When I talked with Avi Kalderon last week about the virtues of and issues with the iPhone, as most people, he raved about the iPhone. But he pointed out, the absence of a tactile feedback from the touch keyboard does not allow him to type without looking at the keyboard. This, he said, could be awkward when typing while in a meeting, for example. He expressed a similar view in a comment to my last blog- A Finger vs. a Mouse- Thoughts on the iPhone 3G- Part I . This is a real issue for busy users or other multi-taskers.
My iPhone is rather new and I am still awed by the experience. So, I do not like to share the thrill of using it with another task, and this might explain why this aspect of the touch keyboard has not been an inconvenience for me as of yet. But, two things bother me sometimes regarding the touch keyboard.
My first discomfort with the touch keyboard is its absence most of the time. I got used to have a keyboard available any time I need it and to not have to prompt for it and wait a second or two for its appearance. This might also explain why we do not have quick-keys shortcuts on the iPhone (the BlackBerry has it, as Avi pointed out). At the same time, I understand that the usual absence of the touch keyboard gives us more available touch screen area and the inclusion of a physical keyboard would make the overall device thicker and thus less appealing both visually and tactilely.
My second inconvenience with the current implementation of the touch keyboard is related to the special characters and numerals. When you like to type a numeral or a special character, you need to press the “@123” touch key to get an array of numbers and some special characters. So, you go from one special layout of the keyboard to another. This change of the spatial layout could be confusing. Would it be nice if the touch keyboard would be like most others- having an ‘alt’ key that will allow each touch key to have 2 options- all in one keyboard? Yes, the keyboard would look more crowded, but we got used to this situation in previously used mobile devices. I find it to be more practical.
Any thoughts? Feelings?