How can we make PadKeys better?

Make Basic Characters More Accessible

Use the OPTION key for access to apostrophes, quotation and exclamation marks, parentheses, regular as well as m and n dashes, dollar signs and a DELETE key, along with CHANGE CASE keys...ALL being the characters most frequently used moment-by-moment for texting messages and emails.

There comes a point where too many features... "cooks in the kitchen," so to speak—or characters, in this case—ruin the day-to-day practicality of the "soup" in your app.

Peter Donoso

8 votes
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  • F Hiew commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    [iPhone 6/7/8 version]

    I've finally discovered why I thought there was a layout change on 10 June...

    There was actuallu no layout update: I must have accidentally switched from English (UK) to English (US), which has a different and superior layout. The English (UK) layout is vastly inferior to the standard Apple iOS keyboard, as it lack an equals (=) [Can you believe it has "greater than or equal to" (≥) and "less than or equal to" (≤) but it lacks an equals sign (=)?] and a degree (˚) symbol, and the colon (an extremely common punctuation mark, and which is also required for typing the time, lists and smileys) is annoyingly difficult to type, as it requires switching around to find the correct combination of two modifier keys (can you believe it is easier to type rarely-used Greek and mathematical symbols than it is to type a colon? The standard iOS keyboard is superior in this respect.)

    The English (US) layout is far better: when you press Option, you get all the punctuation symbols you would expect (apart from the ones already accessible from the main keyboard): colon, semicolon, apostrophe, double quotes, hyphen, at the expense of omitting a few characters most people would never use: pi (π), phi (ø), delta (∆), a duplicate "@" and the fi/fl ligatures (which appear onscreen as separate letters anyway, not as ligatures, so having them on the English (UK) keyboard is wasting real estate).

    Those people wanting delta, pi and phi could easily use the Apple iOS Greek language keyboard.

    So what we need is for the English (UK) keyboard layout to match the English (US/AU/NZ/CA) layouts.
    I wonder if you could update that? I'm sure UK users will be getting very frustrated by the missing equals sign and the colon, which is harder to type than on the standard iOS keyboard!

    My advice to UK users is to use the English (AU/NZ) keyboard, as it has UK spelling with the superior version of the keyboard layout.

    I wonder if the Padkeys team could comment on whether this could be done?

    [I use Padkeys on an iPhone: I don't know if the iPad English (UK) version has the same problem]

  • F Hiew commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    [iPhone 6/7/8 version]

    Dear Padkeys team,

    Yesterday's layout update is a much-needed improvement! Thank you so much! All of a sudden yesterday it had an updated layout where the colon, semicolon, apostrophe and double quotes are where I expected them to be, and available with just a single modifier key: well done :). =

    Now we can type a colon without fumbling around toggling the different modifier keys on and off to try to find the right combination!
    It was very annoying that previously it was very easy to type a rare Greek or typesetting character, yet extremely difficult to type a colon.

    While it may sound like it was only a minor issue, it was much more significant, as many users typically type colons many times a day (e.g. smileys, "Coming home at 7:30", "Isaiah 53:6"), and the standard Apple Keyboard was vastly superior than Padkeys for typing basic punctuation. For me it prevented me from recommending PadKeys to others. But not anymore: this simple update has made Padkeys what it should be.

    The equals sign has returned after having vanished for some weeks (at least on the iPhone version!). [I was very annoyed when it vanished some weeks ago, whilst the less used <, >, ≤ and ≥ occupied a prominent place to the right of the letter M, where we would expect common punctuation marks to be found.]. Yesterday's layout update has fixed that.

    Finally I now feel I can recommend Padkeys to others now that these issues are fixed.

    Thank you again, guys.

  • F Hiew commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    [iPhone 6/7/8 version]

    Hi Padkeys team,
    The new update 4.4 is interesting, but it appears hardly an improvement.

    [1.] Firstly, the Equals (=) sign no longer exists, at the expense of <, >, ≤, and ≥!!!!!!

    [2.] Very disappointing that it is still very difficult to type a colon. Both Option + Shift and "hold-and-slide" methods are quite fiddly to use, especially if you are in a hurry to send your SMS text.

    Given that we need the colon to type a smiley :) or :-), and the smiley is one of the most common punctuation marks used on a phone, it is quite disappointing.

    In fact, sadly it is easier to type obscure Greek letters and typesetting symbols (after six months of using Padkeys, I have never used any of them) than it is to type a colon!

    [3.] The Option keyboard seems to have changed a bit. I think it is now a bit easier to type a hyphen, apostrophes and double quotes than before, as I think they used to require two separate modifier keys to type.

    [4.] I still think the Option keyboard should roughly follow the format of the standard Apple numeric entry keyboard. The special characters (Greek, Mathematical and typesetting symbols) can go where the numerals are, and in the suggestion bar area (if it is usable). I have attached a suggested format for the Option keyboard and the Option-Shift keyboard. Note that a lot of characters e.g. the Angstrom, copyright and C-cedilla characters have been removed from my suggested layout, as it is intuitive to put them in the "hold-and-slide" menus on the main keyboard.

    (a). New users (and friends using your device) will expect standard English punctuation to be available when you press the button in the lower left of the keyboard
    (b). We need to be able to type colons, underscores etc far more often than mathematical symbols and typesetting marks. It is just too fiddly to have to hunt around with _combinations_ of two modifier keys just to type a smiley face in an SMS text message, or to type the underscore in one's email address!

    [5.] I'm not sure moving the double quote (") to Option-2 easier. Decades ago that was where it was on a typewriter keyboard, but it has been located at Shift-apostrophe on a keyboard for a long time.

