Friday, December 07, 2012


Design — as Apple (of all companies) should know — is how it works. When Tim Cook was asked recently how adept he was at using Apple's virtual keyboard, he replied: "Pretty good. I think if you stick with it a little while you get quite good at it. And the auto correction is quite good." Ouch!

Apple's virtual keyboard suffers of course from a fundamental design flaw. It fails to adequately mimic an actual keyboard by splitting it into two discrete entities, the second of which sports the numbers and some much-used punctuation (such as the apostrophe and the hyphen). This becomes a difficult-to-ignore annoyance in message chats on my iPad and would be relatively easy to fix with a properly designed, replacement virtual keyboard. I'm aware of course that space/size concerns might limit what is reasonably possible but intelligent designers would figure out a way. The reason they have not done so (unless perhaps there is a design disconnect at Apple these days) surely is to steer folk into Apple's $70 wireless keyboard accessory solution!

So, in order to better enjoy my iPad Messages chats, I purchased an Apple wireless keyboard. The first thing I grappled with was why there wasn't an obvious on/off indicator light on the keyboard. This design flaw may be overcome by noting that the caps-lock light will not come on when the keyboard is off (an extra and surely unnecessary step). The second thing I dealt with is that there is no way to send my wireless-keyboard typed blurbs without touching the Send button on the iPad. This is of course an easily fixed software limitation — except that Apple hasn't addressed the issue in the several years that people have been complaining about it! Maybe Apple really has lost its design moxie.

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