Like every major update from Apple, iOS 16 also includes a 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 in the pre-installed keyboard app.
iOS 16 quietly added native Dvorak keyboard support, much to the delight of geeks like me https://t.co/QtzDCQoeMN pic.twitter.com/2IcJ6iOeuH
— The Verge (@verge) October 14, 2022
You wouldn’t know it yet, it’s a Dvorak keyboard! It rivals the QWERTY layout for English and AZERTY for French, which in theory would be more ergonomic, especially for Shakespeare’s language.
Dvorak, with the designation AOEUIDHTNS, was created in the 1930s by August Dvorak and William Dealey. So why was this layout created when we already have QWERTY and AZERTY?
The story of the typewriter
Recall that QWERTY was patented in 1878, at the time of typewriters. And this arrangement is calculated in such a way as to remove letters that regularly occur side by side in words.
Why was it necessary to remove these keys? For mechanical reasons. Indeed, in typewriters, when adjacent keys are pressed simultaneously, the corresponding bars may jam.
The AZERTY layout for the French language was created with the same logic. And since these layouts were not originally optimized for ergonomics or typing speed, we tried to create other layouts.
Dvorak is one of the newer keyboard layouts that will be more optimized for typing speed (as it remains in theory) and no longer take into account the mechanical limitations of older typewriters.
While the QWERTY keyboard is considered the most efficient for typing purposes, the DVORAK keyboard has been 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 can I use it?
The existence of support for the Dvorak keyboard by the pre-installed keyboard app on the iPhone from iOS 16 was discovered by our colleagues from Ars Technica. And if you want to try this new layout, it’s simple:
- Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards
- Under Keyboards, select Add Keyboard
- Then select English as language and select Dvorak keyboard
As you mentioned, Apple only offers Dvorak for English. And this is normal, because this is not a universal layout, but rather an optimized layout for the English language (in theory).
In addition, this keyboard is optimized for typing on a computer keyboard, not for typing on a smartphone where two thumbs are used. But even so, Dvorak’s presentation will please some enthusiasts, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. “What I liked most about Dvorak at the time was the feeling of using less energy with the fingers.”he already revealed, according to Ars Technica.
If, like Steve Wozniak, you’ve used a Dvorak keyboard at some point in your life, you might feel nostalgic when you see this layout on your iPhone screen.
And for Android?
It should be noted that the novelty is not the arrival of Dvorak to the iPhone, but the arrival of this provision in the program offered natively by Apple. In fact, those who want to use this layout no longer need to install a third-party keyboard app (like Google).
Otherwise, note that on Android, the Google Gboard keyboard already supports Dvorak. You just need to go to Gbaord settings, add a keyboard. Plus, even if you choose French, Dvorak is available on Gboard.
And for French?
Research has also been done to create a typing optimized keyboard for French, unlike our old AZERTY. Alternatives include the Bépo keyboard.
As mentioned on the project website, it was inspired by the work of August Dvorak’s method. “This method respects several principles, in particular placing the most frequently used letters on the most accessible keys, which cuts the finger movements on the keyboard in half compared to the azerty layout”we can read too.
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’s going to be very difficult to convince people to relearn how to type on a keyboard. That is why typewriters are rarely used, but QWERTY and AZERTY layouts are still the most used.