My iPad is a wonderful tool, and while I read a lot of material on it I also use it to compose emails, take notes and take meeting minutes. While the iPad on-screen keyboard is useful for small input tasks, particularly if you have a way to stabilise the screen, I’ve found that other input methods are helpful in certain situations.
I snickered at Siri’s foibles when it was released but it’s definitely improved over time. I find Siri useful when I’m on my own and I want to dictate notes or dump ideas and don’t care about formatting or correct spelling. I find myself using Siri while I’m walking, which is a situation where I can’t edit documents effectively anyway and most of the time it’ll do a good job of capturing my ideas so that I can incorporate them later into a more structured document (I dictated the key ideas for this blog post via Siri while I was walking to the train station).
I learnt to use a stylus when I had a Palm M500 and I found it quite an effective input method, and faster than a touch-screen keyboard. On the iPad I use MyScript Notes, with a Kensington Virtuoso stylus and it’s working well for me. MyScript Notes has very good handwriting recognition and a number of easy gestures to erase and move text which help with the iPad’s inability to easily edit text (my finger always makes it hard to place the cursor when I want to correct a spelling mistake). It also exports the text to other applications but I see that as a workaround because it’s an App and not a system-wide service , like it was on the Palm Pilot. I do wish stylus input were available for all applications in the way that Siri is; I can live in hope. There are other iOS applications that support stylus input, including Penultimate, but they didn’t have the features that I was looking for. There are reviews out there that compare them, so I won’t bother 1.
I find typing and editing with a physical keyboard to be a much better experience than using the on-screen keyboard. I use a spare Apple Bluetooth job that we had lying around but there are also keyboards that are integrated into the case like the Logitech Ultrathin which makes transport easier. I prefer a full-sized keyboard, and I’m really fond of my Portenzo BookCase case so I’m happy to lug an extra device for the times that I plan to do a bunch of typing, at least until something better comes along!
It makes no sense for me to recommend one method over another as it all depends on your usage patterns. I use them all, and exploring others is fun too!
Table Reference Appendix Thing
|Type||Extra equipment?||Easy editing?||Usable system-wide?||Hands-free?|