Should You Buy a Keyboard For Your iPad?

3 advantages a physical keyboard has over a virtual one

Physical keyboards have their advantages, but do you need one for your iPad? This guide will help you determine if you need an external keyboard for your iOS device.

What Is an iPad Keyboard?

You can either use a Bluetooth-connected keyboard or connect a wired keyboard to your iPad. That means you can use your desktop PC's keyboard if you don't have one dedicated to your tablet. But, to do this, you'll need the Camera Connection Kit, which essentially turns the Lightning adapter into a USB port.

Why You Should Buy an iPad Keyboard

Despite the functionality of the iPad, some people prefer a physical keyboard, especially for lengthy typing sessions.

Type Faster

If you're more comfortable with a standard keyboard than a touch screen, an external keyboard may make it easier to browse the web and type messages.

Type on the Go

If you do a lot of typing while you're on the go, but you hate carrying around a laptop, using a keyboard with your iPad could be better solution.

Use Your iPad Like a Computer

Don't have a computer? Your iPad can do many things that a Mac can do. Get a stand for your iPad and use it with a keyboard, or look for a keyboard-case combo.

ipad bluetooth keyboard
Amazon

Why You Shouldn't Buy an iPad Keyboard

The on-screen keyboard may be better than a wired keyboard for some tasks. A few iOS features give it a helping hand.

The Virtual Touchpad

Touchscreen devices generally allow you to move the cursor to a specific part of the text by touching that area with your finger or holding your finger down to guide the cursor.

This action replicates what you do with the mouse, but often it's not quite precise enough to quickly place the cursor where you want or select a large text area. The virtual touchpad eliminates this problem by turning the on-screen keyboard into a touchpad when you touch the screen with two fingers. As you move your fingers around the touch screen, the cursor will move with them, giving you more precise control.

Auto-Correct

While auto-correct works with a physical keyboard, the feature often wastes more time than it saves when inputting a large amount of content. When you turn off the auto-correct feature, the iPad still highlights words it believes you misspelled, but instead of auto-correcting, it gives you the choice of which word to use. You can also use the suggested words on the screen to speed up your content entry by typing the first part of a word and then tapping the suggestion to complete it.

On-Screen Keyboard Alternatives

You can also use an alternative if you don't like the default on-screen keyboard. The iPad supports widgets, which run inside other apps, such as a photo filter that launches within Photos. If you prefer Swype or similar keyboards that let you glide your finger through words instead of tapping them out, you can install this type of keyboard as a widget.

Voice Dictation With Siri

And while Siri gets a lot of press for answering questions or being a personal assistant, it's also good at taking voice dictation. The standard on-screen keyboard has a microphone key on it. Anytime the keyboard is on the screen, you can tap this microphone key and dictate to your iPad.

The microphone button on an iPad keyboard

Wireless vs Wired vs Keyboard-Case Combo

The first decision you must make is whether to go with a standard wireless keyboard or opt for the keyboard-case combo. While a keyboard case essentially turns your iPad into a laptop, it does have an advantage. If you work on the train or bus or some other locations where you're using your lap as your desk, nothing beats the feel of a laptop for keeping the keyboard and the display steady.

Getting the iPad in and out of a keyboard case can be frustrating, but keeping it in the case always defeats the purpose of having a tablet. So, opting for the keyboard case may depend on how much time you want to spend with the keyboard. If you almost always want it available, the case is perfect. The case can be a good choice if you only need a keyboard on specific occasions, such as while traveling. But, if you fall into that in-between of needing a keyboard sometimes but wanting a tablet most of the time, you'll want to go with a wireless option.

The iPad works with most of the best Bluetooth keyboards on the market, so you don't need to buy a special keyboard built specifically for it with a price hiked up to match. The Smart Keyboard is a good option despite being somewhat expensive, but it only works with the new iPad Pro tablets. When looking at options, also think about what you're doing with the iPad when using the peripheral. You may want to buy a stand for the iPad if your case doesn't support propping the iPad up in some way.

Kensington KeyFolio Pro 2 iPad Keyboard Case
Kensington
FAQ
  • Why is my keyboard split on my iPad?

    The floating keyboard is enabled. To merge your split keyboard, tap a text field to make the keyboards appear, touch and hold the keyboard button on the lower right of one of the floating keyboards, then select Dock and Merge.

  • How do I move the keyboard on my iPad?

    To move the keyboard on iPad, long-press the Keyboard icon in the lower-right corner and choose Undock. Tap Dock to return the keyboard to its original position.

  • How do I make the keyboard bigger on my iPad?

    If your iPad keyboard isn't full-sized, place two fingers on the keyboard and spread your fingers apart to expand it back to full size.

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