Apple’s iOS 9 finally fixes the iPhone keyboard’s worst flaw

“It’s the little things in life,” Greg Kumparak reports for TechCrunch. “Like, you know, being able to tell if your keyboard is currently set to use capital letters or not.”

“With iOS 9, Apple is finally fixing one of the platform’s strangest quirks: the keyboard will no longer appear to be all caps, all the time.,” Kumparak reports. “To date, iOS has shown you’re in shift/caps lock by changing the color of the shift key from grey to white. The end result: a whole lot of ‘Wait. Crap. Shift is grey’d out. Does that mean shift is on, or that shift is off? The letters are big… so… Oh well, better tap a key to test it.'”

Kumparak reports, “No more!”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s so nice (and obvious) to have the keyboard change from lower to upper case letters when shift is on. Rejoice, with iOS 9, there’s no more “is shift on or off” guessing!

37 Comments

  1. Thing is, a standard keyboard is all caps, and shift is only on because you’re pressing it and Caps is just a little light. Whilst having it change on screen seems logical having not done that you would have thought they would have done anything other than the indicator the shift key had.

    1. I agree. I never thought about how it currently works as being odd or annoying. Making every character on the keyboard suddenly change by pressing shift may be more distracting than helpful.

      1. I think this is just the natural progression of moving from a qwerty keyboard to a virtual digital keyboard.

        The only way this all works (advancement of technology) is if we take advantage of the things we can do now, not, keep it the way we use to do it.

        1. It’s a matter of functionality, not “progress.” I’m familiar with the standard keyboard layout, so I know where each letter is located without looking for it. But with a virtual keyboard, I still need to look where I’m touching. People who are not as experienced at typing also need to look at the letters on the keys. Capital letters are easier to distinguish at a glance, compared to lower case letters.

          1. Yeah, that’s what I’m not looking forward to: the keyboard will be in lower-case mode almost all the time. It’s not what I’m used to looking at. It will take some getting used to, and I’m not sure it’s worth it. It will be nice if Apple allows us to opt-out of this “improvement”.

            And seriously people: is “shift-key confusion” really a thing when using iOS? If you click the shift key, it shifts to upper-case for one freaking letter. If you can’t remember whether you pressed it or not for that long, you have serious memory problems and should consider treatment. If you double-click the shift key to lock it, it changes the symbol displayed on the shift key. This is so much ado about absolutely nothing.

            ——RM

            1. You’re forgetting that there are contexts where the shift key is pressed FOR you. One example is that you never know whether an input text box in a web page asks the keyboard to capitalize the first letter or not. So, you look at the mystery shift key and think “I believe it was the other color just before I clicked into this box, so that means if I type it will capitalize the first letter.” *type* “Damn! Nope.” *hit delete, and try again*

              Seriously, I wonder sometimes at people who are either:
              1. so perfect they maintain 100% awareness of all things in their environment, or
              2. so unaware that when others point out how confusing something is to those who pay attention, they say “What are you talking about? I blundered through that thing without noticing what was happening!”

              To those people, I have to ask: “Why do you use Apple products?” I use them because they tend to be better at handling these kinds of details. So, when they get something wrong, I like to see them fix it. Why in the world wouldn’t you _want_ them to make things work better?

            2. “So, you look at the mystery shift key and think …”

              Seriously? I’m trying to picture that. Some guy staring at his phone, lower lip quivering, sweat dripping off his brow, wondering, wondering “Is this shift key on? Or off? Which one? I can’t tell! WHAT DO I DOOOOOO?!!!

              Jeezus, people. You’re not defusing a bomb, here. You’re typing. It’s a fast activity. Yes, on rare occasion I hit space twice and toss in an unintended period, activating auto-shift. When the next letter come up a capital, I hit delete a few times and try again. Total time wasted, one second at the most.

              I just can’t comprehend getting worked up about whether the shift key is on or not. Just assume it isn’t and type. If it’s wrong, well golly gosh, you have to make a correction. Guess what, it probably won’t be the only one you make. (I had to make enough typing this, and it was typed on a PC.)

              ——RM

            3. You are bizarre. This is a tech site, for people who find tech interesting, and like to see improvements happen. You set up a straw man argument where people are supposedly helpless or “worked up.” That’s a pointless thing to argue, since it isn’t what anyone said was happening.

              What happened was that people who like Apple products observed a feature that is currently needlessly confusing and slows people down. They suggested that it should be improved. Apparently Apple agrees because they are making a change in an attempt to fix it (whether that change is the best way to address the problem is another question). You basically said “what a bunch of whiners” and wasted everyone’s time.

              If your attitude prevailed, our software would be nowhere near as good as it is today.

            4. You (we) are right… This change is NOT “better.” I think Steve Jobs appreciated the reason why cap key letters are capital, not lower case… Because capital letters are easier to distinguish at a glance. The evolution of language over centuries has made this so. Lower case letter make complete WORDS (like “phone”) easier to recognize at a glance; we read mostly by recognizing words (and sets of words), not individual letters. Individual letters are easier to distinguish in capital form.

              Just think about this… On the keys of a physical keyboard, or an old typewriter, are the letters capital or lower case? They are capital. Why? The default character when typed is lower case, unless you press the Shift key. So why isn’t the letter on key cap lower case? It’s because capital letter are easier to recognize at a glance.

