hexler.net/software/touchosc

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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.

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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.

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>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):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gDF4ocLhQM&feature=playe...!

Which was acquired by Google:

http://business2press.com/2010/10/01/google-blindtype-acquis...

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> Lots and lots of people have created media (and even programs) on their iPads.

Lots and lots of people have created programs in ed on a teletype. Something being possible doesn't equate to it being efficient.

> Really? What exactly can't be fixed?

Good, intuitive text editing with an on screen keyboard.

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>Lots and lots of people have created programs in ed on a teletype. Something being possible doesn't equate to it being efficient.

The difference is people have created content EFFICIENTLY on the iPad, including people that would not even know what button to press to start a PC so to speak.

>Good, intuitive text editing with an on screen keyboard.

"Good" is subjective. If we are talking "words per minute", something like BlindType (see my link above) shows that writing with an on screen keyboard can be improved in major ways.

Not to mention that nobody said you can only use the on screen keyboard.

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Talk about being in a reality distortion field.

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.

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>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.

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>Also a "fanboy", right?

Yes.

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).

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>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" [citation needed]. Actually, you keep using this word, ergonomically. I don't think it means what you think it means.

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> Not to mention that nobody said you can only use the on screen keyboard.

Since the topic of discussion was how on screen keyboards compared to physical ones, I assumed we were talking about on screen keyboards.

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including people that would not even know what button to press to start a PC so to speak.

Could you please cite some examples of textual content created efficiently on the ipad's on-screen keyboard by authors who can't start a personal computer?

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>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.

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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.

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Apple is doing a lot of undiscoverable things like that :

- focus to remove an app (people learn that from others )

- splitted keyboard left & right has invisible virtual keys

- double tab the button for process

- kill process by focusing on a process ( very useful when an app has crased, yet undiscoverable )

- double tab then slide left for volume

- screenshot with power + button

- take a photo with the volume button

Hidden features are very Apple-esque

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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).

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Hidden features are just a way to implement adaptive interfaces right? As the user learns and discovers, the interface has more and more advanced features.

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Not to mention a long touch to start a zoom cursor. I think its pretty arguable that thats more intuitive.

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> - kill process by focusing on a process ( very useful when an app has crased, yet undiscoverable )

no. especially if the app crashed all you are doing is removing the icon from the list.

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I think he's talking about when an app is in a bad state, and you can kill it to force a cold launch. If the app truly crashed it would cold launch anyway.

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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.

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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.

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I'd love to know if you're correct on this. Because if you are, then the OP has a flair for subtle, yet relevant visual cues that borders on the precient.

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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?

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This is just one example of a host of undiscoverable features lurking in many of Apple's touch interfaces. (Triple home button taps, anyone?) I could see them implementing this, and I hope they do.

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Triple home button taps are not meant to be used by everyday users, but visually impaired users who come to use that as they learn to use their devices.

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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.

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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.

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I don't agree that it's broken. The UI they have fits nicely within the constraints I mentioned. When I want to type quickly, I have a bluetooth keyboard.

The issue I have with the iPad keyboard is the way autosuggest works, not sure if that's related, but that's for another post.

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I agree but I think it makes more sense as an "Advanced" option which can be turned on and off.

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hey minikomi, i would love to get in touch with you. some of your comments on here are very intriguing. what's the best way to get in touch?

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Hey man my handle at gmail dot com

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cool, dropped you an email.

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> 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.

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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.

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A great many of Apple UIs fail those tests.

The main problem with this one is discoverability, but since most gestures are essentially undiscoverable, that hardly impugns it.

I think this is an excellent idea.

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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!
Now that's something Apple might actually go for.

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> iOS is a direct manipulation interface.

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.

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Precisely. Direct-manipulation text input would be handwriting recognition á la the Newton MessagePad.

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not quite: You directly press 'A' you get an 'A'. You want to move the cursor you directly press where you want it.

In the model above you press this area of letter buttons and slide your finger and some unrelated thing 'the cursor' moves around.

Maybe that's okay but it's not direct like the current UX

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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.

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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.)

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A 2-finger solution probably wouldn't work so well on the iPad, and especially not on the iPhone. Consistency across devices is a pattern that Apple clearly follows.

I agree however that the method in the video is not so feasible either, for exactly your reasoning.

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It’s blow your mind time. Ready?

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.

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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.

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Oh, thanks! Did not know that. That's even faster than the workflow in the video. :-)

Someone should do a video like this showing all the native gestures. Maybe there is one but a quick google search doesn't find it for me.

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Bizarrely, two fingered tap only seems to work on editable text, not read only. So you cannot use it to select text on a Web page or a received e-mail.

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Is there a way to select a point within a word, such as just after the first character? If there is, if just not seeing it.

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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.

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Android is already much easier to select text with. The arrow under the text that you drag is just so much easier than the magnifying glass that is just cumbersome and awkward to use.

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iOS allows you to select text using markers that are dragged as well:. The blue markers you see in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw2Y7FP8qko can be dragged to change the selection area.

The magnifying glass is used to set the exact cursor position, and can be invaluable when trying to position the cursor between similar looking letters on a mobile device.

