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Improving the iPad keyboard

I have been thinking more about the on-screen iPad keyboard and think I see a way it could be greatly improved.

First, the problem. Neither Apple nor app developers know what we need from a keyboard. We don't even know ourselves because our needs can vary even within the same application. I might use Notepad or SimpleNote to write a letter, a small Perl script or a hand crafted HTML page - my keyboard needs will be different within each.

Or say I'm using the iSSH app (and I do, often). I might be ssh'ed to a command line or VNCed to a client. If it's VNC, the keyboard I need depends on whether I am on a Mac, Windows or Unix host. Even if it is command line access, my needs may differ: a Bash session could use arrow keys, a Ksh session might not.

iSSH custo keyboard

I may even want to switch keyboards within the same session. Apple anticipated that need with International keyboards - when you add other keyboards in Settings, you get a new key to the left of your space bar. That key lets your cycle through your keyboards. What if you could have your own custom keyboards instead of just choosing from the ones Apple supplies?

I could have a keyboard with "<" and ">" or even "<p>" for when I am writing HTML. I could have a keyboard with ctrl, alt, command and arrow keys for use with VNC and Bash. I could have what I need when I need it.

This can't be hard, can it?

Update: the iSSH app (Zingersoft iSSH) has recently added a programmable soft custom keyboard. I've programmed it to change the function keys (which I seldom use) into macros for common commands and to make inconvenient characters like angle brackets more easily accessible. I also swapped the shifted/unshifted ":" and ";" because I use ":" in 'vi' far more often than I use a semicolon in writing.

This is the type of functionality Apple should build right in.



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Wed May 19 20:11:03 2010: 8619   TonyLawrence

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Normally I do not ask people to tweet, Dig, Stumble or do anything with these posts but read them.

As I have said before, I don't WANT hordes of morons coming here from that sort if exposure.

However , I think this idea would greatly benefit iPad/iTouch/iPhone users AND developers.

Please feel free to social mediatize the hell out if this one :-)



Wed Apr 6 18:32:42 2011: 9433   TonyLawrence

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The new version of iSSH (just out today) allows you to choose the standard or a customized keyboard which lets you fully redefine every single key. This is what Apple should have!

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