Why no cursor keys

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Fjacks, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. Fjacks macrumors newbie

    Nov 25, 2010
    Can anyone tell me why iPad keyboard has no cursor movement keys?
  2. Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Shropshire, UK
    The only reason is Apple chose not to put them on there! It is pretty annoying not having cursor keys because the touch screen way of moving the cursor around can be quite annoying at times.
    It's one of the few areas that the on-screen keyboard is not as good as an external one: I find I can type really quickly with the on-screen keyboard (particularly in landscape mode), but you get slowed down by the lack of cursor keys
  3. George Knighton macrumors 65816

    George Knighton

    Oct 13, 2010
    It's probably just a matter of the space available, and a perception that there wouldn't be any advantage to the functionality since it's a touch screen and you can do the same thing you'd do with cursor keys just by moving the image around.

    The ASCII codes are in there, though, and it would be easy to implement in any application that you are using (if the programmer put it in there), or in a future version of the firmware. When I am using my iPad to access a remote virtual machine, the keyboard that I see has access to everything that you would have on a full size keyboard, but you have to use a right arrow or left arrow to get to the extra keys.

    The only reason I would have to use a cursor key is because the remote virtual machine is using an operating system without hands-on-screen scrolling, like the limited functionality provided by Windows and Linux. And we're usually only going to be doing this in situations that are absolutely essential because the iPad's 1024x768 resolution doesn't leave a lot of room to see what you are doing when the keyboard pops up and takes up most of the screen.

    I do it all the time, but it's not exactly fun and I can't imagine the typical user of an iPad wanting to do this.

    What exactly are you doing that you want the on screen keyboard to have cursors? Even with very big emails, I quickly got used to just touching the screen to do what I want.

    Are you relatively new to the iPad, and coming to it from decades of Windows use, like me?
  4. EssentialParado macrumors 65816

    Feb 17, 2005
    I agree with the last poster, after a while you do get used to using the touchscreen instead of the habit of using PC keyboard cursor keys.

    Though, even though text navigation on an iPad is pretty good, I do wish it was improved somewhat. I'm sure there are things Apple can come up with. One thing, for sure i'd love to see, would be the autocorrect prompts to appear down above the keyboard where my fingers already are, rather than needing to move my hand to tap up where the word is and back down again. That gets a bit tedious. But the platform is still quite new and always evolving. I cant even imagine the iOS 1.0 anymore, without even copy and paste!
  5. colmaclean macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2004
    There's all that space adjacent to the Previous and Next buttons to put something like cursor keys.

    Get it done, Mr Apple!
  6. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    Apple just doesn't like cursor keys. I believe the original Macintpsh keyboards had no cursor keys because you were supposed to use the mouse to position the cursor. It took Apple forever to give in and add cursor keys to their keyboards.
  7. Don Kosak macrumors 6502a

    Don Kosak

    Mar 12, 2010
    Hilo, Hawaii
    Some Apps that need cursor keys add them to the accessory strip that runs along the top of the keyboard. Most of the SSH and VNC remote screen sharing type Apps I've used on the iPad have rich keyboards with such legacy keys as "Esc", "Tab", arrows, etc.

    If you use an external keyboard, most Apps will support basic arrow keys in text fields. Some will support more legacy key functions.

    Honestly, on the glass keyboard, I'd rather have an apostrophe key than an arrow key. Having to press and hold the comma key gets old fast.
  8. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    Have either of you ever tried to edit documentation longer than a tweet or a one line email?

    There is a significant limitation of iOS text editing. No matter how precisely you attempt to use the touchscreen, iOS will NOT allow you to place the cursor in the middle of a word. It always places it at the nearest whitespace to where you touched.

    That means you have to touch the screen again to place it at the end of the word to be edited and backspace to correct a typo (if the nearest whitespace was preceding the word to be corrected) or repeated use of the backspace to delete the trailing letters of a word and correct it (if the nearest whitespace was trailing the word).

    If you happen to be editing a document or email with many punctuation symbols and no whitespace the issue is aggravated.

    The only people who have no problem with the lack of cursor keys appear to be those who don't use the iPad for document/email editing.
  9. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    I don't have this problem. Just touch and hold until the magnification cursor pops up, and it'll let you drop the cursor anywhere you want.

