I believe this is where I step in. At least this is the way it has worked in the past (old habits are hard to break).
Originally Posted by mikec
To start with, Apple has had the good sense of moving the keyboard up from the very bottom edge of the phone. Placing the keyboard at the very bottom edge of the phone is required when you are trying to leave as much room for the screen as possible but if the keyboard IS the screen you have more freedom.
So with this in mind, lets consider everybody's main concern: using the device with one hand. In doing so this forces you to type and navigate with your thumb. Correct? I don't see many typing with their little pinky finger entirely wrapped around under the device and coming over the other side with the hardiest and handiest dexterity. I believe you are following me so I will continue.
So in grasping the phone and typing and navigating with your thumb, you will note that your thumb hangs over the phone from the side (depending on which hand you use, this would be the left side or the right side)— unless you have the desire to rotate your phone to a horizontal position to try and type (then it would be the bottom side - err, well once it is rotated, I suppose it would still be the left side or right side, but you get the picture). Yeh, I know, this would be stupid and doesn't make much since. Nobody types on their keyboard with it rotated 90 degrees; makes for a funny picture though.
Back to the thumb typing. So we left off with the thumb hanging over the side of the phone typing over the keyboard which is located at the very bottom of every, ummm.. "smart" phone made. But what happens when you try to hit the 6 or 7 keys in that lower inside corner of which your thumb joint overhangs.
Your thumb loses its nimble movement and the phone becomes unwieldy. If you are truly nimble, you are forced to type using the side of your thumb at the very least; again, losing any sort of sprightly pace.
It's little wonder that PALM has been so indecisive about those bottom row keys in the corner. Exchanging key character positions 3 times (or was it 4) over the last few years.
Anyway... Apple's solution was to make every key just as easy to hit as the rest simply by moving the keyboard up into the area that is in the natural range of movement for the thumb; WHICH, is what you would be using for one-handed use, as discussed earlier.
So now we are looking at two improvements made to the iPhone over every other smartphone available simply by moving the keyboard's "up-to-now standard" position.
1. Improved one-handed use
2. Improved keyboard ergonomics/ease of use
But there is more.
You will also note that your thumb is bigger around than your other typing fingers. Again, if you are using the phone with one hand you will be typing with your thumb from the lower corners. Apple has taken this into account and expanded the keys vertically to give your thumb a more effective surface area in the manner that it hits the screen when hanging over the phone from that usual lower corner. It seems that "smartphone" manufacturers may have picked up on this because keys do look more tall than wide but none do it to the degree that Apple does because again, they are looking to keep the keyboard confined as low as possible to provide more room for the screen.
In addition, and this may be the most important part, Apple also provides a visual feedback. This is something that is extremely helpful when looking at those miniscule keyboards (and don't try to tell me you type on a phone keyboard without looking. These keys are so small that there is no way possible for a human to keep their finger orientation while moving even at a moderately slow speed from one key to press and then to the next without looking. Can't be done. You need to look at a phone's keyboard. Anyone that argues otherwise is ignoring reality.
Back to why this visual feedback is helpful. Quite simple really. Your thumb is big (and finger too for that matter) and it obscures 4 or 5 keys at a time as it hovers over and approaches the next target key. That is until Apple built in a visual feedback that springs upward from the letter most directly beneath your thumb or finger. This gives you assurance that the correct letter will be typed. If the unintended character does not spring forth from where your eye and finger are pointing, guess what? You have the split second timing and dexterity to count on that is awarded to any functioning human. The keyboard character is not registered as being typed until your finger is pulled off the screen. You have the chance to roll or nudge of scoot (whatever you have the knack for) that thumb or finger over just a hair to get to the proper key and get the proper visual character to spring up.
This is the kind of feedback a miniscule keyboard needs. Not one in which your finger actually slows as it progresses through the pressing of a key. Not one in which your finger actually slows as you try to sense by touch if you are typing in the exact area required because you cannot see your finger tip hitting the key.
Part of what adds to the smoothness of typing on the iPhone is recognized when you realize that you do not actually need to fully depress a key for that clicking sensation or feedback. Well, that and the fact that you can actually have more than one finger in the process of entering text at once. That is to say more than one finger can be registered on screen at any given time (technically, I believe 10 is the limit - seems quite appropriate since all we have are 10 fingers anyway); so you can be entering one character with your left hand while touching the next with your right - yes, all at the same time.
Originally Posted by mikec
The video I saw didn't say anything about driving.