Tired of QWERTY? Beginning with iOS 16— which launched last month — Apple’s iPhone now supports the 86-year-old Dvorak keyboard layout natively. Previously, fans of the Dvorak script needed to install a third-party app to use the layout.
Dvorak uses a different key layout than the standard QWERTY layout with the aim of improving typing speed and ergonomic comfort. August Dvorak and William Dealey invented layout in 1936 after studying the shortcomings of the 60-year-old QWERTY keyboard on typewriters.
Apple and Dvorak have an interesting history. The company first included native Dvorak support for your computers on the US model of the Apple IIcreleased in 1984. It included a special “Keyboard” button that would switch the layout between QWERTY and Dvorak logically, but the physical keys would have to be rearranged to match if you needed a reference label.
Interestingly, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (“Woz”) found out about Dvorak around 1993 and never looked back (he wasn’t involved with Dvorak at Apple IIc, he says). In an email to Ars Technica, Woz recounted how he first learned Dvorak. “I was on a flight to Tokyo and found Mavis Beacon teaching Dvorak writing,” he wrote. “I spent 5 hours learning and never looked at a QWERTY keyboard again. That’s all I needed. My son had already successfully switched, learning Dvorak in no time and quickly reaching the same speed as typing on QWERTY in about a week. “
To use Dvorak on your iPhone, first make sure you’ve updated to iOS 16 or later. Next, open the Settings app and go to General > Keyboard > Keyboards, then tap on your language and select “Dvorak” from the list. The next time you pick up the keyboard, you’ll see the different layout, with a home row that says “AOEUIDHTNS,” exactly as August Dvorak would have liked.
It’s worth noting that Dvorak’s supposed speed improvements come from using 10 fingers to type, so if you’re just learning Dvorak, you may not see any speed improvement over QWERTY when typing with two fingers, like the thumbs. However, long-time users of Dvorak will probably be satisfied.
“What I liked most about Dvorak back then was the feeling of using less energy with the fingers,” Woz said. “Since iPhones came along, I had to resort to QWERTY, but it wasn’t in my brain anymore. I had been a very fast QWERTY typist all my life, but now it’s gone. I have to look at the letters on my iPhone.”
Ars told Wozniak about native Dvorak support in iOS 16, and he responded, “OMG! Thank you so much!”
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