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Old Apr 30, 2012, 12:33 PM   #1
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Apple "Discussed" Putting a Hardware Keyboard on the iPhone




According to former Apple executive Tony Fadell -- these days remaking the thermostat -- Apple's designers had extensive discussions about including a hardware keyboard on the iPhone, but ultimately decided against it. Fadell discussed the iPhone design process in a sit-down interview on Josh Topolsky's On The Verge show.
Quote:
I wanted to try [a touchscreen keyboard]... I wanted it to work. It made sense that you wanted a full screen, you didn't want a keyboard.
Fadell also mentions the other designs for the iPhone, including the iPod + Phone concept using the iPod click wheel as a controller, but noted that the team ultimately discarded that concept because the control scheme was too restricting.




Apple's designers make many prototypes that never hit the light of day. We didn't know it at the time, but the iPod with click-wheel dial that Steve Jobs jokingly showed at the original iPhone announcement wasn't too far off from something Apple had actually created.

In his biography, we learned that Jobs had set up two competing teams to find the best iPhone design. One based its designs off the existing iPod, while the other designed a brand new touchscreen system that ultimately became the iPhone.

Article Link: Apple "Discussed" Putting a Hardware Keyboard on the iPhone
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 12:40 PM   #2
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Apple like any other company discuss a lot of bad ideas. The difference between Apple and the rest though is Apple don't let the bad ideas (mostly) become part of the final product.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 12:43 PM   #3
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I wanted to try [a touchscreen keyboard]... I wanted it to work. It made sense that you wanted a full screen, you didn't want a keyboard.
And sometimes I wish I had full screen without the keyboard taking up half of it. It's the biggest draw back that on such a small screen so much is taken up by a keyboard.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 12:44 PM   #4
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I know there are still a lot of people who hate the iPhone's current keyboard, but I love it. It could have been a mess, but the size is just right. It's really the software that makes it useable, though. I'm amazed at how fast I can type with it, and I usually never have to worry about making mistakes; the software accurately corrects it for me.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 12:48 PM   #5
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A hardware keyboard is obviously better. It doesn’t reduce the visible screen, and has a pleasant familiarity if you’re used to tiny physical keyboards. (Personally I wasn’t—I was used to BIG keyboards—so I didn’t care. No tiny keyboard, physical or not, was going to fit my habits.)

It’s also worse—it can’t adapt to the context (different languages, entering an email address, big numpad for numbers, Emoji, etc.). It can’t be used in both portrait and landscape. It can’t be upgraded. You can’t swipe your finger smoothly across it (a great solution for accents and special characters, for instance). It needs more force to type. Buttons can jam up, wear out, and get crud in the cracks. It has mechanical complexity (hinges, sliders) to break, and it’s less drop-proof. And it makes your phone bigger and heavier.

Luckily there ARE options for hardware keyboards on iPhone—but not as many as I’d have expected. I kind of like the non-attached ones: you can easily leave them at home, and they don’t force you to use a certain case just to attach the keyboard.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 12:50 PM   #6
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I love how this has become such a huge news story around the web, especially since it has been years since the first iPhone.

Considering the time period when the first iPhone is released, Apple would have been crazy not to consider hardware keyboards considering RIM's dominant position at the time, which was pretty much built on their keyboard.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 12:54 PM   #7
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I bet Apple "Discussed" producing a phone before the keyboard thing.
When you make this a news remember to cite me as the source.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 12:57 PM   #8
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Ok. So what. You can "discuss" anything.

A lot of lousy ideas don't make it into the final product.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 01:04 PM   #9
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This just in, Apple actively "Discussed" building a theme park, filming an action movie, and buying out McDonalds.

They also "discussed" running for president and relocating to low-Earth orbit.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 01:05 PM   #10
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Apple also discussed needing to use a cord and wall jack with the iPhone.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 01:08 PM   #11
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Well of course they 'discussed' it … I'm sure they also 'discussed' the possibility of a sentient iPhone, or a phone that can make coffee, or grow legs, or massage your feet (seriously, I pity the phone who has to massage mine).

With the greatest of respect, this doesn't quite seem like breaking news to me. It's inevitable that in a time where almost all phones had physical keyboards, they would have discussed using a physical keyboard in their phone.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 01:11 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by nagromme View Post
A hardware keyboard is obviously better. It doesn’t reduce the visible screen,...
It's only "obviously better" to you.

And physical keyboards don't reduce the visible screen because the screen is made tiny to MAKE ROOM for the keyboard! Or, in the case of slider keyboards, the phone is compromised by the additional thickness, added weight, and less room for other features (e.g. a decent battery).

