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When the iPhone was first released, one of the most striking and unique things about it was that it had no physical keyboard. All typing on the iPhone is done via a screen-based virtual keyboard. These days, it's pretty common for smartphones to not have physical keyboards, but if you're new to the iPhone and especially if you're transitioning from a phone that had real keys, there are still some things you need to get used to. For one thing, you don't feel any buttons under your fingers, so you do have to keep your eyes on the screen to make sure your words are coming out correctly. Fortunately, the iPhone Operating System has a great built-in auto-correction system that can infer what you're trying to type in most cases, even if you spelled it horribly wrong.
The trick is to understand that it will take some time to get used to typing and to trust the auto-correction system. If you think about it, having no actual keys opens up a world of possibilities. Since the iPhone is not limited by a set physical keyboard, iPhone developers are free to create input systems in multiple languages or special characters, and all they have to do is create the keys they need you to press to interact with their applications and they can place them anywhere on the screen that makes sense. So let's begin by taking a look at the basics of typing with the screen-based keyboard. For this example, I'm going to use the included Notes app.
I'll tap the + symbol to create a New Note. Now I'm looking at a blank note and the keyboard has appeared at the bottom half of the screen. The keyboard will show up any time you tap into a field where you're supposed to type. To type, just tap the letters. Notice that the letters you're tapping appear above your finger in a nice large size so you can visually confirm that you're on the letter you want. The enlarged version of the letter will stay there until your finger breaks contact from the screen and that's probably one of the most fundamental things to know about typing on the iPhone or the iPod touch. Characters you type are not entered until your finger leaves the screen.
That means if I touch the wrong letter and notice that before I release, I can just slide over to the correct letter and then release my finger. Now, if I enter a wrong letter or a word by accident, I can just tap the Delete key to delete the letter or words and then continue typing. Now, let's say I want to add a colon here. Special characters and numbers are accessed by tapping this button in the lower left-hand corner. Now, I can enter the colon and I'll tap Return to go down to the next line.
Now, here's a tip directly related to what I was saying about characters not appearing until you lift your finger from the screen. Let's say I wanted to put a parenthesis at the beginning of this line. I can see the open and close parenthesis characters when I tap the character's button, but a quick way to access those keys from the letter keyboard is to touch the character's button and then slide my finger over to the character I want, before I release my finger and then release. The character is added to my Note and the keyboard instantly reverts to the letter keyboard and I can continue typing without having to tap Return to the letter keyboard.
So, that's the basics of working with the keyless keyboard. It will definitely take some practice in getting used to if you're new to it. Keep in mind that most apps that use the keyboard will allow you to rotate the phone to landscape mode, which makes the key slightly larger and easier to hit. Though once you get better, you should be able to type quickly in both portrait and landscape mode. In the upcoming movies, we'll look at the most important techniques and tips for becoming an efficient iPhone or iPod touch typist.
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