On touchscreen typing and advantages of the iPad Pro

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In short, I’m getting pretty good at it.

While I’ve reviewed my fair share of iPad keyboards over the years, I have always been a big proponent of touchscreen typing. Leaving the house with nothing but a one-pound (ish), 4G-enabled tablet in a small shoulder bag feels empowering and freeing to me.

Of course, as a professional writer who can usually get in the 90-110 wpm range with a physical keyboard, it’s taken me some time to adjust to touchscreen typing. The smaller size of the 9.7-inch iPad also made things interesting, but typing on the equivalent of a full-size keyboard with this 12.9-inch Pro has been great. I’m even getting faster and more reliable in non-standard situations, like lounging and lap-typing on the sofa.

To test myself, I downloaded TapTyping – typing trainer (Free with IAP, or Paid). It has various courses for beginners to experts, but I dove straight into the typing test to see how I fared.

Across three tests I hit 84, 65, and 95 words, giving me an average for this first go-around of 80 wpm. That ain’t too bad, and I’ve been doing a lot of my writing and content work for app developers on iPad for some time now.

Between writing in Ulysses and collaborating in Quip or, if necessary, Google Drive, my needs are covered pretty well. The WordPress app is still pretty terrible, so I bounce between it and Safari for publishing my own stuff (example: I did this post in Safari since I needed a photo gallery. Even though it’s 2016, WordPress.app still can’t create galleries). My Chartier.land site is still in Squarespace but I’ll switch that to WordPress or Weebly soon, too (more on that in a later post).

Finally, many iOS writing and coding apps have mature, powerful keyboard shortcut bars that can be a nice boost for productivity. Ulysses has always had a great shortcut bar that puts most Markdown commands at your fingertips, including [img], lists, style, and linking. In fact, in the 2.5 beta I’m testing now for iPad Pro and iPhone, Ulysses now integrates it’s shortcuts into Apple’s smart bar with suggestions and pasting tools. And if you have a link in your clipboard and select some text, a simple paste command will turn it into a proper Markdown link. It’s just great.

I don’t have some ultimate insight or moral to the story here, other than “it can be done.” In fact, TapTyping has a Game-Center-powered leaderboard, and I’ve emailed its developer, Flairify, to find out whether the app only works with touchscreen typing. If it does, you can see in my final gallery photo here that some touchscreen typing experts are hitting 120-130+ wpm.

Update: Flairify got back to me. TapTyping does distinguish between touchscreen typing and hardware keyboards, and even maintains leaderboards for each. That means the board in my gallery here has 130+ wpm iPad touchscreen typists.

If you tried touchscreen typing and just didn’t get the hang of it, or if you’re simply curious, I definitely encourage you to give it a shot. Maybe give yourself some more time, or try TapTyping’s courses to train yourself in a more structured way. The mobility, weight, and freedom advantages of typing on an iPad this way have definitely been worth it for me. I’m not even considering a hardware keyboard for my iPad Pro anymore.