Help me improve my iPhone typing speed!
January 14, 2011 4:11 AM   Subscribe

I'm a 100+wpm typist on a regular keyboard... and now trying to adapt to typing things in on my iPhone, which is frustrating and slow. What resources out there are good for learning how to type quickly in both portrait and landscape?

I'm not averse to paying for a sort of Mavis Beacon kind of app if there's one out there that's really worth it, but I'm also concerned about things like how exactly I should be holding the thing and hitting the letters. I prefer not to use autocorrect if at all possible.
posted by gracedissolved to Technology (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure there is any sort of market for that kind of app. It's quite an esoteric request. I think the best advice I can give is to type slowly and constantly keep an eye on the autocorrect feature until the iPhone adapts to your vocabulary. Takes a bit of time, but it will improve your speeds.
posted by dougrayrankin at 5:01 AM on January 14, 2011

The key to success for typing on mobile phones is autocorrect. If you won't use autocorrect, you will never achieve any decent typing rate.
posted by jrockway at 5:05 AM on January 14, 2011

There are certain jailbroken apps which alter your keyboard to embiggen more commonly used letters that ostensibly help with typing speed. I couldn't get autocorrect to work with them, so I ditched it. Jrockway's right; autocorrect is your friend and I think it ends up requiring a certain amount of trust in your phone. Plus practice.

I wrote this answer with my iPhone and was autocorrected about 15 times.
posted by mckenney at 5:16 AM on January 14, 2011

I can get about 40 or 50 or words a minute. Just trust autocorrect.
posted by empath at 5:23 AM on January 14, 2011

Trust autocorrect, but look over everything before you hit "send." Autocorrect isn't perfect.

Also, are you typing with your pointer finger, or with two thumbs? I find I type faster with thumbs than with a pointer.
posted by litnerd at 5:28 AM on January 14, 2011

Not to repeat what everyone is saying, but you need to trust autocorrect and not edit your work midsentence unless it is clear that the iPhone goofed.

ALSO, if you have some words you are always typing, such as hell which always autocorrects to he'll, make a new contact who's name is "Hell Shit" or something like that so that it won't try to autocorrect those words. Contact's names override the autocorrect.
posted by darkgroove at 5:43 AM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I realize other people use and like autocorrect, but I did specify not that for a reason. If you can't give me anything more than 'use autocorrect' then you're not answering my question. I'm looking for help hitting keys more quickly and accurately. Actually typing, not entering words more quickly.

I have tried the thumb thing but it seems like I end up bumping the wrong keys a lot more often when I use thumbs? But I'm not sure if I'm holding it right.
posted by gracedissolved at 5:47 AM on January 14, 2011

The iphone keyboard was designed with autocorrect in mind. If you're not using it, you aren't going to get the fastest possible typing speed.

I use two thumbs, and eventually you just get muscle memory of where the letters are on the screen.

You can also look up speed typing videos on youtube.
posted by empath at 5:54 AM on January 14, 2011

It just takes time, just like learning how to type on a full keyboard

I struggled with it when I first got it but now I'm fairly happy with my typing speed. You'll never get to 100 wpm as you do on a full keyboard with ten fingers.

I can't think of any typing apps, but one break through for me in typing faster was to do a writing assignment on my phone using the Notes app. It was about 300 words.
posted by p1nkdaisy at 6:01 AM on January 14, 2011

I hold the phone between my palms and type with my thumbs. I keep my eyes on the field where I'm typing, and I don't look at the keyboard. It took me maybe a couple of months until I gave this a try, and it just worked. You know the layout of the keyboard, now you just need to practice hitting those keys with your thumbs.

Keep your eyes off the keyboard. Don't hunt and peck. Use both thumbs.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:19 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I crook my index fingers inward to 90 degree angles to form a bridge. When holding the phone, the bridge is just past halfway down the phone. Middle fingers crossed over each other as well for extra support. I use the edges of my palms to hold the phone steady. I type with thumbs.

Hope this paints an okay picture for you. I tried searching for a picture/diagram but could only find jokes about how to hold an iPhone.
posted by litnerd at 6:29 AM on January 14, 2011

I'm watching this thread. Autocorrect is not useful when you're typing in a foreign language as I do.
posted by Dragonness at 7:24 AM on January 14, 2011

