March 24, 2012 1 Comment
To me the keyboard of a computer comes as natural as wearing a belt with my jeans. It just seems like they should go hand in hand, but reality all I need is likely tighter jeans at the waist to eliminate the need for said belt.
Something I have noticed since the dawn of the iPad for business is that employees of companies who are not power users are more comfortable with using an iPad over a Laptop. It’s not just that, but most of them are also comfortable without using an external keyboard and don’t really complain that they don’t have one. Within a few days, they are using the virtual keyboard like a boss. This is much harder for those of us who have used a keyboard for years. We whine like a baby who just had our favorite pacifier taken away.
I am convinced that the external keyboard should go away and I am also convinced that the virtual keyboard can become just as productive. To prove my point, I have written this post with just my virtual keyboard. I have used my Marware case to have the iPad angled in a position that represents a keyboard angle so that everything aligns into the correct placements so
I won’t aggravate any tendinitis in my wrists. I have used this setup for simple things before but never for something as long as a blog post before. To my surprise, after a few little mishaps along the way, I am using the keyboard just as well as I use an external one.
We all know the old idiom that states you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. While the idiom itself itself is not true, it speaks to the stubbornness of beings to accept change. I admit that I thought it was not possible to get accustom to the keyboard because of the physical limitations, but as it turns out, the limitations are purely mental. It’s more about breaking habits, much like the habits we had to break when we went from typewriters to keyboards, for those of you who actually are old enough to have used a typewriter that is.
I’ve also noticed something quite amazing about the younger generation of kids using tablets and smartphones. They don’t feel the need for an external keyboard. The main demographics for external keyboard purchases for iPad are middle to later age men who have used a computer for many years. Middle-aged women are also more adaptive to the virtual keyboards and don’t feel the necessity to have an external one as much as men do.
An external keyboard also defeats the purpose of the tablet as well. Tablets were meant to be a tween device that bridges smartphones to computers, but as it turns out, tablets are just replacing both in many cases. Adding a external keyboard to a tablet makes it more like a laptop, which makes the perception and usage of a tablet klunky because the tendency of users is to try to mimic habits they have from the computer, leading to a poor tablet experience.
I see that external keyboards are here to stay, at least until a younger generation comes up through the ranks and more traditional PC users retire or adapt and while companies are making a nice profit by selling them, they will always be out there.
My suggestion is to give the virtual keyboard one week. Just try to go tabula rasa and see how well you do. Remember that you have been using a keyboard for 10-20 years in some cases and you didn’t learn to use it overnight.