Apple "Discussed" Putting a Hardware Keyboard on the iPhone

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.
    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
  2. the8thark macrumors 68040


    Apr 18, 2011
    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.
  3. TMar macrumors 68000


    Jul 20, 2008
    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.
  4. jayducharme macrumors 68040


    Jun 22, 2006
    The thick of it
    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.
  5. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    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.
  6. jclardy macrumors 68040


    Oct 6, 2008
    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.
  7. LostSoul80 macrumors 68020


    Jan 25, 2009
    I bet Apple "Discussed" producing a phone before the keyboard thing.
    When you make this a news remember to cite me as the source. :rolleyes:
  8. *LTD* macrumors G4


    Feb 5, 2009
    Ok. So what. You can "discuss" anything.

    A lot of lousy ideas don't make it into the final product.
  9. ristlin Guest

    Mar 29, 2012
    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.
  10. D.T. macrumors 604


    Sep 15, 2011
    Vilano Beach, FL
    Apple also discussed needing to use a cord and wall jack with the iPhone.
  11. keysofanxiety macrumors 604


    Nov 23, 2011
    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.
  12. scoobydoo99 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 11, 2003
    so cal
    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"
  13. Macman45 macrumors demi-god


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago

    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.
  14. Yamcha macrumors 68000

    Mar 6, 2008
    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..
  15. flash84x macrumors regular

    Aug 5, 2011
  16. Caliber26 macrumors 68000


    Sep 25, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    I just keep hoping we will one day get haptic feedback on the touch keyboard. That would make me very happy.
  17. RobQuads macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2010
    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? :rolleyes:
  18. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    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.

  19. Frozzie macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2011
    Of course Apple fails with designs. Anyone should remember what happened to MacBook Wheel. ;)
  20. baryon macrumors 68040


    Oct 3, 2009
    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).
  21. IzzyJG99 macrumors 6502

    Oct 26, 2007
    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.
  22. efktd macrumors 6502


    Sep 29, 2011
    charged up the 'ol flip phone the other day. after 5 mins of use my hand was hurting due to button pressing.
  23. TimTheEnchanter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 24, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Brilliant! :D

    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.
  24. WrQth macrumors member

    Jul 23, 2010
    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.
  25. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    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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