iPhone Keyboards/Pads including slide-out

Judging by the postings in this forum, some Scrivener users are using their iPhone/touches or iPads for more than the quick note-taking I use mine for. That makes sense. Portability on the go is very handy. Yesterday, riding on the bus, a woman across from me was using an iPad for reading, and I noticed that, for many purposes, it was far handier while riding a bus than a laptop. No messy laptop balancing. Just hold it in your hand. Later that day, I was working for the Picasso exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum and noticed a couple of people bringing their iPads apparently as references while viewing his works. Again, that’s obviously better than struggling with an open laptop.

The one less-than-perfect benefit to using iDevices on the go is probably typing. A real keyboard or keypad gives tactile feedback that makes it much more accurate than a touch keypad while bouncing around on a bus and especially with the tiny keypad of a iPhone/touch.

That’s true with me. When I ride a bus, I usually listen to podcasts. Reading the tiny type in my Instapaper iPhone app is a bit much and typing something is almost impossible.

That’s why I thought, “Hey, nifty!” this morning when I got an email informing me that a NuuMiniKey keyboard for the iPhone 4 would be coming out in February. At $69, the price isn’t bad. It’s what Apple charges for their compact but full-sized Bluetooth keyboard. Apparently in my wanderings online looking for a good mini-keyboard, one specifically adapted for Mac devices, I’d left my email address with the Nuu people. The details are here:


You’ve probably seen keyboards like this before. It slides out from beneath an iPhone 4 like the keypad on many (non-Apple) smart phones and allows you to type in landscape mode without an onscreen keyboard, probably the best writing mode on an iPhone.

A lot of thought seems to have gone into its design, including navigation keys to make shifting to screen touching unnecessary and the use of command keys for cut and paste like the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. This really is a keyboard designed for the iPhone and not one intended for Palm PDAs or Windows netbooks.

There’s even backlighting for the keyboard, which is handy in poor lighting and something Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard lacks. The description doesn’t say, but I assume it has its own battery, charged somehow, and that it communicates with the iPhone via Bluetooth. They also don’t say if it can be used with the keyboard held in hand and an iPhone (or iPad) propped up on a table in front of you. It was at a booth at CES in Las Vegas, so I imagine there’ll soon be reviews in the Mac media.

At any rate, it’s something I thought Scrivener fans might be interested in, particularly with all the new, iPhone-friendly features of Scrivener 2.0. Feel free to comment on how this keyboard might or might not fit into your writing practices or if you use an alternative method of text input.

Oops, I just discovered more information on the MiniKey here:


Here are a few quotes:

So, it is just a specialized Bluetooth keyboard and could be used with a touch 4th gen with a bit of wobbling or with a little tape added at the right places. They now need to comment on whether it will work with the soon-out Verizon iPhone and its slight differences.

Feel free to comment.

–Michael W. Perry, editor of Across Asia on a Bicycle

In other threads, I’ve praised the iPad Bluetooth Keyboard case
Sold at ThinkGeek for $60 + $13 for shipping.
It folds out, allowing use for multi-touch surfing or keyboard typing.
Plus it makes a nice padded case that doesn’t get smeary and sticky.

Here’s a bit more on the MiniKey from Nuu itself. The Micro-USB was a suggestion I made that it recharge via that connector, since cell phone makers (including Apple) have committed to it as a standard way to charge. That means that in a year or so, you’ll need to carry only one charger for most of your mobile gadgets.

The inclusion of backlighting was a good idea, making it smart with a power-save mode is brilliant. Apple should do the same with its compact Bluetooth keyboard.

–Mike Perry

ZAGGmate from zagg.com. $99 for very slim case with bluetooth keyboard.

Just noticed this folding keyboard. I’m using the latest ipod touch more than I thought I would. Any advice or comments would be welcomed. Cheers from Oz.

check this …


With portable Bluetooth keyboards, it’s a game called pick-your-poison. Any choice is a compromise.

  1. Foldable keyboards are coat-pocket compact but wobble at the hinge. I’ve got one intended for Palms and it doesn’t work well placed on my lap. I need to use it on a table top. Note that the Journo mentioned above folds.

  2. Solid but full-sized keyboards like Apple’s Bluetooth model give you a standard, touch-typing keyboard for speed. Carried with an iPad, they’re no big deal. But carried with an iPhone, they’re bigger and more trouble to manage. You’ll have to lug about a case you don’t otherwise need. The big advantage, and the reason I got one, is that the keyboard layout is identical to that on a MacBook, making switching between the two easy.

  3. Solid but reduced-sized keyboards like those on netbooks. I’ve not seen one for sale, but if you find one, be sure you can type on it without feeling cramped.

  4. Thumb-typing keyboards like those found on Blackberries and smart phones. The Nuu keyboard I mentioned in the first post is a quality example of this sort, as are the low-quality $20 and up mini-keyboards you find on eBay. If you adapt well to thumb typing they’re shirt-pocket sized and free up all the space on an iPhone screen for text, making landscape mode more practical.

The Nuu Minikey is particularly nifty, since it becomes part of an iPhone 4, meaning there’s one less item to forget or misplace. If I had an iPhone 4, it’d be my first choice. Alas, I have a 3G, which makes it of no value to me. I type on that tiny screen.


–Michael W. Perry, Untangling Tolkien