Like every major update from Apple, iOS 16 includes a very large number of new features, and it is difficult to list them all in one article. But among the new things the Cupertino company introduced with iOS 16 is support for a new keyboard layout on its pre-installed keyboard app.
iOS 16 quietly added native Dvorak keyboard support, delighting weirdos like me https://t.co/QtzDCQoeMN pic.twitter.com/2IcJ6iOeuH
— The Verge (@verge) October 14, 2022
You may not know it yet, it’s the Dvorak keyboard! It is a competitor of the QWERTY layout for English and the AZERTY for French which, theoretically, would be more ergonomic, especially for the language of Shakespeare.
With an AOEUIDHTNS layout, Dvorak was created by August Dvorak and William Dealey in the 1930s. But why was this layout created when we already had QWERTY and AZERTY?
A typewriter story
As a reminder, QWERTY was patented in 1878, at the time of typewriters. And this arrangement has been calculated in such a way as to distance the letters which are regularly found side by side in the words.
Why did these keys have to be moved away? For mechanical reasons. Indeed, on typewriters, when adjacent keys are pressed at the same time, the corresponding rods can jam.
The AZERTY layout, for the French language, was created following the same logic. And since these layouts were not initially optimized for ergonomics or typing speed, we tried to create other layouts.
The Dvorak is one of those new keyboard layouts that would be (because it remains theory) more optimized for typing speed, and which no longer take into account the mechanical constraints that existed on older typewriters.
DID YOU KNOW
Although the “QWERTY” keyboard is considered the most effective for typing purposes, the DVORAK keyboard was proven to be at least 20 times faster. #funfacts #ITFacts pic.twitter.com/BJPn8UdSGo
—ReadWrite (@RWW) January 13, 2019
Apple’s native keyboard supports Dvorak, how do I use it?
The existence of support for the Dvorak keyboard by the keyboard application preinstalled on iPhone, from iOS 16, was discovered by our colleagues from Ars Technica. And if you want to test this new layout, it’s simple:
- Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards
- Under Keyboards, choose Add Keyboard
- Then, choose English as the language, and choose the Dvorak keyboard
As you will have noticed, Apple only offers Dvorak for the English language. And this is normal, since it is not a universal layout, but rather a layout (theoretically) optimized for English.
In addition, this keyboard has been optimized for typing on a computer keyboard, and not for typing on a smartphone, where two thumbs are used. But regardless, the introduction of the Dvorak is sure to please some enthusiasts, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. “What I liked the most about Dvorak at the time was the feeling of using less energy with the fingers”he had already revealed, according to Ars Technica.
If, like Steve Wozniak, you’ve used a Dvorak keyboard at some point in your life, you might get a kick of nostalgia when you see this layout pop up on your iPhone screen.
And for Android?
It should be noted that the novelty is not the arrival of Dvorak on iPhone, but the arrival of this provision on the app natively offered by Apple. In essence, those who want to use this layout no longer have to install a third-party keyboard app (like Google’s).
Otherwise, on Android, be aware that the Google Gboard keyboard already supports Dvorak. You just need to go to Gbaord settings, add a keyboard. Moreover, on Gboard, Dvorak is available even if you select the French language.
And for the French language?
For the French language, research has also been carried out to create a keyboard optimized for typing, unlike our good old AZERTY. And among the alternatives, there is the Bépo keyboard.
As mentioned on the website of this project, it was inspired by the work of August Dvorak’s method. “This method respects several principles, in particular placing the most used letters on the most accessible keys, halving the movements of the fingers on the keyboard compared to the azerty layout”can we also read.
The BEPO keyboard in test and debate with colleagues this morning! pic.twitter.com/Uvj8kZUDO7
— Julien Noé // Probes_xr 🛰️ 💻 (@Probes_xr) June 13, 2017
But the truth is, no matter how good alternative keyboards are, it will be very difficult to convince people to relearn how to type on a keyboard. This is why, even though typewriters are hardly used anymore, QWERTY and AZERTY layouts are still the most used.