le accidental occurrence

42at

Thumb keyboard concept for the iPad

with 13 comments

Update: Try live working demo!

iPad will be a great device for casual reading and web surfing.   Not so for writing. The lack of tactile-feedback is one reason.  The form-factor is another.

The great thing about the iPad is being able to hold it in your hands. To use the default keyboard, you’d have to hold it in one hand while typing with the other — not so comfortable.  Or lay it on a flat surface, which takes away from the form-factor benefits.

Why not use your thumbs?  You can hold it with both hands and use both thumbs for typing.  Thumb-based keyboards are a plenty:

The default iPad keyboard (as gleamed from the photos), has 37 keys.

  • 26 – A-Z
  • 2 – right/left shift
  • 2 – right/left numeric
  • 2 – punctuation
  • 2 – meta
  • 1 – delete
  • 1 – search/enter

With inside screen dimensions (sans bevel border) of roughly 5.82″ x 7.76″, I estimate key dimension to be about .4″ for the typical alphanumeric keys, plus the space around it.

The length of my thumb is about 2 ½” long. So, including intra-key spacing, roughly four keys should be easily within reach of a single thumb.

The thumb-zone on the iPad is a roughly 2″ radius area around the two corners.

iPad thumb keyboard concept - thumb-zone

Thumb keys – Concept 1

Here’s a keyboard design concept with the keys arranged around the two corners within easy reach of the thumbs.

iPad thumb keys - square

This key configuration has 39 keys, with roughly the same dimensions as the default iPad keyboard.  The main alphanumeric keys are  arranged in a 4×4 grid on each side of the tablet, with the rest of the keys on top.

One problem with this layout is that the keys do not fall within the familiar QWERTY layout, and this could impact usability.

Thumb keys – Concept 2

iPad thumb keyboard concept - QWERTY

This design follows the QWERTY layout (with slight modification) while keeping the majority of the keys within the thumb-zone.   The Q, O, and P keys are moved up one row, but are still within the proximity of their original positions.

This layout has 38 keys, including an elongated space key.

In real life

How does the thumb keyboard play in real life.  Well, there is no iPad available yet, but my trusty composition book has dimensions remarkably close to the iPad!  Here’s what it might look like.

iPad thumb keyboard concept - holding mockup

(This mock-up is from an earlier layout with the space key on the right.) Usability is quite good. All keys are withing range of my thumbs and in their familiar place (except the Q, O, P keys).

Any chance Apple will add this as an optional layout on the iPad?!

Update: Looks like others have been thinking along the same lines.  I like Scot Robbin’s split space bar in Concept: iPad Split Keyboard.  I’m less enthused about the duplicate keyboard design over at lonelysandwich.  Dan Moran makes a good case for a thumb-centered virtual keyboard in the text’s the thing.  Then there is the curved keypad, which although nice looking, may have usability issues.  Gizmodo contends scaling the iPhone’s keyboard to the iPad doesn’t make much sense, although that’s not what Apple thinks!

Update 2: (June 6, 2011) Split keyboard for iOS5  is coming!

Written by Moos

February 17th, 2010 at 1:46 am

Posted in blog

Tagged with ,

13 Responses to 'Thumb keyboard concept for the iPad'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Thumb keyboard concept for the iPad'.

  1. Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice at the same time as you amend your web site,
    how can i subscribe for a weblog site? The account
    helped me a acceptable deal. I were a little bit familiar
    of this your broadcast offered vivid clear idea

  2. Do you have a spam issue on this website; I also am a blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation; we have developed
    some nice practices and we are looking to exchange strategies
    with other folks, be sure to shoot me an e-mail if interested.

  3. I see you don’t use the power of social websites like
    facebook on your blog. You can get big traffic from
    social sites on autopilot using one useful app, for more info
    search in google for:
    Alufi’s Social Automation

    Anne

    21 Mar 15 at 3:12 pm

  4. Wow! After all I got a webpage from where I know how to truly take valuable facts regarding my study and
    knowledge.

    Feel free to surf to my blog post: porcelain tiles
    (zackaryxspb.wordpress.com)

  5. はこの印象的なレポートをありがとうございました。私はこれを読んで、次のリフレッシュしています。ありがとう!共有するための

  6. Similarly, the regression results for the NPL ratio indicate
    a U-shaped connection with the mortgage ratio.

    mortgage

    22 Oct 15 at 2:43 am

  7. I 愛あなたウェブログを読ん。を見てみましょう| | 最新のものを見てください。

  8. さて、私は間違いなくそれを読んで楽しみました。あなたが調達この先端は正しい計画のための非常に効果的です。

  9. イムあなたは今まで人々が投稿何に問題がある場合はどうなりますか?最近それ​​が振り向いた最近ものの、流行になっているようです。あなたの考えは何ですか?

  10. 私は同意崇拝本当に好き あなたを! はるかに多くを 内部未来を私は戻ってくると読むことができるように私はそれをお気に入りに追加されました。

  11. 私の一日を私は 求める の周り ための最良 サイト取得するには 1。あなたは私にしてくださいアドバイスでした、場所私はいくつか得ることができますか?

  12. I’m excited to uncover this site. I need to to thank you for ones time just
    for this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every bit of it and I have you bookmarked to look at new things on your blog.

    example

    26 Apr 17 at 10:44 am

  13. you have absolutely right

    jimeryhowits

    25 Oct 17 at 11:57 pm

Leave a Reply