Ways to Type on iOS, or, How Many Ways to Tell a Friend Not to Talk to You, Especially at 4 AM!
A Blog Post by Jessica Hodges
Groaning, I roll over. Finding my phone in a tangle of bedclothes, I swipe clumsy fingers across my screen. A friend sent me a novel via text. Ordinarily, I love reading these. Right now, it’s four in the morning, and I’m in the middle of finals week, so I’d only gotten to bed two hours before. To make matters worse, it’s about shampoo, from a girl I don’t really care about at this hour. Fortunately for my half asleep and very grouchy brain, iOS has an easy solution for me. Just above Apples built in keyboard, a row of predictions can be seen. Double tapping on any of these will input it into my text field. The first one I find is a simple, “OK.” Entering it, I hit send, and go to sleep for one more hour. You can turn Predictive Type on in keyboard settings. Just ask Siri, “Hey Siri, open Keyboard Settings” and swipe down to Predictive and you can toggle this feature on or off.
Three hours later, I’m in class, bored out of my mind. I’m valiantly trying to keep my eyes open when I hear my phone buzz in my bag. Debating a moment, I reach for it, pulling it out and popping a Bluetooth earbud in one ear. It’s part two in the shampoo novel. I consider how I want to answer her. There are three ways of using the keyboard on the iOS keyboard. The first is called standard typing. The letter is treated like every other element on the screen. You find it, double tap it, and it gets entered into the text. The second way is called direct touch typing. This way, the keyboard is used the way a sighted person would use it. A letter is touched and gets immediately entered. Currently, I’m trying to teach myself how to use this feature, but this girl isn’t worth the time it would take me to correct any mistakes I make. So, I opt for the third option, touch typing. A letter is found, but only entered once you let go of the screen. Letter by letter, under my desk, I type, “that’s awesome.”
Later, on the bus going home, my phone buzzes again. Pulling it out of my bag, I sigh. Another text from shampoo girl, even longer than the first two. With an exasperated grunt, I realize it’s going to take a bit more time than I thought. So, I turn to braille screen input, or BSI. This mode has been built into apple devices, simulating braille typing on a touch screen. I activate it through my rotor and turn the phone so that its screen is facing outward, with the side holding the phones earpiece in my left palm, and the end holding the home button in my right. Holding it this way, my three middle fingers can curve over the screen, three on each end, a little like how the dots on a braille cell are laid out. My pointer finger of my left-hand acts as dot one when it’s touching the screen, my middle, dot two, and my ring for dot three. This is repeated on the other side for four, five, and six. Space can bee done with a swipe to the right, deletes with one and two finger swipes to the left. In this way, I type, “I’m glad that you’ve found a shampoo that works for you and that you’ve become one of their sellers. I’ve got a shampoo that I really like, but I’ll keep you in mind if I ever need something new, thanks for letting me know.”
When I’m off the bus, dinner’s been put away, and I’m half asleep, my phone dings at me again. Resisting the urge to throw it across the room, I unlock my phone without reading the text, and think for a minute about different apps I could use to respond. I could use mBraille, a powerful app alternative to BSI, that integrates as a keyboard, and allows for sending text almost anywhere from within the app, but I don’t feel like I need that. Type9is a keyboard based on the telephone keypad that is simple and efficient, but I don’t feel like numbers. So, I open the message thread, and hit the “next keyboard,” button, which brings me to an app called FlickType. FlickType is an app that just hit the app store a little while ago. Simulating a qwerty keyboard, it takes a slightly different approach to typing. Tapping the screen where you think each letter should be will allow the app to guess what word you’re trying to type. A swipe right will translate those letters into its first guess. If it’s wrong, a swipe down will cycle to the next guess, with more swipes changing the word until you find the one you want. Another swipe to the right confirms. This translates into a system that can be used very rapidly, and I like it when I’m going to be writing really, really long things. If punctuation is needed, another swipe to the right will input a period, more swipes down changing it to other symbols. For a mere one dollar a month, this can be used as a third party keyboard. I clearly need to give this girl a little more thought than I have been, so it is with this, I type: “Really, I’m glad you have a shampoo you like, I really, really do, but I’m not currently interested in changing mine right now. I’m in the middle of finals, so please, don’t text me at four in the morning. And please, as much as I’m sure your shampoo is awesome, I’m really not interested right now. Hope you’re having a good night.”
After I’ve hit the send button, I scroll up to view more of the conversation, and start laughing. I’d gotten no more texts from shampoo girl. The buzzing of my phone was another friend, coordinating an upcoming trip. I smiled and apologized, but pasted the text into a note, just in case.
I don’t actually have a girl texting me obsessively about a kind of shampoo she’s selling, and I try not to be that rude in texts, most of the time, but I do use those typing methods all the time, all over my iPhone. I hope you were able to find something that helped you find a better way to type on your phone. If you have ideas, think I missed something, or have questions, feel free to email me at Jessica hodges. Enjoy shampoo free phones, and easy typing for years ahead.
Thank you for listening!
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