Keyboard Shortcuts, New iOS 5 Feature, Is Great For Productivity And Pranking Your Friends
"Keyboard shortcuts" is one of the more notable of the over 200 new features in iOS 5, the latest mobile operating system from Apple that is available for download now. These keyboard shortcuts work kind of like an intentional auto-correct: You can designate certain abbreviations and acronyms for "text expansion"; when you type these abbreviations into an email, text message or note, they automatically lengthen into the longer, designated phrase.
So, for example, one keyboard shortcut that comes preloaded with iOS 5 is "omw" for "On my way!" If you type "omw" into any field that accepts text on the iPhone, iPad or iPad Touch, it automatically "corrects" to "On my way!" after you press the space bar:
Very easy and intuitive.
Now, basically, there are two ways you can use these new shortcuts: The first way is for good, and the second way is for evil. Let's assume you're all wholesome people and start with the good:
USING KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS FOR GOOD
Keyboard shortcuts can be incredibly useful: I've set up "gml" as a shortcut for my long Gmail address, "huffml" as a shortcut for my even longer HuffPost email address, "bti10" for "Be there in 10 minutes" and, of course, "hpt" for "http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tech" for use in my web browser. Lifehacker has also compiled a good list of suggested keyboard shortcuts that can help you save time and some pain in your fingers, and keyboard shortcuts are totally customizable to expand into whatever phrases you want them to.
To enable these keyboard shortcuts and get to time-saving:
1. Click on your "Settings" icon.
2. Click on "General."
3. Click "Keyboard."
4. At the bottom of the "Keyboard" section, click "Add New Shortcut..."
5. Type the shortcut abbreviation in the "Shortcut" field, and what you want the shortcut to expand to in the "Phrase" field.
6. Click "Save."
Here's the setup and utility of keyboard shortcuts in one screen. The "Add New Shortcut..." setup screen on the left, and what a created keyboard shortcut looks like in action is on the right:
Pretty nifty, huh?
Well, not so fast. These keyboard shortcuts are not all productivity and usability; they also come, for better or for worse, with a (potentially hilarious) dark side.
USING KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS FOR EVIL
When you're the one deciding on the abbreviations and the phrases, keyboard shortcuts are useful, sure; but when your jerk-friend gets a hold of your phone, keyboard shortcuts can become one of the biggest nuisances -- or best pranks -- on the entire Apple system.
If you leave your phone unguarded at a party, or on the kitchen table when you go to the restroom, or just around a mischievous boyfriend or girlfriend in general, you are now leaving yourself open to have a joke played on you. Now that keyboard shortcuts have come to iOS 5, there is nothing stopping a friend from enabling, without your knowledge, a keyboard shortcut like this:
Or like this:
Or even like this:
Yeah, your friends can now Rick Roll you any time you leave your phone out where they can get to it. Be forewarned, iOS 5 users: You may be accidentally typing the lyrics to "Never Gonna Give You Up" every time you type the word "Never" on your updated Apple device.
When Apple added keyboard shortcuts to iOS 5, it was probably envisioning them as agents of productivity, not pranking. Now that they're loaded, however, they can certainly be used easily, and deliciously, for both.
So what can you do to stop yourself from getting pranked? Well, if you're paranoid that it will happen to you -- if you have one of those friends or spouses or funny uncles that you just KNOW is going to try this on your phone when you aren't looking -- you can set up a passcode lock ("Settings" > "General" > "Passcode Lock") to prevent your trickster friends from mucking around with your iPhone. And if you do get pranked, you can get rid of individual keyboard shortcuts pretty easily. Go to the "Keyboard" screen and press the "Edit" button in the top right-hand corner. A bunch of red-and-white circles will pop up next to each Keyboard Shortcut; push the red-and-white circle next to the shortcut you want deleted, and it will disappear for good.
If you're really paranoid: No, there is not, to my knowledge, any way to turn off keyboard shortcuts on the entire phone; that's one feature that it seems that Apple is never going to give up. Sorry to let you down, though perhaps Apple CEO Tim Cook's explanation of the important of keyboard shortcuts will ease your concerns.
