Natural Designs Software Bringing its Highly-rated iPad Keyboard PadKeys to iPhone

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For all fans of PadKeys and conventional typing without layout swapping, Natural Designs Software has announced a port of their well-regarded iPad keyboard app to the iPhone. Numbers, punctuation, and cursor keys will be available on the main screen.

Modern iPhones are much larger than the original, but keyboard designs haven't evolved. PadKeys is here to change that.

Natural Designs Software has announced a port of their full-layout iPad keyboard to the iPhone:

Smart phones are different, far larger devices than they were a decade ago, but the on-screen keyboard hasn’t adapted. To satisfy requests from users frustrated with traditional ABC-123 layout swapping breaking their flow, PadKeys will improve the iPhone typing experience in multiple ways:

  • A number row: no more need to switch screens to enter part of an address, tracking number, or other alphanumeric text.
  • Punctuation and symbols on the same screen: no more layout flipping just to type something in "quotes" or use a simple character like +, -, or *.
  • Cursor keys: Despite many creative ways to move the cursor, it's the conventional way that works best.
  • Swipe input: One of the most efficient ways to enter text on a small screen.
  • Enhanced autocorrect: As on the iPad, PadKeys iPhone will display as many suggestions as your screen has room for – no artificial limitation to three.
  • Multilingual: PadKeys iPhone will support the same dozen-plus common languages and keyboard layouts as the iPad version.

Success of the original PadKeys was driven by a simple idea. The stock iOS keyboard design was optimized for the original 3.5” iPhone and doesn’t make good use of space on larger tablet displays. PadKeys took the opposite approach, shrinking a full laptop layout to ergonomically provide numbers, punctuation, and also cursor keys on one screen in familiar places. This was well received by iPad users, making PadKeys one of the highest-rated keyboards in the App Store. However, modern iPhones are also much larger than the original that inspired the screen-switching design, and users asked for PadKeys to be brought to their phones as well.

Natural Designs responded by developing a prototype version, tailoring their full-function layout to the size and shape of the phone screen. But to fulfill their goal of delivering a truly first-rate user experience, they are asking for help from the community to take it to the next level. By launching a Kickstarter, they hope to obtain funds to develop the last 20% of the product that takes 80% of the effort and makes 100% of the difference to the final quality. But just as importantly they are looking for feedback and guidance from interested users to help hone the usability and design.

“As you can guess from the name, we initially developed PadKeys to be a kind of ‘anti-’ phone keyboard, inspired by conventional laptop/netbook layouts,” says Adrian Robert, founder and lead developer at Natural Designs, “So I was surprised when users started asking us to bring it to their phones. But actually the trend has been towards ever-bigger screens. The display size on the Plus series is over double that of the original iPhone, and the standard model isn't far behind. Yet keyboard designs haven't evolved. It's too early in the mobile revolution to freeze the blueprint of something so central, so we're on a mission with PadKeys to show there's another way.”

PadKeys Keyboard for iPad is already available in the iOS App Store for $2.99 US (or equivalent in other currencies). Review codes available upon request:

PadKeys iPhone is planned for full release autumn, 2017:

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Adrian Robert

Igor Zosimov
Natural Designs Software, Inc.
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