The Glass Keyboard Revisited

The iPad's glass keyboard showing the extra options when you press-and-hold the $ key.

One of the things I love about Apple products is that they continually surprise me in a good way. I knew there were certain keys on the glass keyboard which, when pressed and held, gave you access to variations (e.g. press-and-hold on .com and you get .net, .edu, .org as options), but I had no idea how thoughtful and extensive these options were. Sadly, they’re not quite thoughtful and extensive enough.

  • It’s a shame they didn’t go the extra yard and provide some, tiny visual cue as to which keys have the extra options, and that they missed a few. E.g. I’ve not figured out how to get ©, ®, or ™ symbols or an n-dash (m-dash is under hyphen).
  • Why aren’t all keys of a given type overloaded the same way? (E.g. the period key on the main keyboard has no overloading, but the period key on the symbol keyboard lets you get to ellipsis).
  • And, finally, it’s also disappointing that those of us who have learned Apple’s long-standing Mac keyboard shortcuts aren’t rewarded with some sensible mappings. I can appreciate that the ° symbol is available from the 0 (zero) key, but why not from the 8 as well? (It’s option-shift-8 on a Mac.)

So, in this respect the glass keyboard gets a B. Foreign typists appear to be well-supported, although having to go to the symbol keyboard (which is two keys away) and then press-and-hold for a French quotation mark seems a bit much — why not overload more keys on the main keyboard? Put all the pauses under the comma key (semicolon, dash, etc.) and all the quotation marks under the period say.