Why the Surface keyboard has me excited

While the liveblogging was going on for Microsoft’s Surface introduction, I was cautiously optimistic about what the devices would really accomplish. The most notable feature is, without a doubt, that keyboard cover. It’s important to people who actually touch type or to anyone who wants to type at any real speed. I keep hearing about people writing thousands of words on iOS devices and I just can’t help but think that that’s going to lead to some really bad RSI. I love Patrick Rhone’s minimalmac but he’s gonna hurt himself writing so much on his iPhone.

I hate typing on my iPad. So much. I thought I would get used to it but it’s just a fool’s errand. It’s better than it used to be but not by much. When the iPad came out, I saw a really awesome opportunity for Apple to use its advanced input error correction skills (as evidenced by their laptop trackpad superiority) coupled with a capacitive multitouch screen to enable users to rest their fingers on the screen. The UI only backed up my suspicions:

Image

See those virtual home key bumps on the F and J keys? Looks inviting and familiar to a touch typist. Here, come rest your fingers and type a spell, those deliberately placed pixels say. But, what happened the first time I tried that?

Skldjfthedfjdj.

That’s what happened. Unacceptable. I get the impression more and more that Apple is ignoring decades of usability and ergonomic research in order to bend the world to its vision of how technology should operate. I’m not the first to call for more humanist design and I won’t be the last.

If Microsoft has cracked the nut as to how to make tablet typing not suck without toting around an external keyboard, color me extremely excited. As if the minimalist Metro environment wasn’t enough of a selling point, Surface is looking to be the most interesting iPad competitor yet.

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