You cant think of the iPhone as a keyboard in the traditional sense. Think of it as an application designed to help you enter the text you need into the phone in the most efficient way possible. It's not meant to type novels on, or even long documents, and allowing the user to do that isn't it's focus. If your goal is simply to maximize the number of actual typed characters per second, I have to ask why? Not only are you going to hit up the any software limitations (try typing fast on an old 3G for example.... you can be a line ahead before the display catches up!) but it's definitely not the most effective way to accomplish the task. On the other hand, this 'app' has a very good autocorrect feature that learns as you type; it learns your nuances, you're most commonly used words, and your typical typos. Because typing on the iPhone without typos 100% of the time just isn't going to happen, due to the lack of any sort of tactile feedback. You have to adapt to the tool, not force the tool to adapt to you, to use it effectively. You're still smarter than it is :)
posted by cgg at 7:27 AM on January 14, 2011

Dragonness - you should be able to switch the language / keyboard layout for a different language in Settings -> General -> International. You can add multiple languages and iOS will put a globe icon on the keyboard that allows you to cycle between your enabled languages quickly.
posted by swhitt at 7:30 AM on January 14, 2011

I was a staunch anti-autocorrect person on every other phone I've had. However, those phones had actual button keys and the iPhone does not. Honestly, I don't know of a single iPhone user who doesn't utilize autocorrect, because it's extremely inefficient not to do so if you're an English-speaker.
To answer the parts of your question that don't meet your somewhat impractical parameters, hold it in your palms, type with both thumbs. Most people find typing in portrait faster than landscape because the letters are closer together (this may seem counterintuitive; it did to me at first).
posted by elpea at 7:31 AM on January 14, 2011

Also, you can search the App Store for "typing tutor" or "typing class," but none of the apps I found in such a search had very good reviews.
posted by elpea at 7:33 AM on January 14, 2011

Also, I find it useful to watch the keyboard as you type. iOS doesn't register a keypress until you remove your finger from the screen. You can hold your fingers down and move them until the right key is selected (using the nifty popup letter as your guide), then let go. I find this makes it a lot easier for people newer to typing on the iPhone / iPod touch.
posted by swhitt at 7:33 AM on January 14, 2011

I am jealous of your typing fu, as I can only do 98 wpm.

I hate autocorrect as much as you do. Hate hate hate. I especially hate it for typing in weird foreign languages that the iPhone doesn't have dictionaries for. And ones it does. And in English. A plague on autocorrect.

The only tip that Apple offers is to use your two thumbs. I do this, and I accept that typing into the iPhone is always going to be painfully slow. Sorry, but I think there may not be a good solution to this one.
posted by tel3path at 7:37 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Two thumbs, and definitely as you're training yourself watch the popup letters as you type rather than the screen. There are various tricks to know about as well, most of which seem to be covered here. One I don't see on there is that you can double tap the shift key to get caps lock.

I hate to join the chorus discussing autocorrect, but here is one tip on the off chance you decide to give it a chance: in the more recent versions of iOS, it is relatively easy to revert back to your original typing when the phone has mistakenly autocorrected it. Double tap to highlight the word; select 'replace' from the menu that pops up; the list that pops up should include whatever you originally typed. (This has done wonders to assuage my frustration when it autocorrects things that I actually meant to type.)
posted by yarrow at 8:52 AM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Practice. Practice practice practice. I spent a month on the road using only my iPhone, and got a lot faster with it. Certainly nothing like using a proper keyboard, but still. A lot faster.

Landscape thumb-typing is a lot faster than portrait typing. I try to avoid portrait typing now.

If you really need to type fast on your iPhone, there are a number of foldable Bluetooth keyboards out there.

I wanted to hate autocorrect but I got over it. You can too.
posted by adamrice at 8:58 AM on January 14, 2011

Two thumbs, and definitely as you're training yourself watch the popup letters as you type rather than the screen.

I look at the letters, but I don't wait for them to pop up. You can actually type faster than the screen updates.
posted by empath at 9:08 AM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have the same problem as you, with Android. I find it so uncomfortable to e-mail people because my fingers and brain want to work faster than the touch-screen will allow. Autocorrect (I take it this means 'predictive text') isn't always great because I'm English and the spellings default to the AmEng spellings - if you're using non-dictionary words the same problem pops up.
posted by mippy at 9:51 AM on January 14, 2011

Practice. Type with 2 thumbs holding the phone in landscape position. If you are really tha tinto speeding upi your typing you can grow out your thumb nails a bit and file them to a slight point on the inside edge of the nail to act as more precice stylus type tools compared to your whole thumb pad.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:26 PM on January 14, 2011

Response by poster: After some digging over the last couple days, I found an app called TapTyping. $4 but it seems to have been totally worth it. Combining that with tips from here, I'm up to about 30wpm just in the past 24 hours or so, so I'm feeling pretty good overall.

I actually already have some fingernail, so after a little testing, I've determined that nails do not seem to actually make the iPhone respond. But I'm getting better at having a light enough touch for it to register properly, and the tips on holding it went a long way.

Thanks to everybody!
posted by gracedissolved at 8:18 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

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