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The Secret to Mastering the iPhone Keyboard


I won’t bore with another diatribe about how amazing the iPhone is – the product speaks for itself. I will, however, address one of the more common complaints about the device: the keyboard. For the most part, naysayers seem to prefer the tactile response of a hardware, Blackberry-style keyboard. I can absolutely sympathize with this, as I owned a T-Mobile Sidekick before my iPhone, which also had the hardware keyboard. The iPhone keyboard definitely took some getting used to, but I think I’ve got a handle on the single best advice to offer somebody having trouble acclimating to the touchscreen keyboard. Ready?

Stop trying to achieve pinpoint accuracy on a tiny keyboard with fingers that are large and blunt-tipped. Your best bet is to type quickly, attempting to plant your finger somewhere in the general vicinity of the letter you’re trying to press. If you get reasonably close, the device will auto-correct your spelling errors quite effectively. The only key that you must hit accurately every time is the space bar.

iPhone’s auto spelling correction works based on the number of letters you type. In other words, if you type “basball”, it won’t know what to do with it (a quick test reveals that it won’t offer any correction at all for this particular example). But, if you type “bassball”, it will suggest “baseball”, as you’d expect. It also appears to take into consideration the proximity of the letters on the keyboard (which is what makes the technique I’m describing so effective). Some quick poking around would indicate that it will actually activate a key adjacent to the one you’re trying to press if it makes a valid English word (or whatever language you happen to be typing in – I can’t speak for other locales/languages).

I defy anybody to, without having to backspace, type the following sequence of characters on their iPhone and have it register correctly: “dozr”. I’ve been trying this for the past 5 minutes and neither my wife nor I could do it. Go ahead, I’ll wait :)

So, the auto-correction is actually pretty smart, which means you can trust it to activate the letter you want and correct you when you miss it!

Obviously, this will only hold true if you’re typing dictionary words. Symbols, proper names, etc. will not fall under this rule and you should take more care when typing them. Otherwise, go nuts. Seriously, give this a try and I think you’ll be surprised by the results. But, let me reiterate, for the auto-correction to work, correct spacing is imperative.

Oh, and I’m not for a second promising that you’ll be typing 100 words per minute with 0 mistakes if you follow my advice – you’re stilling typing “hunt-and-peck” style with your thumbs on a device that’s smaller than your hand, so mistakes will be made. But definitely give yourself a few days to get used to this!

I’m curious to hear of anybody else with cool hacks or tricks they used to become more proficient typists (or even navigators) of the iPhone. Sound off in the comments, please!

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