Only in bizarro world is a physical keyboard "obviously better"
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 01:11 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by MacRumors View Post
Image


According to former Apple executive Tony Fadell -- these days remaking the thermostat -- Apple's designers had extensive discussions about including a hardware keyboard on the iPhone, but ultimately decided against it. Fadell discussed the iPhone design process in a sit-down interview on Josh Topolsky's On The Verge show.
YouTube: video
Fadell also mentions the other designs for the iPhone, including the iPod + Phone concept using the iPod click wheel as a controller, but noted that the team ultimately discarded that concept because the control scheme was too restricting.

Image


Apple's designers make many prototypes that never hit the light of day. We didn't know it at the time, but the iPod with click-wheel dial that Steve Jobs jokingly showed at the original iPhone announcement wasn't too far off from something Apple had actually created.

In his biography, we learned that Jobs had set up two competing teams to find the best iPhone design. One based its designs off the existing iPod, while the other designed a brand new touchscreen system that ultimately became the iPhone.

Article Link: Apple "Discussed" Putting a Hardware Keyboard on the iPhone

That is pig ugly...I'm so glad the discussion ended in common sense prevailing...Okay, the KB is a little cramped, but the magnification on each key press more than compensates for this. I have tried a lot of small devices with tiny keyboards, and they were all useless.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 01:12 PM   #14
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Im glad there is no hardware keyboard on the iPhone.. I understand that the tactile feel of an actual keyboard is much better.. But all it will do is make the devices clunkier and not as durable and solid.. Especially if its a slide out keyboard.. Or if they did something like BlackBerry Bold then there would hardly be any screen real estate.. 3.5" is the minimum I think..
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 01:16 PM   #15
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Of course they did. Why wouldn't they have?
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 01:17 PM   #16
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I just keep hoping we will one day get haptic feedback on the touch keyboard. That would make me very happy.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 01:28 PM   #17
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I would 100% expect them to have discussed it like any other design process. Are they trying to imply that all the other products are designed perfectly first time out with no discussions of the alternatives?
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 01:30 PM   #18
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I think one of the major reasons that Apple was able to get away from a physical keyboard was that smartphone penetration was so low back in 2007. The only folks that were using the tiny physical keyboards were Blackberry, Palm, and WinMo folks. Most people were still using dumbphones and using iTap or T7 or whatever to type.

This fact allowed Apple to buck the trend since most users didn't have to unlearn something. They went from a 10-digit keypad to a virtual keyboard. After a short learning curve, these users became very proficient.

Blackberry users would have had to unlearn habits (mini-qwerty and trackball) to use the virtual keyboard. Fortunately for Apple, there were many many fewer BB users than dumbphone users.

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Old Apr 30, 2012, 01:45 PM   #19
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Of course Apple fails with designs. Anyone should remember what happened to MacBook Wheel.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 01:46 PM   #20
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I like physical buttons, but having tried lots of QWERTY keyboards on phones, I feel that they're way too small to type any better than on the iPhone's virtual keyboard. Plus the virtual keyboard doesn't make the phone thicker, and doesn't take up space from the screen.

Typing on a phone has never been great, and I think the iPhone made it a little better.

The only thing I miss is keys for gaming, which I think makes a huge difference. The touchscreen is cool for some things, but for things like moving up/down/left/right, it's much better to have physical buttons. Of course, you're not going to want those buttons on your phone, but maybe a controller that can easily be attached or removed should be made by a third party (or I'm sure there are already loads out there).
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 02:35 PM   #21
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I've never had much problem with the touch screen keyboard on my iOS Devices. Certainly it does take a small learning curve to get used to it just like using a new keyboard on a computer has a bit of a learning curve.

I don't think (emphasis on think) the iPhone would have done as well and been seen as a step forward if it had a physical keyboard. It would've looked like a Trio, been bigger and had a smaller screen. So I'm glad they worked on the touch screen technology cause so far it's the best I've experienced.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 03:23 PM   #22
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charged up the 'ol flip phone the other day. after 5 mins of use my hand was hurting due to button pressing.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 03:30 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by D.T. View Post
Apple also discussed needing to use a cord and wall jack with the iPhone.
Brilliant!

They also discussed shipping with an AppleTalk connector with an extra 6' Apple white phone cord for tethering. Yoyo-design 10" extension cord sold separately.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 03:48 PM   #24
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This isn't news it's the same thing written in Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, wasn't worth discussing it we he wrote it then and isn't worth it now.
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Old Apr 30, 2012, 05:54 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scoobydoo99 View Post
It's only "obviously better" to you.

[...]

Only in bizarro world is a physical keyboard "obviously better"
I guess you missed the part where he said a physical keyboard is also worse, thereby showing that his use of "obviously better" was a literary device for comparing and contrasting, and not an actual opinion...
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