A Dvorak Typist Slumming It Typing QWERTY on the IPad

So, I was hoping that with the release of iOS 5 that support for a software Dvorak keyboard would finally happen. It didn’t. And I was momentarily swayed away from getting an iPad because, as a Dvorak typist, I would prefer not to switch to typing QWERTY just to use the coveted device.

And here I am, typing on an iPad, using the software QWERTY keyboard.

While I cannot type very well on a typical keyboard with QWERTY, using the software keyboard on the iPad is surprising acceptable. It took me a good while to fully transition from QWERTY to Dvorak, but thumb-typing on the iPhone never changed. The small keyboard size on the iPhone and the single-digit touch typing method on the device has never been a problem for me, and I suspect that the experience of typing on the iPad, while closer to normal typing, still isn’t all that different from thumb-typing on the iPhone. With no keys to press, the sensation is basically the same, even though I’ve gone from two digits to ten. The size of the on-screen keyboard is smaller than the split, ergonomic keyboards I use at home and work, and that appears to make a difference.

That said, I did purchase a Bluetooth keyboard for Dvorak typing, and i have used it. That will always be my preference for typing, as long as Apple continues to deny Dvorak typists like myself the option of an on-screen keyboard in our layout of choice. But typing QWERTY on the iPad is a sacrifice I am willing to make, and have managed to conquer without much struggle.

Dvorak Keyboard Layout in iOS 5

Sources inform me that Apple has finally caught on, and will include the Dvorak Keyboard layout in the new version of their iOS, version 5, due out in the fall.

The latest version of iOS 4 only included software support for QWERTY, AZERTY, and QWERTZ layouts, though it would support Dvorak with an external keyboard. (see screenshot)

This is big news for me, as it’s now been nearly three years since I became a Dvorak typist. The switch was a challenge because in order to retrain my finger to know where to go, I had to switch not only at home, but at work. The only place I couldn’t switch was my iPhone. Truthfully, while I wanted to switch my typing 100%, this wasn’t a huge issue since thumb typing, in my opinion, is different from actual typing, and the benefits of Dvorak can’t really be achieved on such a small typing screen.

Of course, then the iPad came out. And the lack of Dvorak support in iOS was a huge disappointment, and was probably, in retrospect, the deal breaker for me. In truth, the iPad, when it was first launched, was not a big deal to me, and I didn’t really want one. However, with all the apps that are now available, I see the iPad as a potentially important tool that can greatly enhance my productivity. I own a MacBook Pro which sits on my desk, and goes virtually nowhere, despite it being designed for portability. So, I’ve been itching for an iPad for a while now, but the keyboard issue was… just that… an issue I couldn’t ignore.

But, that’s changed, and when the new operating is released, I see an iPad more clearly in my future. There are many of us who have made the switch in order to type faster while reducing strain on our hands and wrists, and there are many of us who have resisted iPhones and iPads because of that.

So, I look forward to the new iOS 5. It will be interesting switching to Dvorak for thumb typing, and it’ll be great to not have to deal with QWERTY for the iPad, or have to buy an external keyboard for it. The next question is, will there be a new iPad announced this year, and will it be an iPad 2 HD or an iPad 3?

The Apple iPad Falls Short

I so wanted to like the iPad. I anxiously anticipated its announcement last week, only to find myself disappointed.

I love Apple products. I have an iPhone. I have a MacBook Pro. What I was hoping was that Apple would create a keyboard-less MacBook with a touchscreen. Intsead, they created a jumbo-sized iPhone. Frankly, that’s not what I want.

Thinking about it for a while, I’ve put together a list of things that the iPad needed to be to tempt me to get one.

  • Native Mac OS X with the ability to run iPhone Apps. What use is a portable device that big if it doesn’t have the ability to function like a laptop first and foremost?
  • Dvorak Simplified Keyboard support. As a Dvorak typist, this was probably the biggest deal-breaker of them alll. Nothing in the features or specs says anything about Dvorak keyboard support. I can’t type QWERTY anymore, and lord knows I ain’t switching back, especially for the iPad.
  • Syncing capability with a primary Mac computer. The size of a tablet device limits the amount of onboard memory it can have, so why not be able to specify through iTunes, what applications you want to run on the iPad and be able to sync as required? And not only that, but sync specified folders either through iTunes or MobileMe so you can work on files on the road, but they can be updated automatically, or through sycing, back on you main computer?
  • Bluetooth. I didn’t see this listed, so, nuts to that.
  • Tether capabities with the iPhone, and no extra data plan required.

Is that so hard? I don’t think so. Maybe Apple will develop an actual tablet computer sometime.. but for now, the iPad is not something I need when I already have an iPhone and a MacBook Pro.