This just occurred to me, and I’m curious to know if you think it’s even halfway plausible. Let me walk you through my thought process:
- The iPhone and the iPad both have software keyboards. The underlying assumption is that it’s gross and wasteful to dedicate all those atoms to this thing that you only use 10% of the time or less.
- As a bonus, a software keyboard makes internationalization easier. Manufacturing is 100% the same; you just change the code.
- I’ve gotten good at typing on the iPhone, and I expect I’ll adapt to the iPad, too… but something about that wide flat expanse, and the angle at which it sits—you’ll have to rest it on your lap to type, right?—does seem inherently fungly.
- Wait a minute. It’s a software keyboard. And if you can load up a different language, couldn’t you load up a different keyboard entirely? A different way to type?
- I’m not talking Dvorak. I’m talking something wacky like chording. I’m talking some serious Minority Report business here.
- The failure of alternative typing scheme is well-chronicled. But doesn’t the iPad change the equation entirely? You could seamlessly experiment and fall back to a standard keyboard if you got too frustrated, or if you were in a hurry. Other users could switch over to a standard keyboard instead of being stuck with your chorded monster. You could even—this is the cool part—design a chorded keyboard that coached you along the way! The keyboard could be on your team.
Put all those things together, and you’ve finally got an environment where other typing systems could make inroads. I don’t know about you, but the elegance of the iPad’s interface make QWERTY typing seem especially clunky to me. Imagine, instead, a system that actually took advantage of the multi-touch screen. And imagine a system that put tons of intelligence in the keyboard itself.
So all Apple has to do is make the iPad keyboard a modular, customizable element. What do you think? What are the odds?