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Text editing and selection on my iPad is a pretty shitty experience compared to my Android v2.3 phone...

There's lots of web pages where it's impossible to select text (sometimes turning off JS helps) on the iPad but the phone does it fine.

In some HTML text boxes it's just impossible to edit anything.

Selecting characters within a word is painful, it's far easier on the phone as it has an optical cursor - later Android phones have dropped this so I wonder if they're painful too.

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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)

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It doesn't even have to go that far - build an editor à la ia Writer [1] 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.

[1] http://www.iawriter.com/

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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.

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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.

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Capitals only? You mean like almost all physical keyboards ever made?

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By your reasoning, virtual keyboards should only have one keyboard layout as well. Why should virtual keyboards be limited by what's obviously a manufacturing constraint?

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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?)

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Using both an Android device and an iPad daily... the all caps keyboard is a failing...

Having a keyboard that represents what your about to type is much friendlier - you can also see what character you get if you hold the key down with many Android keyboards.

Then we have the clusterfuck of the ,. keys, which show !? on them but if you hold them down you get '"

The iPad keyboard is far from perfect...

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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.

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> 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.

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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

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You can tell when shift is engaged on an Android touchscreen device quite easily: the characters on the virtual keyboard appear in uppercase.

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But using a touchscreen keyboard and a physical keyboard is subtlely different...

On a physical keyboard I hardly ever look at the keys as I type, when I want an uppercase character I'm generally performing two simultaneous actions - holding down shit and pressing the other key.

A touchscreen keyboard is much more of a visual experience, I tend to look at the keys I'm about to type rather than doing it by feel / knowing position.

The Android keyboard (on my phone) shows me what character I get if I hold down the key whereas with the iOS on I have to learn them.

I've been using QWERTY keyboard since Commodore Pets in school and ZX81 at home so it's not like I'm note used to a real keyboard!

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Appeal to tradition. Most physical keyboards don't have dynamic displays.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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> an App that added this feature to the keyboard (is there?)

This seems... not possible to do via an app.

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Um, why not? Before copy/paste was introduced, text editing apps introduced features to provide that functionality. And the video shows it is clearly possible.

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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.

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You are totally correct. On android, however, its another story and something like this could be implemented and used on a "system" keyboard.

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I don't think he meant as a global replacement. just a custom keyboard for within the app as a demo

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That's right.

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Ok, check this : http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sec...

Since soft keyboards have a ZILLION patents on them there is very little 'innovation' room. I'd wager these guys in Singapore would claim ownership of this 'feature' if their patent issues.

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FastEver does something similar, you swipe the screen and the cursor moves on spot in the directions you swipe.

Look under features: "Swipe to move cursor (iOS4 or later)" http://rakkoentertainment.com/fastever/

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Well, its in the public domain now. So if it isn't patent pending, its not patentable.

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  So presumably he's filed for a patent on this technique?
Selecting text on a computer should not be patentable. But I bet it probably is because of how stupid the patent system is.

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It's a shame there are so many legal costs and constraints to applying for patents; we badly need a patent equivalent to copyleft.

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We do. It's called the GPLv3.

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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")?

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I think it's sad people let Apple be their paranoid abusive parent. This developer can't even make his own keyboard app.

Look at Swype on Android, it's both excellent and usable on any phone. There are tons of other alternative text input apps to choose from, too.

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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.

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned how this feature was implemented in the Palm Pre/Pixi a few years ago. That was one of my favorite little things about WebOS.

When editing text, you held down the Orange key and then drag your finger anywhere on the screen and the cursor followed. And to select text, you did the same thing with the Shift key instead.

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The problem, though, is that I still had to take my hands off the keyboard. This doesn't require me to.

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That's only because those devices didn't have an onscreen keyboard...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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If you have a jailbroken iPad, you can get a five-row keyboard in any app with "iKeyWi HD for iPad", and it includes cursor keys: http://www.ipadforums.net/jailbreak-applications-tweaks/6968...

SwipeShiftCaret is also a nice little tweak for typing better on iOS - it lets you swipe on the screen (although not on the keyboard) to move the cursor one character at a time: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2012/02/10/swipeshiftcaret/

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I'm not sure if it was supported before iOS 5, but there is an API which you can use to add a subview above the keyboard view.

It would be used for adding next/previous/done buttons to help navigate forms, for example. What Textastic does appears to be a more innovative or unique example.

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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.

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A stylus type pen device would be the best alternative to touch typing on a touch screen.

This is currently available for touch devices but not that frequently used. I am not sure why?

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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.

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The new Samsung Note comes with a S-Pen that I believe retracts into the device. The Samsung Galaxy SII works with a stylus. Early tablets (from the 90s) came with similar pointing/writing devices.

Do people type faster because of predictive text?

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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?

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I'm rather fond of the MessagEase keyboard on Android: http://www.exideas.com/ME/index.php

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The solution is simple: an optical trackball.

The HTC Incredible has one. So do Blackberrys. It does exactly what the OP is asking for.

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Don't forget some international keyboards, such as the Japanese Kana one, rely on swipe gestures to input characters.

