iOS 7 for iPhones has been getting a lot of attention lately. But what about iOS 7 on iPads? This post will focus on two areas that are very important to iPad users – reading and typing.
Making Reading Fun Again
Apple introduced a new text display system in iOS 7 called Dynamic Type. It allows iPad applications to have a common method of displaying and editing text. The good news is that over time, more and more iPad applications will work consistently in this area. It also means that you will be able to customize how text display works across all applications. But the bad news is that for a lot of people, text is harder to read on iOS 7 than it was on iOS 6!
For example, here is an email message on iOS 6:
Here is that same email message in iOS 7:
Not as easily to read, since the font is thinner and smaller.
But there is some very good news – iOS allows the iPad’s text display to be customized, so it can be greatly improved. But to do so, you need to go to an area of Settings that you probably don’t normally venture into – Accessibility (the sixth item in the General Settings list). Here’s what the Accessibility settings look like:
The first thing you want to do is turn the Bold Text switch on. This will make all text on the iPad bold, which improves readability remarkably. This switch is a little scary – you will get the following warning:
Don’t worry – go ahead and click “Continue”. Your iPad will reboot and come back in a few seconds. Let’s take a look at what text now looks like:
Hey, that looks better already! Text will be easier to read in other parts of your iPad as well.
You can go a step further and change text size everywhere with the Larger Type setting in Accessibility:
There is also a Type Size setting in General Settings which does the same thing, just with a smaller range. Here is what the email message looks like after increasing the type size:
Now the text on your iPad is easily readable once more, and it can be adjusted to suite your tastes. Pretty cool!
iOS 7 Touchfire Typing Compatibility
Touchfire makes a thin, transparent 3-D keyboard that attaches magnetically over your iPad’s on-screen keyboard:
We recently completed testing the Touchfire keyboard with the final version of iOS 7. Here’s what it looks like on a full-size iPad:
We just launched a Kickstarter project featuring Touchfire for iPad mini – here’s what a pre-production mini keyboard looks like on iOS 7:
The good news is that the iOS 7 on-screen keyboard has the exact same physical layout as the iOS 6 keyboard, down to the pixel. So the Touchfire keys line up with the on-screen keyboard exactly the same as they do under iOS 6.
The changes to the iOS 7 keyboard are purely visual. The lettering on the keyboard use a skinnier font, which makes them a bit harder to see through the Touchfire. On the other hand, the iOS 7 key tops are white instead of gray, so the alphanumeric keys really pop visually. The auxiliary keys (carriage return, backspace, “123”, etc) are now a dark gray with black lettering, so these are the hardest to see. But this doesn’t seem to be a significant problem, since these keys are quite obvious.
We did find one more Accessibility setting that makes the iOS 7 keyboard (and everything else, for that matter) extremely easy to see – Invert Colors. Here’s what it does:
It certainly makes text easy to read, and it gives your iPad a real film noir esthetic. But it’s certainly not for everyone!
Even though iOS 7 provides a less than optimal text reading experience when first installed, it is possible to change the Accessibility settings to significantly enhance text readability and customize it to your liking. Note that these same hints can be used to make your iPhone more readable as well under iOS 7.
The Touchfire keyboard is fully compatible with iOS 7, both the full-size and the mini versions.