New iOS 11 Keyboard Tricks

iOS 11 adds new ways to interact with the on-screen virtual keyboard. On the iPhone Plus models, you can move the keyboard to the left or right side to make it easier for you to type with one hand. On the iPad, you can swipe down with your finger on keys to access other characters without needing to switch to another keyboard layout.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: New iOS 11 Keyboard Tricks.

So iOS 11 has a few new keyboard tricks you should know about. The first one I'm going to show you is on the iPhone. So here you see the standard keyboard at the bottom of the Notes app. You see the keyboard button at the bottom left. It's a globe here on this keyboard. It changes on different keyboards. If I tap it it'll switch between keyboards and then I could hit the ABC button there to switch back.

So I can go and tap and hold and I get a list of keyboards I have installed. This is nothing new. But what's new is at the bottom you see there's three representations of the keyboard. The middle one is the normal one. Then it can do the left or the right. So I can tap the right one and now you can see I get a keyboard that is compressed towards the right. This is for single hand typing. The idea is move the keyboard more to the right. This is very useful especially if you have the Plus models of the iPhone with a larger screen. Now you can use your thumb as you hold the phone and it reaches those keys. Otherwise reaching the keys all the way on the left is really difficult. Now I can use that arrow there on the left to expand back to full size. I can go again and go to the other side as well. So that's kind of a neat new trick you can do in iOS 11 on the iPhone.

Now on the iPad you've got an even better trick. Notice right here the keyboard has these little gray characters above the main ones. So, for instance, above the Q there's a 1. Above the G there's an asterisk. H and J parentheses. Things like that. Now you can type on this keyboard just as you could before. So I could just type normal. But if I were to tap a key and swipe down just slightly I get the special character. So you can see I can easily type these extra characters and even numbers with this gesture. It takes some getting used to. The first few times you do it you don't quite get the characters right. But after you get used to it you can do it pretty easily.

This works even on the alternate versions of the keyboard. In other words I hit the 123 there at the bottom left and now you can see I basically have, you know there's three keyboards. There's the letters, the ones with the numbers at the top and the main symbols, and then you can press for the special symbols as well. So you can basically access one keyboard deeper using this. So I can, you know I have the numbers here at the top, and now I can access the brackets and other things like that very easily.

There are some special keys that actually work if you swipe up as well. They are, as far as I can tell so far, the comma and the period key, see its got the exclamation point and the question mark. They're not gray but I could still do the same thing with those. However, if I go up I get alternates there.

Now there are other keys where this kind of works as well but instead of just tap and swipe up you have to tap and hold. So, for instance, if you go down to this level and you tap and hold the dollar sign, you see you get other currency symbols above it as well, which makes sense. The dash gives you other types of dashes. So there are some keys that work and some keys that don't. You kind of have to experiment. So the slash gives you backslash. You also get a backslash if you swipe down. Sometimes it doesn't quite make sense as to what keys give alternates going up as well as alternates when you swipe down.

You have to play around and get used to these extra functions.

Comments: 16 Responses to “New iOS 11 Keyboard Tricks”

    Arnie Keller
    2 years ago

    Don’t all these non obvious gestures violate Apple’s own interface guidelines?

    2 years ago

    Arnie: Not aware of any specific guideline that these violate. Certainly there are already third-party keyboards that have even more non-obvious gestures.

    2 years ago

    I noticed on the iPad keyboard you can no longer hold the ? Or ! down and get an upside down Spanish version. Has anyone figured out how to do this on the iPad? It still works on the iPhone.

    2 years ago

    Deanna: The way to get the ¿ is to add Spanish as another keyboard in Settings. Then switch to the Spanish keyboard when you want to type the ¿. In fact, you can simple switch to that keyboard while you are typing in Spanish, as other things about that keyboard may be help too. Then switch back to English when typing in English.

    2 years ago

    Ah just found out what they are for,watched your great video should have done that first! Anyway still want to switch them off.

    2 years ago

    Michael: Settings, General, Keyboard, turn off Enable Key Flicks.

    2 years ago

    Really useful information about a really useful new feature that should make typing on the virtual keyboard much easier. Thanks for the time and work you put into these videos!

    2 years ago

    I have an Ipad Pro, and the keyboard hasn’t changed with the new iOS 11… do I need to do something special so the characters appear above the letters?

    2 years ago

    Silvia: First, check to see if you are using a third-party keyboard. Perhaps you switched to one at some point. Then look for that setting that I mention above to Deanna. That’s all I can think of that could be the issue.

    Craig Knudsen
    2 years ago

    Same as Silvia. I have the same keyboard on my iPad Pro in 11 as I did in 10. Wonder how to turn it on?

    2 years ago

    Craig: Did you check in Settings?

    2 years ago

    Why, WHY, is the shortcuts on the iPhone keyboard removed? What a dissapointment!

    2 years ago

    Victoria: Can you be more specific? What “shortcuts” feature do you mean?

    2 years ago

    In IOS 11 for iPhone, they removed the extra punctuation characters (period, comma, etc) from the initial keyboard. You now have to hit the 123 keyboard to access them. I’ve confirmed this feature has been removed. Do you know of any 3rd party keyboards that have this feature?

    2 years ago

    Steve: I’m sure many do. Gboard has a period. I would just look through the app store and most have screens showing their layout so it should be easy. Not, though, that typing a period is easy (two spaces). You can also tap and hold the 123 key, slide to the key you want, and release. So you can do a comma or anything there with one press-slide-release action.

    2 years ago

    Yes I am also disappointed that this feature is gone as I am coming from android and missing that greatly.. it’s annoying to have to hit 123 just to put a comma.

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