              As you said, we do NOT want to see lower case letters on the virtual keyboard most of the time. There’s a valid reason for the capital letters. This is NOT a “mistake” that Apple is “fixing.”

  2. actually, the worst thing about the keyboard is not having a fourth row of keys with numbers and symbols. the key caps thing has never bothered me.

  3. The thing about the old (or current) key caps toggling is that in iOS 8 they changed the signal to gray. It used to be blue. With the blue key it was pretty obvious that cap action was “ON”. Gray generally means non-active in GUI parlance, so the iOS 8 change really made it tough and non-intuitive. I never had a problem with the all-caps keyboard on my iPhone until iOS 8. With it I’ve been almost always wrong. I’m with the author on this one: The iOS 8 keyboard needed fixing, and the change is welcome. Can’t wait to have it.

    1. Here’s how I know the shift key is on: I just frigging pressed it.

      Seriously, how can you possibly not know if the shift key is on? It only lasts for one key press! What, do you press the shift key, then leave your phone and have lunch or something?

      If you’re talking about shift LOCK, that works totally different. The shift doesn’t just change color, it changes its symbol as well.

      ——RM

  4. If I recall correctly, standard Android keyboard had this behaviour since FroYo (2.2), if not earlier. Normal appearance is lower case, when you shift or shift-lock, it goes upper-case. It came as a bit of a surprise when I came to iPhone that it behaved the way it did (and still does).

  5. About time. I suppose they originally intended it to work like a hardware keyboard, visually. But it’s software! You can do what you like! Show the non-caps as non-caps already! I wish we could say ‘Steve Jobs would have noticed this!’ But he was alive through iOS 6. He didn’t notice.

    1. It really does make you wonder what the internal reason was….

      “Sorry Tim, we can’t ship Friendly Caps this year because…..” …what exactly? The Caps guy was busy on another project? They were considering just not having caps?

      Its just been strange.

    2. Steve Jobs not notice details? Pshaw. The very idea!

      Here’s my theory: the all-caps keyboard was an important instance of skeuomorphism that Scott Forstall successfully promoted in meetings about the original iPhone user interface. Steve Jobs bought into Scott’s overarching conceptual scheme of faithful representations, because it expanded the successful Mac OS desktop metaphor with its little pictures of file folders and dog-eared paper documents.

      Emboldened by Steve’s support of extreme realism in iOS, Scott went on to paint up an egregious storm of imagery with his calf-leather desk pad with torn calendar page, wallet saddle stitching on the Find My Friends app, and ribbon shredding of expired cards in Passbook. You’ll recall Scott’s sly grin as he demonstrated that last bit on stage, unable to resist a dig at his UI opponents in the design sphere.

      After Scott was cashiered during a palace coup by Jonathan Ive, the quaint parlour of rococo icons and gewgawry were swept away and replaced by postmodern rubberstamps. But a severe backlash shuttered the minimalist apparat, and iOS users were relieved when concessions to naturalism began to reappear, like the sweeping seconds hand in the Clock app.

      Then users got more of what they wanted with improved autocompletion, emoji, dictation, an API for third-party keyboards; and now they have the comfort of lower case lettering. Apple listens and delivers, even if in their rushing about they confuse features and bugs.

      All this shall pass. It is a sideshow. Apple’s core development strategy is to perfect the user experience — and not just by passively catering to our existing behaviours but actively shaping new ones — rooting out old habits and practices and training us for the future. The Watch is our first glimpse of that future, one in which qwerty and dvorak are obsolete.

  6. Why should it be that the public had to wait 2 years for this (since iOS7). It is something that Apple could have released in a supplemental update MUCH sooner.
    Apple is falling without Jobs. They now put bloatware on their iPhones (“Tips” “Watch” and in iOS 9 “Find My Friends”). Yes, you can move these into folders, but the very fact that Apple is now adopting the very policies that would have made Jobs irate is very disturbing. Apple is slowly creeping away from the “It Just Works” philosophy to the “let complications and bloatware creep in” laziness.

  7. If I turn my iPad to landscape, Ta da, bigger keyboard. If I turn my 6+ to landscape, I get some added features that are “sometimes” usable. I wonder what half skinned prick thought that changing the keyboard layout without a default to original button was a good thing.

  8. I guess you are one of those people that can’t see many full glasses of fine scotch if a single empty glass is next to them.

    The world must be a dark place for you.

  9. They could improve further:
    Tap shift once, next letter is Caps—as today
    Tap shift twice, CAPS until you hit space—for acronyms
    Tap three times, AND YOU GET CAPS UNTIL YOU HIT SHIFT—as today
    The problem it solves is, entering an ACRONYM AND FINDING THES REST IN CAPS

  10. this never happened if the keyboard is still skeuomorphic.
    When the shift key is off, the arrow is darken
    But when the shift key is on, the arrow glows which made it look like a physical switch that is turned on.

    skeuomorphic still wins

  11. What is irksome to me is that on IOS 9 my microphone is intermittent and not reliable enough for regular use. thank goodness for the intuitive type so I am not spending all day getting this post out. Anyone else with the voice issues give a shout out please. On 8 it has been flawless but it seems like the new beta version has rendered voice control useless on my iPhone 6. it has been this way for a couple weeks now. just another bug to work out methinks.

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