Belkin was kind enough to send over two of their QODE (pronounced “code”) Bluetooth keyboards for review: the QODE Ultimate and QODE Thin Type. To be honest, the Thin Type is the keyboard I was initially looking forward to, but the QODE Ultimate turned out to be a pleasant surprise, with its clever use of magnets and all-in-one design.
The keyboards on each product are almost identical, with the exception of the combined function and number keys on the QODE Ultimate. The action on the keys is shallow, but there’s a satisfying thud that accompanies each keystroke that preserves the connection to the typing experience. The keys aren’t too clicky or noisy either, so you won’t be annoying any neighbours at Starbucks. The only thing I really don’t like is how the colon key was moved to the right of the spacebar. It’s something I can get used to, but even two weeks in, it still feels awkward.
I wouldn’t have heard about this latest update to the Logitech Ultrathin Magnetic Clip-on Keyboard Cover for iPad Air if it weren’t for Tools and Toys. The premise is still the same: it’s an aluminum cover that matches the iPad, with a nearly full-sized Bluetooth keyboard on the interior. It’s not a case you’ll take around for protection, but rather a sleek all-in-one typing package for writers on the go.
The new hotness comes in the form of a new tilting iPad dock that enables flexible viewing angles, and a terribly clever hidden magnetic latch. Previous versions of the cover had the magnetic latch hang loose while not in use, as it does on the iPad’s Smart Cover, but this latest version feels like something pulled out of a Tesla Model S. The latch is there when you need it as a cover, but tucks back into the body of the keyboard while you type (check out the Logitech website for a preview).
That said, previous versions of the Ultrathin are now on sale as a result. They used to retail for $100, but they’re now on Amazon for about $70.
Logitech has been my go-to keyboard company for iPads for a while now, but the Belkin QODE Thin Type Keyboard Case I just learned about (via iClarified) looks like a really cool alternative to the popular Logitech Ultrathin. The QODE still latches on to the front of an iPad Air via magnets, but it has a few extra tricks up its sleeve:
- an all-aluminum design to match the Air (in silver or slate grey)
- a weight sensor that turns the keyboard on or off, depending on whether the iPad is docked
- an angled keyboard, which is likely a little more comfortable for typing
I don’t think the QODE is revolutionary by any means, but it’s an interesting iteration on a category of $99 super-thin keyboards that haven’t really seen much innovation over the last few years. The QODE reviews I’ve seen on Amazon.com have been pretty positive thus far, and people are even singing the praises of the metal keys (which I’m still on the fence about). Of all the iPad keyboards I know off from ZAGG, Logitech, and Belkin, this is the one I’d be most interested in checking out.
Federico Viticci of MacStories recently unveiled version 4.0 of his website, and it’s gorgeous. One of the articles he chose to publish alongside the new design was a set of iOS 8 Wishes. I agree with most or all of the items on his list, but I think there was something missing. One of my major teeth-gnashing issue with iOS is the keyboard, which is in dire need of some loving.
The split keyboard that was added in iOS 5 was a crucial step in making data entry on the iPad more pleasant, but the whole way that auto-correct works on iOS is still far too obnoxious. I’m getting better at touch typing on my Air in landscape mode, and yet I frequently feel like I’m being punished for flying too quickly along the keys when auto-correct swoops in at the very last second. Carefully spelled names (e.g. Connelly) are suddenly changed to completely ridiculous little phrases (e.g. “comely it”), and I end up having to break the flow of my writing to head back and correct stupid typos caused by auto-correct.
I take issue with how auto-corrections are displayed. It’s workable in apps like iMessage — where the text I’m typing is situated directly above the keyboard — but it can be a real pain in the app (heyo!) when the text is any higher up on the screen. Does Apple really think it’s ergonomic or efficient for me to lift my fingers off the keyboard, dismiss a hilariously small auto-correct pop-up with a tap, and return to typing? The Blackberry, Android, and Windows Phone 8.1 OSes all feature keyboards that intelligently show auto-correction possibilities in close proximity to the keyboard, which just makes sense to me. It’s so much easier to dismiss erroneous corrections that way. The keyboard is usually where your eyes are focused, and your fingers are obviously directly above the keys as you type.
One of my biggest wishes for iOS 8 — right alongside better hardware keyboard support on the iPad — is for the system keyboard to get more than a fresh coat of paint. I think auto-correct needs a major overhaul on iOS, because it doesn’t just work. More often than not, it just works me over.
In iOS 5 the iPad keyboard isn’t static anymore. It’s got a few new tricks up its sleeve:
— You can split it in two by just using a natural tap and spread gesture, and you’ll end up with roughly half of the keyboard on the left, and roughly half on the right. To put it back together you can use fingers again to tap and push it back together, or you can tap and hold on the Hide Keyboard key and choose Dock and Merge. That will merge the keyboard back together and place it back down at the bottom of the page, in its ‘docked’ position.
— The iPad keyboard can also be moved up and down the screen. To do this you just tap and hold on the Hide Keyboard key and drag it to where you’d like it placed. You can move the keyboard around like this when it is split and when it is merged back together.
These changes take some getting used to, and there definitely some tradeoffs when using them. For instance, splitting the keyboard may make it more comfortable to type at times, but it also makes the individual keys substantially smaller. but
I’m still getting used to these new features for the iPad keyboard in iOS 5, but for now I’d say it’s quite nice to have them as options.
There have been rumors floating round for a while now about Mac OS X style Dashboard widgets for the iPad – as many have speculated that the built-in apps that are missing from the iPad home screen (Weather, Stocks, Calculator, Clock, Voice Memos) could be implemented nicely as widgets.
This week those rumors have gained a little steam with the observation – by a clever poster called macduke at the MacRumors site – that the iPad keyboard has a blank key smack dab in the middle of the top row of function keys. So the guess is that this key could easily be a Dashboard key when the iPad and its keyboard are released next month.
I’d quite like to see Dashboard on the iPad – it’s a great utility on a MacBook, and I’m sure it can be a great one on the iPad as well. What do you all think? Would you like to see Dashboard widgets for the iPad?