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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).

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I've wanted this for ages, especially now that I do everything with a trackpad right below the keyboard. (I wish I was a better Cocoa dev.)

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I don't have and have never used an iPad.

When I watched this video I was thinking "You mean this isn't how iPad typing works already?"

If I had an iPad, and typing worked this way, I wouldn't even notice it as a thing. Of course it would do this.

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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.

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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.

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The behaviour you described is specific to the iPhone. On the iPad, if you press on one key and move to another, it releases the original key and ignores the key press.

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Well, I stand (somewhat) corrected!

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Also if you press and hold a key, list of accented/alternative characters is opened. Anyway, OP has lovely idea, just the first trigger has to be tuned a bit. Maybe holding and dragging the space key?

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This seems U.S. centric. Isn't drag on keys used to select accents? Maybe some subtle timing thing make decide did you want the accent menu or did you want to move the cursor.

Dragging is also currently a correction thing. You can press 'E' then drag to 'T' if you that's what you meant. I don't know how many people use that feature though.

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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.

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My bad, dragging E to T is an iPhone thing. It doesn't do it on iPad. I had assumed they were the same. They're not.

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Can you attach a real USB keyboard to the iPad?

(Note the project on Kickstarter that seeks to make and iPad look like a MacBook.)

If you can't attach a keyboard, why did they do this? (The) iPad would make a good portable display.

Of course, an iPad makes a good coffee table piece. Pick it up, touch the screen, gaze at it, put it down. Wow, amazing.

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http://www.google.com/search?q=ipad+attach+keyboard

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ah, the classic "Why would you want to do that?" response.

If it's an uphill battle to attach a USB keyboard, I'm not interested.

Whatever display quality Apple has achieved with the iPad will soon enough be standard in all displays.

Apple's overpriced products are considered "obsolete" soon after you buy them anyway- they just release a better version months later for the same or a lesser price.

I'm happy to watch the tablet fad come and go. Meanwhile a portable display would be nice.

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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?

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This looks awesome; I'm just in the process of adding this to my own writing app right now. I have cursor movement working and am just getting onto the selection mechanism.

Should be finished in couple more hours. Anyone want to test it out and give me some feedback once I'm done?

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Well that was quick ;)

In principle really like the idea of something like this- especially in the context of an app like yours where you're targeting long-document writers.

How's it feel to use in practice? I kind of liked the suggestion elsewhere here about needing 2 fingers to do the scrolling to prevent the cursor from accidentally running away.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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This is great. Apple's Bug Reporter UI is not so great: http://f.cl.ly/items/2G0o0n391o1V3b003C1v/Screen%20Shot%2020...

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Holy crap! I can't believe how antiquated that page looks. If I photoshopped the "© 2012" to "© 2002" I think I could convince people that your link was the one that had the copyright year forged

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I also can recommend a MUCH better way to input text into your apple device that works today. It looks a lot more like this: http://www.apple.com/macbookair/

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Sucks for coding, though; not enough RAM or screen space. This http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/specs-17inch.html is a much nicer option, especially with an SSD.

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.

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What do you mean by "passthrough mode"? External keyboards (Bluetooth or USB) already work with any text field.

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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 like that idea a lot.

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Android and Apple text editing is painful. The dreaded auto complete does not help things. I don't think this feature is as good as it can be.

It will be interesting to see how the bug reporter works in grabbing Apple's attention.

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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 :) )

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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.

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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.

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It's nice, but some arrow keys would be easier to understand for most people.

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Firefox on Windows already has this feature. (i don't think its a feature of windows because it doesn't work in other programs)

Try scrolling sidways with your touchpad when you have focus on the url-bar...

Hold control to scroll word by word.

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> Set the title to “Editing Text on iPad (duplicate of rdar://11365152)”

twitch

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How would you maintain consistency when it came to selecting text when the keyboard wasn't present? I like it otherwise. As everyone knows, selecting/etc text on iPad is a pain.

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I'm surprised nobody seems to be addressing how easy it would be to accidentally move the cursor while using the keyboard.

Neat idea, but I don't see it happening.

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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.

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Great idea!

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Can't you just make it as an app? Why would it have to be there by default?

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i wish there was vi mode for iOS. seriously it would work great

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Some corporation better not go out and patent this idea.

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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.

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Like it!

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Talk about wrong tool for the job.

I understand you spent a lot of money on the iPad. I don't understand the obsession with editing on it. If you need to edit text, then get a laptop.

Text editing is a round peg people keep trying to jam into an ipad's rectangular hole.

edit: I'm sorry you all spent so much money. You're still using the wrong tool.

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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.

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Sure. The ipad may never be the right tool to write a novel or business report.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't improve text editing so it's slightly less painful for email (and other applications that involve small amounts of text editing.)

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> You're still using the wrong tool

Although a pneumatic nailgun is faster than using a plain jane hammer, that doesn't make a hammer necessarily the wrong tool to use for a job.

Oh, and no one replying to you has said anything about money; only about your vague, substanceless remarks.

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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.

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Talk about short sighted.

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.

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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.

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as the old saying goes--the best text editor is the one you have with you.

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