Tag Archives: touch typing

iPhone Tripod and Apple Wireless Keyboard

iPhone Writing Ergonomics

iPhone Tripod and Apple Wireless KeyboardHow can you stay productive for longer and avoid repetitive strain injury while writing on your iPhone?

The answer is ergonomics: the process of designing or arranging workspaces so that they fit the people who use them (Ergonomics in Australia 2011).

Ergonomics is usually applied to full-sized computer work stations but can be just as easily applied to writing on your iPhone. When you’re sitting down to write, make sure you do the following things:

1. Sit upright in your chair. Make sure your hips are as far back as they can go and your back is against the back rest.

2. Adjust your chair until your feet are flat on the floor, and your knees are the same height as your hips.

3. Adjust or get rid of your armrests, if they’re in the way.

4. Position your keyboard close and directly in front of you. Your shoulders should be relaxed and your wrists and hands straight.

5. When you’re writing on your iPhone, it’s tempting to use a folding Bluetooth keyboard for maximum portability. But folding keyboards usually lack an ergonomic tilt, and have small, cramped keys in awkward positions. For long-term productivity and comfort, use a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard.

6. Your iPhone needs to be centred in front of you and at eye-level. If you rest it flat on the table, your neck and eyes will start to ache. Buy an inexpensive tripod stand ($5 from eBay) and you will be amazed at the difference it makes to your comfort and productivity.

7. Minimise glare by positioning your iPhone at right angles to windows. The tripod stand makes it easy to adjust your iPhone’s position.

8. Take frequent breaks. Stretch and look away from the screen every twenty to thirty minutes. Once every hour, stash your iPhone, tripod stand and keyboard in your bag and go for a five minute walk.


Ergonomics in Australia 2011, Victoria, Australia, viewed 11 February 2011, http://www.ergonomics.com.au.

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.

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.

A word processor that fits in your pocket.

Why Do I Write on My iPhone?

A word processor that fits in your pocket.

A word processor that fits in your pocket.

So why have I starting blogging about writing on my iPhone?

Why should anyone even attempt to write on an iPhone at all?

The (rather blurry) photo on the right shows why.

It’s my writing kit, circa October 2010: a MP-0118+ Bluetooth keyboard (inside the black pouch) and an iPhone 3GS.

The whole package fits into the palm of my hand and weighs an incredible 341g (12 ounces). Only a notepad and pen can match an iPhone for sheer writing portability. But an iPhone, depending on the apps you use, can be a full-featured word processor and much, much more.

I use My Writing Nook, a word processing app that saves documents to the phone’s memory without being prompted and backs them up into the Cloud. This means I’ll never lose my documents, even if I lose my phone, and I can access them from any computer. Email backup, for extra peace of mind, is available at the touch of a button. My Writing Nook has a built-in dictionary and thesaurus, and works with a second app – TextExpander – to give me full autocorrect and spell checking on the fly. This is what you’d expect from a word processing program, such as Word, on a laptop or desktop computer. But while Microsoft Office will currently set you back nearly US$300, My Writing Nook is only US$3.99 and TextExpander US$5.99.

I’ll be straight with you; the MP-0118+ Bluetooth Keyboard is not the fastest keyboard I’ve ever used. To achieve its tiny size, it lacks a designated number and punctuation key row. This means a lot of incorrect keystrokes and hunting and pecking, especially in the beginning. But after five minutes, I was touch typing away on it quite happily. Even the most awkward Bluetooth keyboard is about ten times quicker than using the iPhone’s on-screen keyboard.

Of course, writers need more than just a word processor, and the iPhone can help you there too. If you need to research what you’re writing, the World Wide Web is only a press of the Home button away. You can send and receive emails, listen to music, illustrate your work with photos taken by the camera, or doodles from any one of the hundreds of graphical apps. There are apps for blogging, and recording and editing sound and video for uploading to your blog.

In short, an iPhone can be a useful, portable and inexpensive tool for writers. I’ll be using this blog to explore how I get the most out of my iPhone, especially in terms of getting text in and out, and how you can too.

MP-0118+ Bluetooth Keyboard

MP-0118+ Bluetooth Keyboard

MP-0118+ Bluetooth Keyboard

The MP-0118+ folding Bluetooth keyboard

The MP-0118+ Bluetooth Keyboard was my first folding Bluetooth keyboard. It’s the least expensive near full-sized folding Bluetooth keyboard on the market. (If you find a cheaper one, please let me know!)

Usually sold as a generic Bluetooth keyboard (try searching eBay for ‘folding Bluetooth keyboard’) the MP-0118+ comes with a a small driver CD (which you can cheerfully throw away if you only plan on using the keyboard with your iPhone), a neoprene zippered case, one cheap AAA battery with a working life of roughly three hours (a decent battery will last up to a hundred hours) and a slide-out, folding phone stand.

The MP-0118+ weighs 175g (including the case, stand and battery) takes one AAA battery, and folds up small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

Unfortunately, it achieves its small size by making compromises with the keyboard layout. There’s no dedicated number and symbol key row. Instead, numbers are incorporated into the top QWERTY row of letter keys, and can be accessed by hitting the Numlock Num key on the bottom row. Symbols and punctuation are incorporated into the top two rows of the keyboard, and can be accessed by hitting the Punct key on the bottom row. The space bar is oddly corrugated, and divided in half by the central hinge.

If you’re accustomed to touch typing, you’ll be spending the first five minutes feeling for the symbol keys and making lots of mistakes. The single and double quotes, and the colon and semicolon keys are in the correct place. But the up arrow key is where the question mark should be. You can only type a question mark by pressing the Punct key and (of all unintuitive keys) the letter F. The full stop (period) key is very close to the back arrow key, and I often find myself hitting it by mistake. Then I have to stop and move the cursor back out of the word I just typed. The H key on my keyboard is very stiff and sometimes requires a couple of presses before it produces a letter.

Looking back on what I’ve just wrote, I can see I’ve got lots of complaints and that’s really unfair to a keyboard that never really set itself up to be anything spectacular. What matters most is that the MP-0118+ is cheap and it works. Not spectacularly, but it’s still a major improvement over the on-screen iPhone keyboard. It has arrow keys, which are something that a writer really cannot do without, and you can touch type.

The MP-0118+ Bluetooth keyboard isn’t a terrific keyboard, but if you want dabble with writing on your iPhone, it’s the least expensive way to begin.