5 reasons why a physical keyboard is great to have
The BlackBerry Key 2 Red is one of the most elegant looking phones I have ever had the pleasure to carry. The black keys framed by a delicious red body give this phone an unparalleled look. The rubberized back give it a good grip. And, BlackBerry even included a 3.5mm headphone jack!
But that keyboard does take up a lot of space, resulting in a much smaller screen than we’re used to these days. But is that a waste of real estate? I’m not so sure. BlackBerry was smart and put a lot of utility into that screen-sucking keyboard. Here are five great ways to use that keyboard – aside from typing.
The keyboard on the BlackBerry Key 2 is touch sensitive which makes it incredibly versatile. Learning the various gestures you can use on the keyboard can be world altering. For example, while you are typing, you’ll notice the text predictions coming up at the top of the keyboard. Rather than tapping on the word, you can simply swipe up beneath the word you want to insert that word into your text.
Also, a simple swipe to the left will erase the word you just typed.
Finally, double tap on the keyboard to enable cursor positioning. You can either swipe on the keyboard to position the cursor, or use the arrow keys at the top of the keyboard to move your cursor.
Currency key = ctrl
BlackBerry keyboards come packed with a “Currency Key” which, as its name suggests inputs the currency sign of the local language set on the keyboard. In the US, the currency key inserts a dollar sign. But, it can be reprogrammed, and one of the most useful settings can make the currency a CTRL key. This allows you to us copy/paste keyboard shortcuts on the keyboard. Currency + A selects all, Currency + X cuts, etc. That can be one of the most powerful uses of the BlackBerry KEY2 keyboard – it’s seriously life-changing – but there’s still more to talk about.
One argument against the physical keyboard is the fact that it uses up valuable screen real estate, that could otherwise display content. That’s a fair point, but one of the more annoying parts about all-screen devices is the fact that you need to use your finger to scroll pages, which means your finger gets in the way. Fortunately, in both portrait and landscape orientation, you can swipe across the keyboard to scroll pages up and down and keep the screen clear to read.
You can also assign commonly accessed apps and functions to keys on the keyboard. When you’re on your home screen, just press a key and launch the app of your choice. You can use T for twitter, or W to call your wife, etc. You can also assign short presses and long presses, so the same key can launch 2 different applications. That’s 52 apps or functions you can launch without touching the screen.
The Speed Key allows you to use those same shortcuts from within other apps. This shortcut addresses the common criticism of the KEYone that you had to be on the home screen to use the keyboard shortcuts. From within any app, you can press the Speed Key, and then execute a keyboard shortcut, saving you a step.
Finally, the spacebar on the keyboard has multiple uses. It is a fingerprint reader for unlocking the phone. Plus, it acts as a shutter button when the camera is open. What’s more, if you tap the spacebar to take a photo instead of full-pressing it, it captures a photo and stores it in a secure gallery, away from prying eyes. Finally, BlackBerry built some smart functionality into a space bar, so if you double press the space bar, you get a period. If you are typing an email address, you can type [space] for the “@” symbol, and the “.” in the domain extension.
Overall, BlackBerry is keeping its faithful happy with a physical keyboard, but it’s using that space wisely. If you can’t have a screen there, you can have the next best thing – a versatile area that makes your smartphone that much smarter.