Apple iPhone is cool, but where is my keypad?

Apple's freshly announced iPhone looks like an extremely cool gadget that I wouldn't mind laying my hands on, and bring out The only drawback with the iPhone. I actually think the name "iPhone" is a bit misleading. To me this looks a handheld computer/PDA/iPod/web browsing device that also happens to double as a mobile phone. That said, it looks like it will blow everything else away completely. I want one. Now! However...

As I started reading about the iPhone I realised that this thing has no keypad. No physical keys at all, actually, at least as far as I can tell. Which got me thinking... how are you supposed to use this thing without keeping your eyes glued to the screen?

Whenever I use my mobile phone to write a text message or enter a phone number, the tactile feedback I get from the physical keys is quite important. It gives me that assuring feeling that "yes, I did press that key". Tactile feedback also makes it possible to operate a phone without looking at it all the time by feeling your way around the keypad, like when typing a text message while walking or during a meeting.

I have two eyes that work reasonably well, so for me the lack of tactile feedback isn't a problem I can't overcome. But what about people who are not as lucky? If this phone is "revolutionary", it should also work for people who can't see or are using it in less than ideal conditions, right?

If tactile feedback is not possible, which may currently be the case, I suppose the iPhone could give you audio feedback by announcing which key you just pressed. Hey, maybe it could even announce the word it just pulled from the dictionary while you are typing a text message.

It would be great if Apple's designers have thought about this, but I can't find any info about tactile or audio feedback on their site.

Anyone else have any insight on this matter?

Posted on January 9, 2007 in Quicklinks, Accessibility