Virtual Keyboards and the iPhone 4S Multitouch Interface

Like other iPhones, the iPhone 4S dispenses with the physical dialing keypad and more complete QWERTY-style keyboard in favor of a multitouch display. This display is the heart of many things you do on the iPhone, and the controls change depending on the task at hand.

Unlike other phones with touchscreens, don’t bother looking for a stylus. You are meant, instead to “let your fingers do the walking.”

You have at your disposal several keyboard layouts in English, all variations on the alphabetical keyboard, the numeric and punctuation keyboard, and the more punctuation and symbols keyboard, six of which are shown here:

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The keyboard layout you see depends on the app you are working in. For instance, the keyboards in Safari differ from the keyboards in Notes.

What’s more, if you rotate the iPhone to its side, you get wider variations of the respective keyboards, like this one:

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Before you consider how to actually use the keyboard, know that the keyboards of the iPhone 4S have so-called intelligence. Knowing what makes this keyboard smart will help you make it even smarter when you use it. The iPhone keyboard

  • Uses a bundled English dictionary that even includes words from today’s popular culture.

  • Adds your contacts to its dictionary automatically.

  • Uses complex analysis algorithms to predict the word you’re trying to type.

  • Suggests corrections as you type. It then offers you the suggested word just below the word you typed. When you decline a suggestion and the word you typed is not in the iPhone dictionary, the iPhone adds that word to its dictionary and offers it as a suggestion if you mistype a similar word in the future.

    Remember to decline suggestions (by tapping the characters you typed as opposed to the suggested words that appear below what you’ve typed), because doing so helps your intelligent keyboard become even smarter.

  • Reduces the number of mistakes you make as you type by intelligently and dynamically resizing the touch zones for certain keys. You can’t see it, but the iPhone increases the zones for keys it predicts might come next and decreases the zones for keys that are unlikely to come next.

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