The latest version of Apple’s iOS platform, iOS 11, is now available to the public. It’s still in beta for now – a full release will come in the fall – but, per usual, it brings several notable features to the iPhone and iPad.
The update is particularly focused on the latter, but the iPhone is getting a few worthwhile upgrades as well.
We’ve already told you about the new customizable Control Center and the less obnoxious volume box, but here’s another nifty one: Apple’s default QuickType keyboard is getting a dedicated one-handed-keyboard mode.
That means it’s possible to crunch the keyboard over to one side of the screen, making it easier to reach across the entirety of the keyboard when you have only one hand free.
Accessing the new one-handed mode is simple enough. If you hold down the emoji (or globe) icon, you’ll see three little keyboard icons. If you select the one with an arrow pointing to the right, the keyboard will shift to the right. Select the one pointing to the left, and it’ll go left.
The result will be a keyboard closer in size to the one on the smaller iPhone SE. It might take a bit to get used to, but it should be useful for those who use an iPhone Plus model, which can be unwieldy for those without huge hands. It’s a nice fallback for when you’re standing on the subway.
When you want to go back to normal, just tap the arrow in the blank space that’s created by the keyboard shift, or hold down the emoji icon again and select the center icon.
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Cleverly, Apple has made this work on a system level, so if you don’t put the keyboard back to normal in a certain app, it’ll stay in the one-handed mode until you change it back. Just know that all of this works only when the phone is vertically oriented. It’s also not available on the iPad.
To be clear, Apple is playing catch-up. Third-party keyboards like Microsoft’s Word Flow have had a one-handed mode for years. And we still find Google’s Gboard to be more robust on the whole, even if it doesn’t have this sort of one-handed mode.
But QuickType has been improving, and it’s still as quick as a piece of native software should be. Adding a feature like this, which has been wanted by iPhone enthusiasts for some time, should only help its cause.
Now let’s just hope a swipe-typing mode comes with iOS 12.