Author Archives: Charl

Type While Walking

Type While Walking

Type While WalkingGot no time to write? Make time by writing while you’re walking.

Type While Walking app uses the iPhone’s camera to show you what’s in front of you while you’re walking or enjoying a view. The words you type appear in white against the background image of where you’re going.

Type While Walking is a simple idea but surprisingly effective. With a bit of caution, you can avoid obstacles with ease. Just be careful of the things that aren’t in front of you. There’s no point avoiding a pothole while you’re crossing the street if a car sideswipes you.

Once you’ve finished typing, you can put your text into another app by tapping the buttons at the top of the screen. You have the option to past text into your SMS app, or Mail, or use it to update your Facebook status. You can also choose to copy the text for use in any other kind of app.

Type While Walking Screenshot

Unfortunately for writers who want to write while looking at something else, Type While Walking is pretty basic as far as word processing apps go. There’s no TextExpander support or word count. There’s a character counter, which is helpful for SMS and Twitter but not very useful for writers. All in all, Type While Walking is more a toy word processor than a serious productivity app.

You can find Type While Walking for approximately a dollar in iTunes.

Apple Wireless Keyboard

Apple Wireless Keyboard

Apple Wireless KeyboardThe Apple Wireless Keyboard is unquestionably the best Bluetooth keyboard that I’ve ever used, and it works beautifully with the iPhone.

The Apple Wireless Keyboard’s quality and ease of use is evident from the moment you open the box. The keyboard ships with two AA batteries, which are not only included but are actually inserted. Most new electronic devices require a few moments of hunting for the battery compartment, and then a few more moments of hunting for a tool to lever the compartment open. Not the Apple Wireless Keyboard. All you have to do is turn it on.

Pairing your iPhone and the Apple Wireless Keyboard for the first time is a breeze. There’s no need to find and press a connection button. Just turn the keyboard on, and your iPhone will do the rest.

It’s possible to touch type very quickly on the Apple Wireless Keyboard. As it’s full-sized and all the keys are the correct size, shape and position, getting up to speed takes no time at all.

The keyboard control buttons work. The volume keys adjust your iPhone’s volume, and the eject button makes your on-screen keyboard appear and disappear. The brightness keys function. The only non-functional keys are Dashboard and Expose, but that isn’t surprising as the iPhone operating system lacks those features.

You don’t even need to tell the Apple Wireless Keyboard to reconnect the next time you want to use it. Just turn it on, and watch your on-screen keyboard close automatically, when it realises you have a better way to input text.

Yes, the Apple Wireless Keyboard is larger than a folding Bluetooth keyboard. But it’s extremely thin and only weighs just over 300 grams. The lack of a number pad means the keyboard is quite compact and fits easily into a handbag.

There are only two things missing with the Apple Wireless Keyboard, as far as writing on your iPhone is concerned.

The first thing is protection. The Apple Wireless Keyboard is intended for desktop use and doesn’t come with a case. Cases made specifically for the keyboard tend to be expensive and hard to find. The easiest, cheapest and rather ill-fitting substitute would be an iPad case.

The second thing missing is a stand for your iPhone. It’s far more comfortable to write when your iPhone is propped up on a stand because the screen is harder to read when it is lying flat. Buying a separate stand or using one from another keyboard would be a good idea.

Although it lacks a stand and a case, I can definitely recommend the Apple Wireless Keyboard for writing on your iPhone. It is currently the keyboard I choose to use most.

The Apple Wireless Keyboard is US$60 or A$99. It’s available from a wide range of computer stores and also online.

TextExpander

TextExpander


TextExpanderAre typing mistakes something you never make? Do you live for writing out long repetitive email signatures or web addresses? Is going back and capitalising words your hobby?

If so, TextExpander is not the app for you.

But if you’re one of the 99.9 percent of people who hate doing those things, TextExpander is an absolute must.

TextExpander works simply, but the end result is very powerful. The app monitors your keystrokes inside other apps that support it. Then it compares what you’re typing to the keystroke combinations stored in its database. These keystroke combinations are called Snippets. There are thousands of predefined Snippets and it’s easy to add your own.

