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79,693 News Articles

The ultimate Apple iPhone user guide

everything you need to know to use an iPhone.

Here's everything you need to know to get started with a new iPhone.

Making the keyboard work

Some people have no problem tapping those tiny virtual keys; others struggle for days. Either way, here are some tips:

  • Don't be freaked out by the tiny narrow keys. Apple knows that your fingertip is fatter than that. So as you type, use the whole pad of your finger or thumb. Go ahead—tap as though you're trying to make a fingerprint. Don't try to tap with only a skinny part of your finger to match the skinny keys. You'll be surprised at how fast and accurate this method is. (Tap, don't press.)
  • This may sound like new-age bunkum, but trust the keyboard. Don't get hung up on individual letters, pausing to check the result, and so on. Just plough on.
  • Start out with one-finger typing. Two-thumb, BlackBerry-style typing usually comes much later. You'll drive yourself crazy if you start out that way.
  • If you make a mistake, don't reflexively go for the Backspace key (V). Instead, just beneath the word you typed, you'll find the iPhone's proposed replacement. The software analyses the letters around the one you typed and, more often than not, figures out what you really meant. For example, if you accidentally type imsame, the iPhone realises that you meant insane, and suggests that word.
  • The suggestion feature also kicks in when the iPhone thinks it knows how you intend to complete a correctly spelled word. For example, if you type fathe, the suggestion says father. This trick usually saves you only a letter or two, but that's better than nothing.
  • Without cursor keys, how are you supposed to correct an error that you made a few sentences ago? Easy — use the Loupe.
  • Hold your fingertip down anywhere in the text until you see the magnified circle appear. Without lifting your finger, drag anywhere in the text; you'll see that the insertion point moves along with it. Release when the blinking line is where you want to delete or add text, just as though you'd clicked there with a mouse.
  • Don't bother using the Shift key to capitalise a new sentence. The iPhone does that capitalising automatically. (To turn this feature on or off, tap Home; Settings; General; Keyboard; Auto-Capitalisation.)

How to type punctuation with one touch

On the iPhone, the punctuation keys and alphabet keys appear on two different keyboard layouts. That's a serious hassle, because each time you want a full stop or a comma, it's an awkward, three-step dance: (1) Tap the „ key to get the punctuation layout. (2) Tap the full stop. (3) Tap the ABC key, or just press the Space bar, to return to the alphabet layout.

Imagine how excruciating it is to type, for example, "a P.O. Box in the U.S.A."! That's 34 finger taps and 10 mode changes!

Fortunately, there's a secret way to get a full stop, comma, or another punctuation mark with only a single finger gesture.

The iPhone doesn't register most key presses until you lift your finger. But the Shift and Punctuation keys register their taps on the press down instead.

So here's what you can do, all in one motion:

  • Touch the „ key, but don't lift your finger. The punctuation layout appears.
  • Slide your finger onto the full stop or comma key, and release. The ABC layout returns automatically. You've typed a full stop or a comma with one finger touch instead of three.

In fact, you can type any of the punctuation symbols the same way. This technique makes a huge difference in the usability of the keyboard.

Apple iPhone

This article is extracted from David Pogue's 'iPhone UK The Missing Manual' (OReilly 2007).

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