Apple continues to come out with more and more features and expanded functionality on all of their devices, and while some generate their own news stories, some features roll out to a little less publicity.
These quieter improvements are often lost in the sea of features and functions that iOS has, and some of the best ones have to do with something that every iOS user needs and uses constantly: the keyboard.
There are so many things that your simple, little iOS keyboard can do that you may not know about, that it might surprise you. Their presence may depend on what version of iOS you’re running, and whether or not you have 3D Touch on your device, but most users will be able to access these hidden gems.
Fast Alpha-Numeric Switching
One of the most cumbersome things about typing a combination of letters, numbers, and sometimes even symbols in the same sentence, is that usually, you will need to switch the keyboard mode at least once to do so. The good news is that you don’t have to use the keyboard mode as a strict on/off toggle, there’s an option to fast-switch between your usual qwerty keyboard and the second layout with numbers and symbols.
The next time you need to enter a few digits or symbols in your current sentence, rather than just tapping the “123” button, press and hold it, and then use your other thumb to type the characters you need. When you’re done with the input, simply release the “123” button and the layout returns to normal.
Super Secret Trackpad
Every update of iOS since version 12 has included trackpad functionality in the keyboard. With the keyboard active, just long-press on the spacebar, and in a moment the labels of the keys will disappear, leaving you with a large trackpad area.
This lets you easily slide your cursor to exactly where you need it, rather than trying to tap it into place, which is great for those of us with larger digits. If your device has 3D Touch, you can just use pressure anywhere on the active keyboard to activate trackpad functionality.
This is another feature that is an absolute life-saver when you have issues selecting or highlighting text with the usual taps and drags. With the regular spacebar-initiated trackpad, you’ll need to place the cursor where you need to begin highlighting text, then use a second finger to tap the keyboard and drag the selection area in whatever direction the highlighting is needed.
It’s a little different with the 3D Touch devices, however, since you can do it with a single finger, you’ll need to manage the pressure level. Once you’re in trackpad mode, reduce the pressure slightly while your finger remains on the screen. From there you have a few options, a single press selects the current word, double pressing selects the current sentence, a triple press selects the entire paragraph, and doing a press and drag will allow a customised highlighting.
For those that enjoy typing with one hand, there are keyboard layouts that make this much easier, keeping one of your hands-free for, well, whatever you need. Go into the keyboard picker, and you’ll find embedded options to move the stock keyboard to one side or the other, depending on which hand you’d like to dedicate to typing.
This feature moves the keyboard over a little bit, as well as squeezes the keys so that a one-handed reach is easier. Depending on whether you have other keyboards or layouts installed, the location of the one-handed setting may vary.
Enrich Your Mail
When composing emails, there are several features embedded in the keyboard that will help you make more appealing and dynamic email content. In iOS 13+ you will be given a toolbar that gives you some decent formatting options like font, insertion of pictures, scanning docs, adding files, and even using markup language. When in the Mail app, tap the “<” key.
Build Your Own Shortcuts
Apple is incredible at making things faster and easier, but they also included functionality in their keyboard for you to increase your own productivity with shortcuts. These are keywords that you can enter that will automatically convert to anything you like.
You can tell it to insert your email anytime you type a codeword. You can have it insert your favourite emojis or old-school emoticons with a special character or phrase. You can even set up shortcuts to have the keyboard automatically insert specific and often-used URLs. For the extra-spicy power users, you can even shortcut your favourite profanity, the possibilities are endless.
The Best iOS Keyboard Features You Might Not Be Using Enough
It can be hard to keep track of all the various features that Apple rolls out, especially since they are constantly updating their products. However, keeping up with some of the best ways to input your thoughts and ideas can give you an edge in productivity, both personally and professionally.