I’ve got an iPod Touch for work, since I do web design and at the time that my employer bought it, this was the easiest way for me to be able to test out how web pages display on a mobile device. For all intents and purposes, this thing is mine until I quit, but I don’t know…I never use it. I can’t really understand why anybody would, to be honest. Everything I can do on the iPod I can do on my desktop computer about a billion times easier, and I’m not one of these people who feel the need to be connected to the Internet wherever I go. All in all, I sort of find it to be more frustrating than useful.
Case in point, the keyboard, which totally eschews the inclusion of arrow keys. I understand that Steve Jobs hated these things because he thought everybody should be doing everything with the mouse. In this case, the touch screen, I suppose. The only problem being that that’s fucking retarded.
I don’t know…if you can’t understand why, then there’s no use in me trying to explain it to you. Suffice it to say that I was trying to correct a URL in Safari on my iPod just now, and for the millionth time, using that little magnifying glass was getting me pissed off, because I could have done the same thing in about half the time with an arrow key. I mean, the magnifying glass pretty much functions exactly the same was as an arrow key except that the precision is worse. And oh, yeah–I’m already using the keyboard! Why are you making me move my hand to a totally different location on the screen?
Anyway, the iPhone and iPod Touch have been around for a while, so I thought that maybe by this point, Apple would have finally come around to the idea of allowing users to swap in some sort of enhanced keyboard that has arrow keys. No dice. Apparently, there’s some sort of third-party app that you can install, but it’s not approved for use by Apple, so you have to jailbreak your goddamn device just to use it. Don’t even get me started on that.
The reason I’m bringing this up is I stumbled across this thread on the Apple discussion forum: “Arrow keys anyone???”
The original poster asks a simple question, followed by pages and pages of Apple fanboys berating him for being too much of a dinosaur to use the clearly superior touchscreen. But this post pissed me off the most:
I really don’t get why people want/need arrow keys on the iPad..
They exsist on hardware keyboards as a legacy control for the onscreen cursor on desktop computers, the arrival of the mouse started the clock on their obselesance, on a touch-capable device like the iPad there’s not even the pretense of a need for them. [emphasis mine]
Why would anyone want to keep pressing an virtual button on an onscreen keyboard when a single tap of the screen will place the cursor (insofar as it even exists on the iPad) wherever you want it?
Okay, I do a shitload of typing for work. A lot of coding. If I had to take my hands off the keyboard and reach for the mouse every single time I noticed some typo I made a few characters back, I’d be here forever. Hell, sometimes I’ll see some mistake I made at the beginning of the line, and it’s faster even to hit the Home key and use the cursor to move over a couple of characters than it would be to attempt to do that with my mouse. Or even a word or two back, it’s so much faster for me to just use Ctrl+left arrow to jump back a word at a time and then use the End key to get back to the end of the line. It is in no way better to use my mouse for these tasks. The same was true when I used to do copyediting.
On a touch device…I don’t know…maybe theoretically being able to use the touch screen is better, but when you’re attempting to correct a URL and the part you need to correct is just off screen a few characters back, that magnifying glass is a piece of shit.