When TextExpander recognises a keystroke combination you’ve typed, it replaces it with the relevant Snippet, which could be the correct spelling of a word you always misspell, an email signature, or an email or web address. Snippets can be only a letter long or go on for paragraphs. After making the substitution, TextExpander beeps to let you know. You can change or turn off this beep if you like.

TextExpander can save you literally hours of typing and editing. It’s an app that’s valuable the moment you choose to install the predefined Snippets and it only gets more valuable over time as you customise it to your writing style by adding Snippets of your own.

TextExpander works on the iPad, iPod touch, and there’s a version for the Mac as well. All these versions can sync wirelessly with each other, so if you add new Snippets to one of your devices, you can easily update the others.

If you’re at all serious about writing on your iPhone, you need TextExpander.

TextExpander app is US$4.99, and the Mac version is US$34.95.

Dropbox Icon

Dropbox

Dropbox IconDropbox is one of the must-have apps for the iPhone. It’s a free service (if you’re storing under two gigs of data) and it puts a folder on your iPhone that you can drag and drop files into from your Mac or Windows computer.

Think of what you could do with that! You could drag and drop PDF files onto your iPhone for later reading in either the Notebooks or iBooks apps. You could drop in the photographs you’ve just taken, for your family and friends to pick up.

Writers can use Dropbox to store text documents that can be accessed and edited from your iPhone and home computer. No longer will you have to email documents to yourself, paste text into your word processor and not be quite sure if you’re looking at the latest version of the document.

If you use Scrivener 2.0, you can arrange to share a text folder that you can edit from both your home computer and your iPhone.

Dropbox is an absolute must-have for writers, and best of all it’s free if you use under two gig of storage space. After that, plans start at US$9.99 a month.

Bluetooth Connection Screen

Connecting your iPhone to a Bluetooth Keyboard

Bluetooth Connection ScreenFree your iPhone or iPad from the limitations of the on-screen keyboard by connecting to a Bluetooth keyboard.

To connect to the Apple Wireless Keyboard:

(Note: This works for the iPad and the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS running iOS4.)

Turn your Apple Wireless Keyboard on. It comes with the batteries already inside, so you can use it right out of the box.

Tap on Settings on your iPhone.

Settings

Settings

Tap on General.

General

General

Tap on Bluetooth.

Bluetooth in Settings

Bluetooth in Settings

Turn Bluetooth on, if it’s not on already. Keyboard Not Paired should appear. Tap on it. A dialogue box will appear telling you to enter a passkey on the keyboard.

Keyboard Not Paired

Keyboard Not Paired

Enter the passkey and press enter.

Passkey Dialogue Box

Passkey Dialogue Box

Wait until the  keyboard is connected.

Keyboard Connected

Keyboard Connected

Your iPhone is now paired with your Apple Wireless Keyboard.

To reconnect your iPhone with your Apple Wireless Keyboard:

Turn Bluetooth on, if it isn’t on already, by tapping on Settings > General > Bluetooth and then turning Bluetooth on.

Turn on your Apple Wireless Keyboard. In a few seconds, it will connect.

Connecting a Non-Apple Bluetooth Keyboard:

If you want to pair your iPhone or iPad with another brand of Bluetooth keyboard, the procedure is similar. But there are a few differences.

When you pair with the keyboard the first time, you will probably need to find and press a tiny connection button. Check the instructions that came with your keyboard to find this button. It is usually inside the battery box.

Once you have pressed the connection button, you’ll see the passkey dialogue box, as above. Enter the numbers on the keyboard and press enter.

Reconnecting an iPhone with a Non-Apple Bluetooth Keyboard:

When you want to reconnect to your non-Apple Bluetooth keyboard, you will probably find that turning the keyboard on isn’t enough to make it reconnect.

Check the instructions that came with your keyboard. You may need to press a combination of keys to force it to reconnect. For instance, to make the MP-0118+ keyboard reconnect, you have to press the CMD and Find keys together.

You may also need to force your keyboard to reconnect by going into Settings > General > Bluetooth and tapping on the keyboard’s name in the list after you’ve pressed the key combination.

If your keyboard has not connected in a few seconds, press the combination of keys and the keyboard listing again.

If the keyboard refuses to connect, change the batteries and try again.

