There’s no question that typing on the iPad’s digital keyboard just isn’t the same as using a physical one. Developed by the company of the same name, iKeyboard ($35) is an attempt to make it easier to type on the glass display. The plastic frame physically delineates the keys, supposedly offering “all the advantages of an iPad wireless keyboard without the footprint.” While the size claims are true, the actual benefits of the accessory were truly marginal.
The two-layer plastic frame uses strips to adhere to the screen, placing atop the iPad’s glass screen an opaque black frame with holes for key-shaped clear plastic membrane surfaces. It measures in at 8.75” long and just over 3” tall, but is thin enough that a Smart Cover fits on top, and still magnetically locks the iPad. The adhesive strips can be repositioned as necessary, with scotch tape recommend as the best way to clean them.
Obviously iKeyboard is only useful when typing; it otherwise obscures about half the screen. The cutouts line up properly with the English keyboard and number/symbol selector, but don’t fit properly over international keyboards, making this an accessory only native English typists will consider. Conceptually, having physically separated keys might make it easier to type, and improve your results when touch typing. In reality, however, we found the results to be a big letdown. While the plastic frame does provide a guide for your fingers, the clear membrane inhibits the touch controls to a degree that’s unacceptable. You have to press slightly harder to get the raised plastic bubbles to touch the glass display, and they sometimes stick, causing extra letter presses. We actually moved slower with iKeyboard in place than when typing directly on the iPad’s screen.
If iKeyboard offers any real benefit, it’s being able to type a bit easier without looking at the iPad’s on-screen keys. Yes, you’ll have to press differently than you’re used to, but you’ll at least have a guide so that your fingers stay where they should be. Other than that, we found no reason to recommend this accessory. Most users will be better off getting used to the iPad’s digital keyboard than spending $35 on an accessory that makes it even more difficult to use. The idea’s intriguing, but the execution really needs some additional work.
Company and Price
Compatible: All iPads