    I do think that arrow keys and pgup pgdn keys would be more convenient sometimes, but IMO editing on the iPad is doable, albeit a bit tedious.
  10. anjinha macrumors 604


    Oct 21, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    You're supposed to touch and hold to put the cursor where you want, not just touch the screen.
  11. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Some writing apps have arrow keys that move your cursor around.
  12. Ciclismo macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2010
    If you touch and hold on the screen then the little magnifying glass pops up and lets you move the cursor to wherever you want. Admittedly this doesn't work on all occaisons, as someone has already mentioned, as some things are ot touch friendly (yet). but for text editing it works fine (I have written several longer essays and reports on my iPad with no issues).
  13. Diane B macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2010
    Western NC foothills
    i don't have any problem putting the cursor anywhere I want, midword or not. Simply by holding for the magnification (in fact I did it right there-mistyped prior word and corrected the first a) You can move it wherever you wish on the screen. For very long periods of typing I use my small BT keyboard but that's very seldom as I've gotten better and better at typing on the screen. I'm not sure I'd use the cursor keys. Even now I find myself attempting to touch my big monitor when I have to use my desktop LOL
  14. George Knighton macrumors 65816

    George Knighton

    Oct 13, 2010
    I understand your point.

    The answer is, yes, I have had to edit a few thousand words before.

    I understand your point, but I think it's probably more a matter of getting used to the Apple iOS method of holding your finger down until the bubble shows up, at which point manoeuvring the cursor becomes much easier.

    But your point is well taken. It is easier on the MacBook and the iMac, and it's up to you to decide whether or not it's easy enough on the iPad that you don't want to lobby for arrow keys or something.
  15. Magnificenthack macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2010
    California USA
  16. Kobra macrumors regular


    Jun 17, 2009
    I don't miss the cursor keys, but I do miss the tab key! :cool:
  17. JulianL macrumors 65816

    Feb 2, 2010
    London, UK
    I find one big usability issue (bug?) with Apple's bubble editing. If I type something like "tupid me typed this sentence wrong." then to correct it (insert the missing "S" at the beginning) I need to get the cursor at the start of the sentence. I can pretty much never manage to do this and nearly always end up having to put the cursor after the "t" and then do one backspace to delete the "t" so that I can then type "St" to correct it. I also sometimes find it very difficult to work on a line right at the top of the screen because my finger mostly obscures the contents of the bubble.

    I wish there were cursor keys too, but it seems pretty clear to me that it was a matter of space and tough choices. I suspect that I'd miss whatever Apple evicted from the main keyboard page to make space, and I'd probably miss whatever it was more than I miss cursor keys.

    EssentialParado - I really like your idea of putting the place to reject autocorrect prompts near the keyboard. That would be a huge usability improvement.

    - Julian
  18. wyneken macrumors regular

    Feb 26, 2010
    The great State of Maine
    I'm glad somebody mentioned this app — it's definitely worth checking out. In addition to cursor/arrow keys it's got a whole row of useful things like an apostrophe, colon, semicolon, "smart" parenthesis, and keys to jump to the beginning or end of a word. All this comes at a cost in screen space, of course.
  19. jrichman63 macrumors regular

    Sep 4, 2006
    Pacifica, CA
    Yeah this problem. We need arrow keys.

    You can't scroll down when typing text like in this blog.

    Try typing more that the blog input window here allows for. You'll seen you can scroll through your text to access it or change it.

    Such a basic function missing is a pain.
  20. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    I completely understand not having them on the iPhone and iPod touch. When you're thumb typing, it's easy to just move your thumb up and use that to position the cursor, it's such a small screen that it works fairly well.

    On the iPad however once you get into a typing position, constantly moving all the way up the screen to make a simple edit can be a big pain. It'd be nice to be able to keep your hands near the keyboard for something like this. At least you should be able to do the quick-tap-to-move-cursor that you can do now and then fine tune it with cursor keys.
  21. master-ceo macrumors 65816


    Sep 7, 2007
    The SUN
    I am a iPad launch day user 1st gen and 2nd gen. I never got used to not having cursor keys. It's annoying BECAUSE YOUR FINGER BLOCKS YOUR VIEW! It has room on the top of the keyboard for them. NO EXCUSES. :apple:
  22. marvingaye macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2006
    You can actually just swipe up from the comma key to get the apostrophe. You don't have to hold it down.
  23. dmaul1114 macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2011
    Definitely something they need to add.

    It's frustrating when you make a typo and don't notice right away and then have to delete several letters to get to the mistake as a lot of times you can't touch and get the cursor in the middle of a word etc.
  24. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    Try using two-fingers to scroll. No, it's not intuitive, but it's designed that way.

    Covering your view is a problem with all touch devices.

    Although it seems uncool to the fanboys, I sometimes miss having my old physical D-pad, which allowed me to scroll quickly through long pages with one hand (without covering the screen), and to quickly move cursors around.

    A single type of input is never optimized for all situations. That's why we have developed touch, speech, buttons, even air gestures.
  25. h00ligan macrumors 68030

    Apr 10, 2003
    A hot desert
    I agree...trying to tap select, particularly in text entry boxes is a pain due to this.

    I'd be on board for arrows.

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