As I noted this past Friday, there is a part of the Brian Williams interview of Apple CEO Tim Cook that was not included in the 20 minute segment that ran on TV, a part in which Tim Cook explains that he does 80% of his work on an iPad. I was surprised at how high that percentage is. I love my iPad, but I can't imagine doing 80% of my work on it, and I don't run the largest company on the planet. Watching that clip again, I also find it interesting that Tim Cook apparently likes to use the iPad's on-screen keyboard. Here is the full question and answer:
Q: How adapt are you at the virtual keyboard [of the iPad] which confounds a lot of us?
A: Pretty good. I think if you stick with it a little while, you get quite good at it. And the auto-correction is quite good. And so I ditched physical keyboards. 80% of my time is spent on iPad in terms of authoring emails and working on things. And I still spend time on the Mac, and of course I have this [holding his iPhone] with me all the time.
So not only is Tim Cook using an iPad a lot more than a computer, he is doing his typing on the iPad's virtual keyboard.
I was thinking about that over the weekend when I saw an interesting article by Jason Snell, the Editorial Director of Macworld, PC World and TechHive, called Why I'm Writing on the iPad. He says that he is writing most of his articles on the iPad using the virtual keyboard. He admits that he is faster with the physical keyboard on his computer, but explains that when uses the iPad's virtual keyboard and has to type slower, his brain spends more time choosing his words and the end result is better. He compares it to writing with a pen and paper, in which the process of getting words written is so much slower that your brain is forced to spend more time thinking about what you are writing.
I don't type on the iPad's virtual keyboard very often. Just about any time that I am going to sit down at a table and type something with the iPad, I use the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. I am a fast typist on a physical keyboard, and my writing style is to quickly get the words on the page, and then once that is done, I go back and edit to improve the sentences, move things around, etc.
Those times that I don't use the physical keyboard with my iPad, I tend to use a stylus and take handwritten notes in GoodNotes.
I'm not saying that I never use the iPad's virtual keyboard — I use it with emails all the time — but unlike Tim Cook and Jason Snell, I never really consider using it for serious writing. But Snell's article has me thinking, and maybe I'll try writing with the virtual keyboard just to see how it changes both the way that I think and the final work product itself.
Note that when I say "iPad" above, I'm just talking about the full-size iPad. The virtual keyboard on the iPad mini is so much smaller that I don't see how anyone could touch type very quickly on it. Indeed, with the iPad mini, I find it faster to turn the device to portrait orientation and then use my thumbs to type on the keyboard, which is similar to typing on an iPhone's virtual keyboard with your thumbs except that you have to stretch your thumbs a little bit more on the iPad mini.
If anyone else out there had found it to be advantageous to type text of any real length on the iPad's virtual keyboard, I'd love to hear from you. Cook and Snell are both pretty smart guys, so you are in good company.