I’ve written before about my attempts to use the iPad more aggressively as a laptop replacement, and I am starting to have some success. In particular, the combination of the Twelve South Compass iPad Stand (more here) and the Marware Sport Grip iPad Case have made the thing much more useful. The rubberized (actually silicone) Marware case improves “lap grip” for casual typing, and the Compass makes the iPad more suitable for tabletop use in 3 different positions.
I’ve also started using my Apple Bluetooth aluminum keyboards (at home and at work) with the iPad, and aside from temperamental pairing (basically, any paired Mac laptop within 1/4 mile takes precedence over the iPad, so you constantly have to un-pair your laptop and re-pair the iPad), this works great too. Now I’ve started to fiddle around the edges of the system to make it incrementally more usable.
One thing that drives me crazy is that (unless you buy the custom keyboard dock) there’s no keyboard shortcut for “press the Home button on the iPad,” and so no way to activate fast app switching without fumbling with the iPad touchscreen. Except, wait a minute — as I learned this morning, there is! It takes advantage of VoiceOver, the iOS accessibility scheme.
It’s actually quite easy (click through to the source post for more).
First, you activate VoiceOver on the iPad, and specify that a Home button triple-press will turn VoiceOver on or off. Then, you just learn a few simple commands and practice, and a lot of common quickie things (like app switching, scrolling through web pages, etc.) become possible without taking your hands off the keyboard. This is most useful when, e.g., you’re writing a blog post on the iPad, in the WordPress app, using the keyboard, and you want to hop over to a web page for a second to check something. Now you can do that without your hands leaving the keyboard, as follows:
- press ctrl-opt-H twice to bring up the app switcher
- press right-arrow to move to Safari, then ctrl-opt-spacebar to tap
- press opt-down-arrow to scroll in Safari (or, if needed, right-arrow to move to the page selection button, etc.)
- when done, switch back, via ctrl-opt-H twice, then right-arrow as needed, then ctrl-opt-spacebar to tap
It’s easier than it sounds. And this is without using Quick Nav (as described in the article, which for some kinds of operations is faster). Try it and see.