iPad as an Input Device

It’s often said that the fastest input device is still the keyboard.  I thought I’d share a use-case where the iPad is actually a faster input device than the keyboard.

My father-in-law is a native Chinese speaker.  However, he has spent the past 40 years in the United States, and speaks and types primarily English.  For him, trying to type the Chinese characters on a keyboard isn’t natural.

Since there are thousands of Chinese characters, the standard keyboard has obvious natural limitations. If you’ve never seen the process of typing Chinese on a keyboard, it involves typing a key or keys that represent a class of character, then selecting from one of the many characters that descend from the class.  It’s not the most natural process, but for those that use it every day, it works well and can be done quite effectively.

However, to someone like my father-in-law, who occasionally composes an email in Chinese but doesn’t type enough Chinese on a regular basis to become proficient, the process can be brutally slow.

Enter the iPad.  With the language settings set to Chinese, you can simply draw Chinese characters with your finger, then tap a picture of the desired character to confirm.  It’s  a much more natural and effective solution.  So for this specific use-case, the keyboard has finally been ousted.