In spite of Steve Jobs’ loathing of slide-out keyboards for mobile devices, Apple prognosticators have long imagined the possibility for a future iPhone. Now, a new iPhone 6 concept has once again raised the question.
When the iPhone 5 News Blog first launched in the late summer of 2010, one of the first big “fights” among the readers and commenters was over “rumors” of a slide-out keyboard for the then-rumored iPhone 5. iPhone users were divided on the issue in the comments section, with about half criticizing the clumsiness of a slide-out “thumb board” and reminding those who liked the idea that Steve Jobs had derided the use of manual keyboards on mobile devices in the past.
Proponents of the slide-out keyboard, however, always had a point: on-screen touch screens are notoriously inaccurate and frustrating, and with iOS (still) offering nothing along the lines of Android’s swipe feature, the sure feeling of manual buttons while typing would be a welcome feature for some users.
Obviously, the slide-out keyboard was a no-show for both the iPhone 4S and 5. But it hasn’t stopped conceptualists from rendering an iPhone 6 with a slide-out keyboard. Could this thing ever become a reality?
The new concept photos are presented by Phones Review. The second one is the one that features the slide-out keyboard:
The iPhone 6 Pro model features a 4.55-inch Retina display with resolution of 1280 x 720 and includes a keyboard (very un-Apple like). The addition of the keyboard makes it 11m thick and 139g. The standard iPhone 6 by comparison also has a 4.55-inch Retina display with the same resolution as the Pro but the lack of a keyboard makes this one 7mm thick and 120g.
The assumption is that the “Pro” model would be a boon for business users, with the thought that they would set up their iPhone 6 like a little mini laptop and actually work on it. Truth be told, business users are still just testing the waters with using tablets for business — laptops still dominate that demographic. Smartphones are used to check e-mail and texts, and make quick comments back and forth to colleagues. In the end, however, the business user and casual user probably use their iPhone equally as far as typing is concerned, so if the appearance of this slide-out keyboard is seen as an attractants for business people, then it’s poorly realized.
It’s also doubtful that Apple would thicken the iPhone 6 with a bulky keyboard, after going to such lengths to slim down the current iPhone.
There is most certainly a trend among prognosticators to suggest that Apple will begin to offer more models and more choices with the iPhone in order to compete more broadly with Android devices, which as a whole offer a wider range of features. I think that is a wrong-headed assumption: Apple continues to dominate with its iPhones: aside from offering them in white and black, as well as different storage capacities, their current line-up seems to be working just fine. What’s more, Apple now offers three iPhone models at three different price points. Giving consumers price options would seem to be the best strategy for Apple, who has traditionally offered only premium-priced products.
Furthermore, the advent of Siri seems to have nailed the final nail in the coffin for a slide-out keyboard, as Apple apparently sees voice as the future of the user interface. It remains to be seen if it will really catch on, but for now, that seems to be their answer to Swipe and the slide-out keyboard.
What do you think of a slide-out keyboard for the iPhone 6? Do you have complaints about having to type on your current iPhone? If a slide-out keyboard isn’t the answer for improving typing on an iPhone, then what is?
By Michael Nace