Tag Archives: iOS4

Gorilla iPhone Stand

iPod Touch Writing

This post is a response to an email sent by a reader.

Chronically ill, she spends a lot of time on a recliner writing and surfing the web, but her 17 inch laptop is too heavy to keep on her lap.

She’s thinking about getting an iPad to write on, but she also wants to know if she’d be just as happy writing on her iPod Touch instead.

I replied:

Sorry to hear that you’re sick. Writing is such a good way to be productive when you’re too unwell to do anything else.

I think you could be just as happy with a Bluetooth Keyboard and your iPod Touch. But first, I need to check a few things with you.

How old is your iPod Touch? If it can run iOS4 you’re good to go. It means you can use all the latest word processing apps and connect to a Bluetooth keyboard too.

Do you already own a Bluetooth keyboard? (You mention “the Bluetooth keyboard” in your email, so it sounds like you’ve already got one.)

If you don’t have a Bluetooth keyboard, I recommend the Apple Wireless Keyboard. It’s cheap (only $100 or so new) and extremely comfortable and light. It works beautifully with Mac devices running iOS4 and with laptops as well. This means even if you decide not to write on your iPod Touch, the keyboard isn’t wasted. You can put your heavy laptop onto a nearby table and write on it using the feather-light Apple Wireless Keyboard on your lap.

If you want to write on your iPod Touch, I recommend starting out with a free app. The Mail app is built into the iPod Touch. Just do your writing in an email and email it to your laptop when you’re finished.

If you enjoy that, get yourself a tripod for your iPod Touch so you can write more ergonomically. This extendable tripod only costs about $6 from eBay:

iPhone Tripod Stand

Tripod stand - try searching eBay for "iPhone tripod"

It will be useful if you want to put your iPod Touch on a nearby table at eye level. You can balance it on your recliner too (I use it on my bed) but you’ll have to hold it steady each time you move.

If you want to attach your iPod Touch to your recliner, you might want to try a Gorilla-style tripod such as this one:

Gorilla iPhone Stand

Gorilla iPhone stand - try searching eBay for "Gorilla iPhone stand"

The flexible legs can wrap around the arms of your recliner and hold your iPod Touch steady.

The next step in iPod Touch writing would be purchasing the TextExpander app for autocorrection as you type. You could also buy a word processing app. There are hundreds available. I recommend My Writing Spot or Notebooks if you don’t use formatting such as italics or bolding in your writing. If you use formatting, Doc2 is an inexpensive, but fully featured app.

So there you are. I hope that answered your questions. If you have any more, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Regards,

Charl

charl@iphonewriting.com

http://www.iphonewriting.com/

Twitter: iPhoneWriting

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.