Typing on the iPad

First things first with this new iPad adventure: typing. I consider myself a good typist on a regular keyboard, hitting somewhere around 70wpm on a regular basis. But typing on the iPad intimidated me, a lot. And, if it intimidated me, I can only imagine that it intimidates a number of others as well.

If I’m going to take my use of the iPad to the next level, I have to be confident of my typing on it. It’s the main way I communicate at work and with many friends. Before I started this adventure, I clocked in at roughly 20wpm in my iPad (-50wpm from my normal typing ability). Not good enough at all, and totally preventative of using my iPad to the fullest extent possible.

There are three options, as I see it. First, I could get a Zagg Portfolio, and basically make my iPad into a laptop. When at work, I could use my external Bluetooth keyboard on my iPad. Or, finally, I could learn to rock the touch screen typing.

If you had asked me three weeks ago, I would have promoted Zagg. Or the external keyboard. But then I read a series of tweets, which reported on how teenagers are clocking in at 80-100 wpm on their iPad. What?! I know there are plenty of typists who type that fast on a normal keyboard. But on an iPad? I honestly didn’t even consider that this was possible.

More than anything else, this made me actually stop and say, wait, maybe touch screen typing quickly and efficiently is possible. With this possibility in mind, I went back to basics: I downloaded a phenomenal app that teaches touch screen typing, TapTyping. It reminds me of Mavis Beacon…. But for the iPad. And it works. Again, I started out clocking in around 20wpm. Again, this is ridiculously slower than I’m used to typing. But I did the ff jj dd kk fj dk lessons. And my muscles started to flex their memory.

I practiced. And practiced. And practiced. I took practice beyond the TapTyping app. I downloaded an instant messaging app (IM+) and started conversing on gchat. Let’s be honest, wanting to quickly reply to friends who are chatting with you is one of the best motivators to efficiently type.

Armed with the TapTyping lessons, I am now twice as fast – hitting around 40 wpm. Just the other day, I peaked at 62 wpm. More than anything it’s learning to trust my fingers to hit the right part of the screen/keyboard. There are also some cool “secrets” that are helpful to type even faster.

Note that this part of my experiment has occurred over the past few weeks, so these posts aren’t not in sync with life. In other words, it didn’t take two days; it takes practice. But it’s totally doable. With every accomplishment in typing on my iPad, I feel a bit more confident about typing on my iPad, and a bit less intimidated.

Let’s be honest — touch screens are likely here to stay. And the next generation will be (is already?) totally adept at using touch screens to type. No reason to fall behind the future today!

[This post typed entirely on my iPad.]

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