Another week, another iOS 5 feature! This time round, I decided to give the Split Keyboard a try.
Now, unlike other iOS features in the past few weeks, this one is very much iPad-centric and is meant to improve the iOS typing experience, especially those of us who live and breathe the thumb-typing lifestyle. Accessing it is easy. Whenever the keyboard appears on the screen, long-hold the keyboard button in the bottom-right corner of the keyboard and the two keyboard options appear. Undock will release the keyboard from the bottom of the screen and you can move it around the screen. Split, however, will split the keyboard in half and allow you to start thumb-typing away, working in both portrait or landscape modes.
What’s nice about the split-board is that it greatly increases the viewable screen area, and theoretically allows for a more ergonomic way to interact with your iPad. If you’re an advocate of thumb-typing, You should give it a try. You may like it.
The split-board isn’t all fun and games though. There is a bit of a (but not a steep) learning curve to master it. More often than not, I miss the space bar and accidentally hit the N or B, causing a lot of typos along the way. (Luckily, the latest iOS beta update also greatly improved the autocorrect algorithm.) Another slight pet peeve is that the way the keyboard is split actually forces me to wire my brain to type differently (for example, I often use my left hand to type the letter B on my iPhone, but i have to use my right thumb now.)
I also find that the experience between portrait and landscape modes greatly differ. I find portrait mode puts a lot more weight of the iPad on my palms, making me swap to to landscape mode. On the other hand, the landscape mode forces me to move my head left and right quite a bit while I follow my thumbs between the two sides of the board, putting an unexpected amount of strain on my eyes and neck. In the course of writing this article, I find myself itching to go sit upright at a table, typing in a regular manner. In either case, the split-board was surprisingly less ergonomic and comfortable than I originally anticipated.
What a let down. I had high hopes for this feature and how it might change how I interact with my iPad. For now, though, I think I’m gonna stick to my SmartCover, my wireless Bluetooth keyboard and a nice table for my typing needs. Hope you found this quick feature enlightening. As always, leave a note in the comments below if you have a feature you’d like to know more about! We’re expecting a fe more weeks before iOS 5 will be widely available, so there’s plenty of time to dive into the new features.
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