The kickstarter funded project for iKeyboard is up and running with their own website and products are shipping. After a considerable wait we finally receive our (paid for) iKeyboard. So the immortal question is, does it make iPad typing any less of a chore.
For those not familiar with kickstarter, it's a crowd sourced funding website. If you have an idea, such as Cliff Their did with the iKeyboard, it's quite possible to take an idea from inception to production with the means of people making donations via the website. Obviously going from conception to product has it's up's and downs and Cliff has been quite upfront with similar issues faced with producing a product like this using manufacturers in China but I'm glad to say, after quite a wait I now have in my hands an iKeyboard.
Ideas don't often get much simpler than this. You simply pop the iKeyboard on top of your iPad making sure to align it with the keys once the keyboard is up… And then you start typing. iKeyboard attaches with some tacky (not in a cheap sense but in a glue sense) pads that barely cling to the skin when you press on them however they do a great job of holding things in place and attracting desktop dust bunnies.
It's clearly been thought out design wise with and becomes all the more apparent when you come to remove the unit form the iPad In all of the corners there is a slight recess allowing you to pull it up with your fingernail and things don't twist or bend in an uncomfortable way when placing the iKeyboard aside.
Like many I have a screen protector and after several hours of testing pulling on and pulling off a happy to report that it's so far so good on my screen protector remains in place.
So, does it make iPad typing any easier?
The first 10 minutes of using the keyboard was an awkward experience, after all my fingers had built-up muscle memory of typing on keyboards with a different sense of tactile feedback.
10 minutes in
It felt like trying to type on the iPad whilst mashing down on the keyboard through bubble-wrap. More than a few times I ended up reverting back to the one fingered style of ham-fisted typing without the use of the ikeyboard. What's really sending my typing sideways is how far you have to push down on the keys and the plastic that covers the buttons. For most of the keys it's quite stiff and shows no sign of softening after usage but the space bar is a different story.
As the space bar is longer the plastic isn't as stiff or as high as the rest of the keys on the unit. This meant I was adding more spaces than before because the other keys can support some gentle hand weight but not the space bar.
1 hour in
I was adding more spaces I between works.. 1 hour of persistent and now frustrating usage it's still a feeling like I have to really hammer down on the keys and I'm spending more time pressing the delete keys because of missing letters.
Later on in the garden things did get a little better until the moment that I took the ikeyboard off and I realised just how much I had been struggling with the unit. My typing speed with the unit on had definitely increased with the iKeyboard in place but it was only faster when compared to being slower, it still showed no signs of the speeds advertised on the website
1 day in.
Sadly I'm not having to force myself to use this to see "if it' just me". The reason for the perseverance is because the concept is just so darn good I want to stick with it just a little bit longer.
iKeyboard Turn that frown upside down
Of course there is one intrinsic problem with any keyboards like this and that's the fact it's going to obscure any error messages or dialogues that pop up in the middle of the screen. You can rotate the iPad, press the button, and then rotate it back to its original position but that soon becomes a chore so it is best suited to use this when getting down to a heavy session of typing.
That downside can easily be turned into an upside as once the iKeyboard is in place, it means you can really focus on the task in hand and concentrate on typing.
If all of the keys had the same feel as the space bar meaning you didn't need to hammer down upon them I would of been ecstatic with this product. Of course how hard you type is subjective yet for me but I know that in the same time it took for me to do one paragraph with the iKeyboard attached, three were wrote without it attached.
The idea of the design is fantastic, the concept I couldn't fault but the execution was a let down which was annoying as I really wanted this to help with the iPads typing foibles.
iKeyboard is available from ikeyboard.com priced at $35 and they do ship to the UK
iKeyboard is no longer available