How will users type on Apple’s rumored tablet?

Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac “Speculation about the Apple Tablet mostly focuses on what the device is, not how it functions,” John Herrman writes for Gizmodo.

“Text input, more than anything else, is the problem Apple needs to solve to make the concept work,” Herrman writes. “So how will they do it? …How do you create text without a keyboard?”

“We’ve been comfortably typing without physical keyboards for years now, and this is largely Apple’s doing,” Herrman writes. “One of the great triumphs of the iPhone was to make onscreen keyboards bearable—something that, even if you hate the concept of virtual keys on principle, you have to admit they accomplished.”

Herrman writes, “The onscreen keyboard as we know it doesn’t scale gracefully, and unless Apple wants their tablet to be completely useless (our sources say they don’t) they’re going to have to figure this out. So what are Apple’s options?”

Herrman covered four possible solutions:
1: A Giant iPhone
2: Voice Control
3: The Dreaded Stylus
4: A New Style of Keyboard

Full article – recommended – here.

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


  1. here’s how – two words: haptic feedback

    MDN’s report on BGR’s predictions back in Jun’08 mentioned haptic feedback for the touchscreen keyboard, but I’m surprised this seems to be in few people’s predictions and rumors these past few weeks. so that plus a bunch of new multitouch gestures will make the UI of the tablet very useable

  2. Anyone know more about that idea of it using a touch-sensitive back surface? You’d type on the back using a split keyboard approach but with visuals of the keys appearing onscreen.

  3. Actually, Apple has a patent on a touch keyboard that adapts to the user. That is, the keyboard size and position moves based upon where your fingers are.

    Touch typers are taught to rest their fingers on the keyboard, index fingers on the f and j keys. The patent I saw had the keyboard adjusting its size and position based upon where your fingers are resting.

    Funny, but this was also an idea I had had when the iPhone came out, and was thinking of filing my own patent, but apparently Apple beat me to it. Actually, I dragged my feet.

  4. Apple had a patent granted a couple of years ago where they talked about integrating a camera into an LCD display (not in the surround, but interspersing CCD elements into the spaces between the LCD pixels. Maybe “no camera” really means ‘no separate camera’?” That would allow 3D control gestures where your fingers don’t actually touch the screen. That fits with the “interacting WAY differently” and “steep learning curve” rumors.

  5. Actually I call idiot author. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

    The iPhone has bluetooth, the Apple keyboard has bluetooth, Its simple. Once Apple decides to do it.

    My guess is an on screen touch keyboard and a way to link bluetooth keyboards. Add a 60 degree angle holder for the screen unit and you go to town. In fact the magic mouse is wireless too.


    Just a thought,

  6. I think a touchscreen keyboard and handwriting recognition with a capacitive stylus would do the job. Yeah Steve shit on the stylus at Macworld but he contradicts himself all the time.

    To ignore all the wonderful things you can do with a stylus on a tablet would be a mistake, IMO.

  7. Simply hold the tablet vertically and the accelerometer opens up a keyboard. While in iPhone’s 3.5″ screen the vertical keyboard is more of a hassle than the horizontal one (too small), here the horizontal would be too large, and the vertically almost perfect. It would also leave more space to see the text as you type it.

    Voice control isn’t efficient, and it would be a mess outdoors. Why Gizmodo even suggest such a thing is beyond me.

    Stylus is even worse than “giant iPhone keyboard” (for typing, unless every text app uses handwriting, and my handwriting is pretty difficult o understand)

    And those “new keyboard styles” would take too long to get used with and aren’t as efficient than the vertical one.

  8. After reading that article, I think my facetious idea of a velcro-strap on the back may not be so far off. Perhaps a handle of some sort on the back-side that is meant for you to slide your hand through (to hold the tablet like a platter), or to hold traditionally (balling up your fist around the handle).

    This would take care of weight/balance issues caused by holding the table on just one edge. Your free hand could then be used to type, using all 5 fingers. Remember that computer geek from 007 Goldeneye who typed like that?

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