7 Keyboard Tips for Your Phone
From editing to dictation, you can do more with your smartphone's keyboard than you might have realized.

David Nield

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      The app that you use most on your phone has nothing to do with messages, news, social media, web browsing, or playing games: It’s the keyboard.

      There’s a lot you can do with the humble pop-up keyboard to time and trouble. These simple tricks apply to both iPhones and Android devices—give them a try and you might wonder how you ever lived without them.

      For some people, swiping to type is quicker and more efficient than tapping: You move your finger across the keyboard, pausing briefly at each character you want to register and only lifting it up when you’re done inputting a word.

      This feature should be enabled on the default keyboard for both iOS and Android. Just tap and hold on the first character in the word, then swipe to type for the rest of them. Lift up your finger to start a new word, then repeat the process.

      If you don’t have the feature, check your phone’s Settings app: General, Keyboard, and Slide to Type on iOS, and System, Languages and input, On-screen keyboard, Gboard and Glide typing on Android.

      Using a phone keyboard with one hand can be tricky, especially if you have a handset with a larger display—but there are options built into the onboard software that can make typing a little easier on your fingers and thumbs.

      If you’re using an iPhone, tap and hold on the globe icon (bottom left.) You’ll then see three icons that enable you to shift the keyboard to the left of the screen, to the right of the screen, and back to the middle.

      Over on Android, there’s something similar. Here you press and hold on the comma key (bottom left), and slide your finger over the right of the two icons that appear. You can then position the keyboard to the left or the right or put it back in the middle.

      iOS lets you put your keyboard to the left or right of the screen if needed.

      We have more emoji on our smartphones than ever before, and it can be tricky to find the exact one you want. On both iPhones and Android devices, use the search box that appears at the top of the keyboard after tapping the emoji icon to look around.

      To get to emoji variations in terms of things like skin tone and gender, press and hold on your selected emoji. A selection of alternatives will pop up, and you can pick the one you want.

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    Here’s another tip that’s just for iPhones: If you type out your message and then tap the emoji icon, you’ll see words that can be replaced with emoji start to glow orange. Tap on any glowing word to replace it with the corresponding emoji.

    Your phone’s keyboard isn’t just for typing—it can also be used to select, edit, and navigate around what you’ve already written. Depending on the size of your device’s screen, this can be tricky to do.

    A handy feature for the iPhone keyboard can help out here: Press and hold the Space key, and the keyboard will transform into a trackpad. You can drag your finger across this trackpad to move the text cursor more accurately.

    Over on Android, the equivalent feature can be found by tapping the three dots at the top of the keyboard, then choosing Text Editing. You then get keys for moving the text cursor and quick access to copy, paste, and select functions.

    Did you know you can get your phone to replace custom acronyms with longer text strings? So rather than typing out “be there soon” over and over again, you can just put “bts” and let your phone do the rest.

    If you’re using an iPhone, from Settings head to General, Keyboard, and Text Replacement. You can then use the + (plus) button to add new shortcuts. When you type these abbreviations, the replacements will appear as corrections above the keyboard.

    On Android, tap the cog icon above the keyboard and choose Dictionary and Personal dictionary. Choose your language, and on the next screen you can tap the + (plus) button to set up new shortcuts, which again appear as suggestions above the keyboard.

    Text replacement shortcuts can save you a lot of typing time.

    Another phone keyboard trick is to not use the keyboard at all, but to dictate text using your voice instead. You might find it’s a lot quicker, especially in situations where you don’t have both hands free to use on your phone.

    Activating the dictation feature couldn’t be much simpler, whether you’re using an iPhone or an Android handset. Just tap the microphone icon (below the keyboard on the right on iOS, above the keyboard on the right on Android) and start talking.

    You’ll soon get the hang of it, and you can introduce punctuation and other special characters simply by saying them. To go back to normal, tap on the keyboard icon (iOS) or tap the microphone icon again (Android).

    You’re not stuck with the software keyboard that comes preinstalled on your phone: On both iOS and Android there are several different third-party alternatives to pick from.

    SwiftKey is one of the most popular options: It’s developed by Microsoft and is available for iOS and Android for free. It aims to learn your typing style over time, making predictions and auto-corrections more and more accurate.

    If you want to try something really different, give the freemium Typewise for iOS and Android a go. It uses a unique honeycomb pattern, with lots of customization options, and it promises to boost your typing speed by up to 33 percent.

    https://www.wired.com/story/7-phone-keyboard-tips/

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