Oh, at long last! Apple just announced at WWDC that iOS 9 will have vastly improved keyboard support on the iPad, for both the software and hardware keyboards.
Two fingers anywhere on the iPad screen will now move the cursor around, even if your fingers are right over the keyboard. This works for moving the cursor around, as well as selecting text. Apps like Ulysses and iA Writer Pro offer features like this with their own custom solutions, but Apple’s universal solution will work across all apps.
Built-in Shortcut Bar on the QuickType bar make it easier to cute and paste while using a software keyboard, which should prove to be a pretty big time saver over the long haul. Think about the way cutting and pasting works now:
- you double tap on screen and then drag to select text
- wait to tap on the cut pop-up
- tap and hold elsewhere
- wait to tap on the paste pop-up
Combine the new text selection and built-in Shortcut Bar, and text manipulation becomes a lot faster. My fingers can stay on the keys for writing and editing, and cutting and pasting will be faster when I don’t have to wait for a pop-up animation.
However, it’s really the final feature that I’ve been waiting years for: proper hardware keyboard shortcut support. Pressing one of the modifier keys (Cmd, Option, or Control) will highlight shortcuts across the screen in any app, and I think this will be the key to making keyboard shortcuts a more universal feature on the iPad. Cmd + Tab will work for app switching (YES!), but I’m pretty sure this will apply to all the little things, like pressing Cmd + Enter to send an iMessage without having to tap the screen. This will make my favourite keyboards, the Belkin QODE Ultimate Pro and Logitech Ultrathin, a lot more useful.
These features are big enough that I may jump on the public beta of iOS 9 this July, despite the app compatibility issues and battery impact it will likely have.