Apple debuted the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/04/siri-apple-iphone-4s-voice-personal-assistant_n_994605.html?1317758678" target="_hplink">Siri virtual assistant</a>, a voice-controlled interface designed exclusively for the iPhone 4S. Siri lets the user schedule calendar events and reminders, set alarms, find information about local businesses--just by asking. The hands-free system even talks back to you. <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/nickbilton/status/121288597952405504" target="_hplink">The New York Times's Nick Bilton</a> notes that it sounds like "A female Hal who had too many vodka tonics at the bar." <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/04/apple-reveals-siri-voice-interface-the-intelligent-assistant/" target="_hplink">According to TechCrunch</a>, "Siri will be a beta for the time being, as it only supports English, German, and French voice input, but there are more language add-ons and tweaks to come." <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
The iPhone 4S is built around Apple's dual-core A5 processor, which also powers the iPad 2. <a href="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/10/04Apple-Launches-iPhone-4S-iOS-5-iCloud.html" target="_hplink">Apple claims that this new chip</a> "delivers up to twice the processing power and up to seven times faster graphics than iPhone 4." <em>Image courtesy of the AP.</em>
Better Download Speeds
Although the new iPhone isn't a 4G device, Apple claims that it can rival high-speed devices. <a href="http://gizmodo.com/5846504/" target="_hplink">Writes Gizmodo</a>, "the new iPhone 4S runs on faster HSPA+ networks. That means that your telephone will download stuff faster from the Internet. Before it was up to 7.2 Megabits-per-second downloads." <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
New Operating System
Right out of the box, the new iPhone will run Apple's upgraded operating system, iOS 5. Apple says the new OS introduces over 200 new features, such as push notifications to all mobile devices, wireless upgrades, improved mobile browsing via Apple's Safari app, location-aware reminders, a webcam shortcut that's accessible from the lock screen, the ability to edit photos and many others. <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
More Carrier Choices
In addition to availability through AT&T and Verizon, the iPhone 4S will be offered by a new carrier: Sprint. "[T]he specs for Sprint's version perfectly match the Verizon model -- both have an EVDO radio for 3G within the US, and a GSM one for service outside the country," <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/04/sprint-iphone-officially-announced-on-sale-october-14/" target="_hplink">Engadget writes</a>. <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
Apple's latest iPhone is a "world phone," which means users can use it to place calls and surf the web on different networks, an ideal feature for jet-setters and one that previous iPhones didn't offer. <a href="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/10/04Apple-Launches-iPhone-4S-iOS-5-iCloud.html" target="_hplink">From Apple's official press release:</a> <blockquote>Improving on the innovative stainless steel external, dual-antenna design of iPhone 4, iPhone 4S is the first phone to intelligently switch between two antennas to send and receive. iPhone 4S now supports twice the download speed with HSDPA of up to 14.4 Mbps and iPhone 4S is a world phone, so both CDMA and GSM customers can now roam internationally on GSM networks.</blockquote> <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
In the United States, customers can pick up a 16GB iPhone 4S for $199, a 32GB model for $299 and a beefy 64GB model for $399. <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
<a href="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/10/04Apple-Launches-iPhone-4S-iOS-5-iCloud.html" target="_hplink">Pre-orders for the iPhone 4S begin on October 7</a>. The device will hit shelves in the U.S. on October 14. Consumers around the world will have to wait until December 2011, when the handset will make its way to Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, <a href="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/10/04Apple-Launches-iPhone-4S-iOS-5-iCloud.html" target="_hplink">according to Apple</a>. <em>Image courtesy of the AP.</em>
Longer Battery Life
Apple promises that the faster A5 processor won't degrade battery life but will actually allow the iPhone 4S to use energy more efficiently than the iPhone 4. Indeed, the company promises up to 8 hours of battery life when placing calls via 3G. "If you set your phone to 2G, you will get 14 hours of talk time," <a href="http://gizmodo.com/5846504/" target="_hplink">writes Gizmodo</a>. "3G web browsing will give you six hours of battery life, while Wi-Fi access runs up to nine hours." <em>Image courtesy of the AP.</em>
The new iPhone also comes with a camera upgrade. The device's rear-facing webcam has been bumped up from 5 megapixels up to 8 megapixels and will offer 1080p HD video recording. Images captured on the iPhone 4S will feature over 60 percent more pixels than on the previous handset, <a href="http://venturebeat.com/2011/10/04/apple-roundup-apple-throws-the-press-for-a-loop-with-iphone-4s-but-no-iphone-5/" target="_hplink">that's a resolution of 3264 x 2448</a>. <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
A feature of iOS 5, <a href="http://www.gottabemobile.com/2011/10/04/airplay-mirroring-comes-to-iphone-4s/" target="_hplink">Airplay Mirroring</a> allows the iPhone sync wirelessly to an Apple TV, letting the user watch videos or view photos from their phone on the big screen. <em>Images courtesy of Getty.</em>
The new iPhone looks just like its predecessor, <a href="http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html" target="_hplink">measuring</a> 4.5 inches high, 2.31 wide and 0.37 inches thick, <a href="http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html" target="_hplink">according to Apple's measurements</a>. The 4S will weigh 4.9 ounces, just a hair heavier than its predecessor, which weighed 4.8 ounces. <em>Image courtesy of Getty.</em>
The new iPhone will be available in white as well as black. <em>Image courtesy of the AP.</em>