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.

Split Ergonomic Keyboards and The Dvorak Layout

My switch to Dvorak has also brought me to switch to ergonomic split keyboards. I bought a Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite for work, a recently got the Goldtouch for Mac Adjustable Keyboard for home. The Goldtouch keyboard has been a big disappointment for me and I have decided to return it. The biggest problem I have had with it is the sensitivity of keys being different than what I am used to. The bizarre arrangement of some feature keys has also been an issue. I would like a split ergonomic keyboard designed for the Mac, but I have yet to find the right one. Adesso has such a keyboard but the ‘6’ key is on the right side of the split, which is not how it should be.

So the search continues. If I don’t find a good enough split ergonomic keyboard designed for the Mac soon I may just get a Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite (which feels great) and use Mac keyboard stickers on the ‘Ctrl,’ ‘Windows,’ and “Alt” keys to give me the Dvorak keyboard layout.