Apple releases how-to video explaining iPhone’s intelligent, predictive keyboard

Apple today released the latest in the company’s recent string of iPhone videos: “iPhone Keyboard.”

Apple advises:
• Start with just one index finger
• At first, be very deliberate with your finger taps
• Pay particular attention to the confirmation pop-ups and where your finger touches the screen

Apple has clearly spent a lot of time developing iPhone’s virtual keyboard. iPhone constantly checks what you’re typing against its built-in dictionary. When it finds a mistake, the iPhone makes a suggestion. To decline and keep the word as you typed it, just tap the suggested word. To accept iPhone’s suggestion, just tap the space bar. iPhone also uses its built-in dictionary along with complex mathematics to help correct mistake via pattern matching (for example, typing “ouzza” leads iPhone to offer “pizza” as a suggestion). iPhone also uses its built-in dictionary to predict the next letter you might tap and dynamically resizes the tap zones. It makes the next predicted keys larger and the others smaller as it zeros in on the particular word you’re typing.

iPhone changes its keyboard for different tasks, adapting its layout and keys for different apps.

The trick is to just type away and trust the intelligence of the iPhone keyboard. As you become more comfortable and more proficient, you can graduate to typing with two thumbs and, Apple says, “in less than a week you’ll likely discover yourself typing faster on iPhone than on any other small keyboard.”

The video (in your choice of sizes) is here: http://www.apple.com/iphone/usingiphone/keyboard.html

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Isabelle” for the heads up.]

52 Comments

  1. Don’t forget that the cost of the phone has already been accounted for in the cost of your subscription. NOTHING, I repeat, nothing is completely free. Someone, somewhere is paying for that “free” phone, whether it is built into the rate plan or being paid for by your employer (lucky you!!).

  2. Why do I think that hitting the spacebar is not a good why to say I accept your spelling suggestion. If I want to say “I hate rar files” and the phone suggests rat for rar I would naturally hit the spacebar after rar. It just seems backwards to me. Hit the spacebar (or any other key) to decline and hit the suggested spelling to accept seems more intuitive to me. Anyone else agree or does Apples way seem right to you?

  3. That video is VERY impressive btw., and the guy on it is _great_. He’s got this little sly, proud, but not obnoxious smile after each demonstration of a hitherto unknown under-the-hood amazing feature of the virtual keyboard. He’s also got an overall serious, smart and yet nice persona. They should use him more for this kind of stuff, IMO.

  4. I think that spacebar to accept would work right if the software is designed in the right way. i.e. If Microsoft did it then it would be wrong to hit spacebar, but there is no way Steve would allow this to ship if it wasn’t the most intuitive solution.

    I say trust Apple when they say to trust the iPhone…

  5. Chris, I wondered the same thing about the space bar. But if you are accept the suggested word, what is the next key you’d press to continue typing? The space! So why not just type the spacebar to accept and continue with one keypress? It does make sense.

  6. Chris Moore: “Why do I think that hitting the spacebar is not a good why to say I accept your spelling suggestion. If I want to say “I hate rar files” and the phone suggests rat for rar I would naturally hit the spacebar after rar. It just seems backwards to me. Hit the spacebar (or any other key) to decline and hit the suggested spelling to accept seems more intuitive to me. Anyone else agree or does Apples way seem right to you?”

    It’s a matter of efficiency. Space and punctuations always come after a word, so you’ll type them anyway. However if space is used to reject the predictive correction, you’ll have to go back to previous words and tap to accept the correction often.

    iPhone’s way allows your finger to stay on the virtual keyboard as much as possible and you only need to go to the text area as needed to make a rejection. OTOH, your way means you need to get off the virtual keyboard very often to accept suggested corrections. For example if iPhone uses your way:
    I hatw (go back to hatw and tap it)
    I hate rar fules (go back to fules and tap it)
    I hate rar files

    or

    I hatw (continue with a space)
    I hate rar (go back to rar and tap it)
    I hate rar fules (continue with a space)
    I hate rar files

    Notice how many times you need to go back to the previous words. Remember, you are going to make many mistakes (hence, the need for autocorrect feature), but if you trust the predictive keyboard and plow away with spaces, you can type more efficiently and save many taps if iPhone uses your way.

  7. A better solution would be you tap the word to accept and it automatically leaves a space for the next word so you don’t need to use the space bar. And when you don’t want the suggested word you continue typing.

    Think also of a situation where it suggests more than one word, if that’s possible, then you just tap one of the words.

  8. @Steve:

    $500 includes a 4GB $200 iPod nano (and WHAT an iPod!). I paid $450 for my Treo 650 (back in the day), $500 for a 4GB iPod with a phone, internet browser, e-mail and all the other things coming down the pike is a real bargain.

    On a separate issue one could reasonably argue that if a 4GB Nano is $200 and an 8GB Nano is $250, why isn’t the 8GB iPhone $550?

    @M.A.D.
    In M$ Word, I hit the “return” key to accept a suggestion, so Space bar is as good as anything. And the reason you hit the suggested word to decline is because right next to the suggested word is a little X in a circle which means “close”. So by tapping on the word you’re actually “closing” that suggestion. I know is “sounds” counter-intuitive, but visually it makes a lot of sense.

  9. @ It could be better

    ” better solution would be you tap the word to accept “

    No, no, no!! I don’t want to go hunting all over the screen to tap suggested words to accept them. The space bar never moves, I know exactly where it is all the time. And since most of the time the suggestions will be correct, that does seem to be the correct GUI…

    Just my $0.02 worth

  10. @Steve,

    The biggest psychological barrier is the fact that iPhone is being called a phone.. However, iPhone is less a phone than it is an ultra-portable computer. Sure, it has limitations compared to a full-fledged notebook computer, but iPhone is a legitimate computer that runs OSX.

    When you think of the device in those terms, the $500 price tag is much more justifiable.

    Seriously, if iPhone was called something else and it didn’t have phone functions, people would not have the psychological barrier of paying $500 for a phone.. They’d be paying $500 for a full-screen touch iPod and ultra-portable internet and email computer.. Phone calls are just icing on the cake.

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