Magic Cube Virtual Keyboard

Magic Cube Virtual Laser Keyboard

Magic Cube Virtual Keyboard

At last, there’s a full-sized virtual laser keyboard specifically designed to work with iPhones and iPads running iOS4.

Due 2011, the Magic Cube by Celluon is apparently also a multi touch capable mouse and a handwriting recognition device.

Chris Chon, Director of Sales at Celluon tells me Magic Cube will be revealed at the CES in Las Vegas, January 2011.

I, for one, am looking forward to it. The Magic Cube sounds like the must-have device for iPhone writers who want to travel as light as possible. A full-sized keyboard AND mouse AND handwriting recognition in a device barely larger than a matchbox sounds like an iPhone writer’s dream.

Magic Cube will be available from online distributors late January 2011 at a cost of US$$199.99.

Caps Lock On

Enabling Caps Lock on Your iPhone and iPad

To enable Caps Lock on your iPhone or iPad, tap on Settings.

Settings

Settings.

Tap on General.

General

General

Tap on Keyboard.

Keyboard Settings

Keyboard Settings

Turn Enable Caps Lock on.

Enable Caps Lock in Settings

Enable Caps Lock in Settings

Now you can turn on Caps Lock, when you’re using the on-screen keyboard, by tapping twice on the Shift key. When Caps Lock is enabled, the Shift key will turn blue.

Caps Lock On

Caps Lock On

Tap the Shift key again to turn Caps Lock off. When Caps Lock is off, the Shift key will be grey.

Caps Lock Off

Caps Lock Off

It's 8:14 on the status bar

How to Jump to the Top of a Document

It's 8:14 on the status bar

So you’re writing on your iPhone, you’re at the bottom of a long document and you want to get to the top as quickly as possible. You could scroll up by swiping your finger at the screen, but a long document takes time to scroll through.

You can jump to the top of a document instantly by tapping the status bar. That’s the grey bar with the time and battery status at the very top of your screen.

This tip also works for long webpages in Safari.

There’s no official way to jump to the bottom of a document. Keep checking this blog, and I’ll let you know if Apple add that feature.

Arrow Keys

Why No Arrow Keys on the iPhone?

Arrow Keys

Because editing text requires the most precise cursor control of any iPhone function, arrow keys would revolutionise writing on the iPhone with the on-screen keyboard

Being a millimetre or two out when you’re poking your finger at a game sprite is rarely enough to ruin your game. But if you’ve typed wont instead of won’t, and your iPhone hasn’t autocorrected your mistake because wont is a word, sticking the apostrophe in before the W or after the O just won’t work.

iOS4, the current iPhone operating system, relies on a magnifying glass system to place a cursor in text. First, you poke at the portion of the screen where you’d like the cursor to go. Then you wait. It takes a second or so for the magnifying glass to activate, most likely so people won’t accidentally set it off every time they brush their fingers across the screen. These seconds can drag on for years when you have a lot of editing to do and you’re right in the flow of writing.

Finally, the magnifying glass appears, enlarging the text so that you can focus on dragging the cursor where you need it. Usually, the cursor overshoots the area you’re aiming for, and you have to grit your teeth, maintain pressure and drag your finger back, while feeling frustrated at all the time you’re wasting. If you accidentally release pressure, perhaps if you’re on a bus and it hits a bump in the road, the magnifying glass will disappear, and you have to go through it all again.

There’s a simple solution: arrow keys. There’s no wait with arrow keys. Simply press them and the cursor moves immediately, with character-by-character accuracy.

Unfortunately, arrow keys aren’t part of the official iPhone on-screen keyboard. There’s an app called 5-Row QWERTY Keyboard, which adds a top row of number keys to the on-screen keyboard, and a secondary keyboard with arrow keys. But it only works on jailbroken iPhones. There’s no chance of an official arrow key app, according to programmer Brice on Elance.com, when I tried to get one made in July 2010, because such an app would go against the SDK agreement.

If I’m wrong about that, and Apple has changed their minds since then, please let me know!

Until Apple comes to their senses, there is a way to get arrow keys onto your iPhone without jailbreaking your iPhone. Just use a Bluetooth keyboard.