You may recall my first reviews of the iKeyboard, which were both written prior to release of the final version. Even working with the prototypes, I was sold on the concept of having the ability to touch-type on my iPad, without requiring me to lug around a clunky external keyboard. I know, some will say that they're small, and can easily fit into a briefcase or purse. Well, to that I respond - so can a laptop. The main attraction of the iPad is that it is a compact and self-contained device, capable of doing much of what a computer can do. Start adding external accessories and you're losing out on the real benefit of the device.
So, when I first learned of this project on Kickstarter, I was very interested. Kickstarter is a program in which you may invest in the development of some undeveloped product or idea. Some are better than others, and this is the only one I've actually been personally involved in. When I learned that the developer was an attorney, I was even more interested. Cliff Thier, a Connecticut transactional and litigation attorney had a dream, and thanks to Kickstarter, had some funding.
The Kickstarter program allowed one to invest at a few different levels, one of them which would include a first-generation iKeyboard, and also the second, once released. Since I review a good number of apps and software, I was also sent an early prototype.
This version worked well, but was a little bit on the clunky side, due to its method of attachment to the iPad, using small side clips, making it difficult to use with most iPad cases. Even so, touch-typing on the iPad was now a reality. Having the tactile “feel” of typing, along with the “F” and “J” home key reference bumps means you can actually type without looking at the keyboard.
The current version utilizes a series of sticky “magnets,” which hold it securely to the iPad’s screen.
If you have to ask me why touch typing is so important, I probably won't have an answer that will satisfy you. If you're convinced that looking at your on-screen keyboard is good enough for you get things done on your iPad, I'd guess that you fall into the category of the majority of users, who see their iPad as a great way to do a lot of things, but probably aren't doing a lot of typing.
Backing up a few years - quite a few, actually, I really learned how to type by using a DOS program, called Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. Sadly, it appears that dear Ms. Bacon hasn't introduced a typing app for the iPad yet, but there are a few others available. In any event, back in 5 or 10 B.C. (before computers), I never had the need to learn how to do it correctly, since for the limited amount of typing I was doing at the time, I was able to get by with the hunt and peck method. I can still recall playing a game which had words falling downward on the screen that you had to type before they crashed to the ground. Seems like a sorry excuse for a game, but here I am many years later, cranking out a good number of legal technology articles each year, in addition to making a living using computers in trial presentation, which also requires a mastery of the skill. Mavis Beacon, I owe you one.
Back to the future, and my review of the iKeyboard. I will say that other than a very brief test, writing this article is the first time I've used the commercially available version, and although I'm a little slower than I might be on my laptop, I'm still a heck of a lot faster than typing on the iPad's display, which is really little more than a modern version of hunt and peck typing.
According to Cliff Thier, the key tension and response are designed to emulate the Apple keyboard. While I can't personally say whether they've nailed it, I will say that it does take a little time to get the feel of it, but once you do, your typing speed increases a great deal.
In order to be comfortable while typing, I'd recommend getting something like the Candy Convertible case, which I'm using now and have reviewed, or the Apple Smart Cover. Either of these (and there are others) will allow you to add a slight angle to your iPad, making it much easier to read what you're typing - because you're not looking at those keys any more now, are you?
In conclusion, for $35, you can add touch-typing to your iPad, and you won't have to carry around chargers, batteries, or other external accessories in order to do so. Not a bad investment, available in black or white.