We're going to be typing on glass a lot more in the future. Acer has just released a dual-screen laptop which, though it has a lot of shortcomings, is a sign of the possibilities.
What's so great about typing on on glass? First, it removes the root of many computer failures. If you've ever tried to limp along with a laptop that was fine except for that one stuck key, you know the problem. It is silly that a several thousand dollar machine can be felled by a spring. Next, it's hygienic. Keyboards are gross. Last, it is easily reconfigurable. On the iPad you can load several different keyboards and easily switch between them. Apple doesn't have to manufacture a differently keyboarded device for every culture. They don't currently have a mathematical keyboard that you can bring up, but that's a possibility and some of the calculator apps use the app part of the screen plus the text keyboard to effect the same thing. We haven't even begun to see where the glass keyboard can go.
The iPad glass keyboard works a little differently from a standard touch keyboard. I've seen some complaints on app reviews that weren't about the app at all but rather about not knowing how to use the keyboard. First, if you do use more that one typing method or are used to a keyboard from another culture, go ahead and load up that keyboard. A world button will appear next to the space bar which makes it easy to switch between keyboards. This is fantastic for language learners who can now learn on the proper keyboard for their language.
The keyboard guesses when you want to capitalize and there will be a little blue in the shift key. If you don't want to capitalize, just touch it take that off. If you want caplock, press the shift key twice. The keyboard is a one key at a time device. This is like your smartphone: you press shift, then you press the letter; you don't have to hold them together. There are two other things hiding on the main keyboard: if you hold the comma key, you get a foot mark (commonly used for an apostrophe in quick typing such as notes or email). If you hold the period key, you get an inch mark (commonly used for a quote mark in those situations). For accent marks, hold the key and then slide your finger over the accented letter that pops up. For example, if you hold the "e" key on the United States keyboard, you get eight accent choices.
Now click the key to go to the number and symbols board. There are some things hidden here too:
- Holding the n-dash key gets you some choices, including an m-dash.
- Hold zero to get a degree.
- Hold $ to get other currency symbols.
- Hold & to get the section sign.
- Hold the period to get ellipses.
- Hold the question mark or the exclamation mark to get the inverted symbols.
- The apostrophe and the quote mark get you several choices, including real apostrophe and quote marks.
- On this keyboard there is a symbol key to get you further symbols.
The spell-check on the iPad does learn, but until it learns it is a bit dictatorial. Clicking the tiny "x" to cancel a spelling correction does not always work for me. Backspacing when a spelling correction appears generally cancels the correction. Sometimes that doesn't work out and the last solution is that the third time you re-type a word it will not be corrected. Spell-check can also be used to your advantage: if it's got the correct work, press space and move on.
Safari on iPad has it's limitations, and one of them is that typing windows don't lengthen as you type. This is a problem in Facebook, for example. The solution is to type what needs typing on the notepad, and then copy-and-paste it back into the webpage where you want it to stay.
Lastly, the iPad has a privacy problem. Since you generally use it flat or at a slight angle, it is visible to everyone. Since iPads are not adopted into our culture yet, a lot of people stare. I keep my diary on my iPad, so this is an extra problem. Awesome Note allows you to control the font size so that you can scale it down to where you can barely read it from your seat, and it would take some effort for someone to read it walking by. Unfortunately, none of the other programs that I use for typing allow control of font size.
You can use a bluetooth keyboard with the iPad. I bought one, but I just don't use it. I guess if there was some sustained amount of typing I wanted to do I might use it, especially if I were in a situation where touch typing were more crucial, such as typing notes at a meeting or in-person lecture. As it is, my spacial awareness is good enough to type on glass in all the situations that I currently encounter. It took about four weeks to develop that spacial awareness in my fingers, and I was already a fairly solid touch-typer at 40+ wpm.
And that's everything I know about typing on glass. If you've got some other tips, please post them!