    [6.] It would be good if the "hold-and-slide" pop-up menus were as big as they are in the standard Apple keyboard! Your thumb obstructs visibility of the "hold-and-slide" symbols with the Padkeys keyboard.

  • AdminPadKeys (Support, PadKeys) commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Thank you F Hiew for your analysis and suggestions, as well as others who have taken the time to write before. We will try to address some of this in the next release but one. (The next release is coming out later this month and has many improvements but in different areas.)

  • F Hiew commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    PadKeys is great! Thanks for your thoughtfulness and hard work!! :)

    I agree with Peter on this issue heartily:

    1. The standard Apple iOS keyboard is far superior to PadKeys when it comes to typing common characters such as the colon, apostrophe and double quotes. The standard Apple keyboard only requires a single modifier key press to get these.
    - "Holding-and-sliding" is rather slow and unwieldy
    - it's more intuitive to use "hold-and-slide" for variant forms (e.g. accented versions) of the basic key, than for totally different characters. You have to know where they are first.
    - Also, a _significant_ problem is that your thumb obstructs visibility of the various symbols as you slide around (Try holding "L" and then sliding around to select the semicolon: it is obstructed, and it's hard to tell if you have selected the colon or the semicolon!!!)
    - Apple have alleviated the problem of the thumb obstructing visibility of "hold-and-slide" characters by giving them extra height, so you can slide your thumb down a bit. Padkeys in inferior in this regard.

    2. Most users would expect to use SHIFT rather than "holding-and-sliding-around" to get a colon or apostrophe, although having both methods is also okay.

    2. Most users use colons, apostrophes, hyphens, double quote marks far more than they use mathematical symbols. Being able to quickly type a simple text message is way more important than typing equations!

    3. Remember a phone is not a PC! Scientists and programmers might use mathematical symbols a fair bit at their workplace on a PC, but I would guess that most software developers and scientists rarely need to type them on a phone or iPad!

    4. Many people type simple smileys manually using characters e.g. :) :-) ;-) etc, rather than by using the graphic emojis. One reason being that when sending an SMS text message, graphical emojis reduce the character limit from 160 to 70 characters. Another reason is that many people don't like to us separate graphic emoji screens. If you uses several languages, having an emoji keyboard can by an annoyance. So having Colons (etc) in easy reach is a must for a phone!

    My Suggested Solutions:
    (I'm referring to portrait mode, iPhone 6/7/8 here. Some of this may differ for landscape mode or iPad)

    (1.) When SHIFT or CAPS LOCK is pushed:
    - the space bar narrows in width
    - the cursor arrow keys disappear
    - keys appear on the right of the space bar for HYPHEN (-) (long press for em dash, en dash, underscore), SEMICOLON (;), COLON (:), APOSTROPHE ('), and DOUBLE QUOTES (").
    Reason: People usually don't use the space bar or cursor keys once they have pressed SHIFT or CAPS LOCK

    (2.) I would suggest the OPTION keyboard follows the standard Apple iOS keyboard's [123] screen layout for the two middle rows, with PadKeys' SHIFT button behaving just like the standard iOS keyboard's [*+=]. button. Additional characters could occupy the number row and perhaps even the spelling suggestion row.

    The OPTION key is where the standard iOS "123" switch key is located, so many people will be used to pressing that key to type regular punctuation marks.
    That way, there is no learning adjustment needed for new users who are used to hitting the key in the bottom left corner to get punctuation marks!

    (3.) Make the pop-up "hold-and-slide" keys _much_ taller, with the label at the top of the key, and a bit wider, so that one's thumb does not have to block your view of the character!

    (4.) The current plethora of mathematical, Greek and typesetting symbols could treated just like another "language", just as you would access French, Swedish or Dutch.

    (5.). Alternatively, the mathematical, Greek and typesetting symbols could have their own screen within the OPTION keyboard, perhaps with a button between the Globe key and the space bar.

    (6.) Speaking of Greek letters: it's understandable that you have chosen to restrict PadKeys to Latin-based keyboards. With thousands of different character sets worldwide, it would be opening a Pandora's box to try to handle them all, especially for Asian languages!!!

    However it might be worth considering an exception for the Greek alphabet, for the following reasons:
    - 1. PadKeys already has a fair number of Greek letters already!
    - 2. Having Greek as a separate language would free up some valuable space
    - 3. The Latin alphabet was originally derived from the Greek alphabet
    - 4. Greek letters are used by the scientific community
    - 5. Greek letters (with accents and breathing marks) are used by the theological community
    - 6. Additionally, many people use Bible apps and Bible Study apps on their iPads/iPhones, and some users commonly use Greek letters with these.

    Anyway: great job guys!

  • Dataweaver commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    The vast majority of the punctuation symbols are available without using either shift or opt, by holding certain keys:

    • holding 4/$ gives you an assortment of currency symbols
    • holding '/" gives you an assortment of quotes and apostrophes
    • holding //? gives you an assortment of punctuation marks
    • holding 8/* gives you an assortment of footnote marks: †, ‡, §
    • holding -/_ gives an assortment of hyphens.

    For the most part, the current approach works well: commonly used characters are available from the main keyboard without the need to use opt, and often without needing shift; and less common characters are available via the opt keyboard. If you replace anything on the opt keyboard with something more commonly used, please move the replaced character to a popup somewhere. For example, if you choose to retask the opt-5 key, you should move ∞ elsewhere (like, say, to the 0 key’s popup).

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