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The dilemmas in creating the iPhone keyboard

You may not have heard of it by now, at least from Ken Kocienda, a historian by training who, by chance, ended up working as a software engineer at Apple for more than 15 years. Kocienda taught himself programming and went through several companies during the early days of the web before landing on Apple, in 2001, where he worked in the software teams that created the Safari, O iPhone/iPod touch/iPad it's the Apple Watch.

Almost two years after he left Ma, he released the book ?Creative Selection: Inside Apple?s Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs? (in free translation: ?Within the Design Process of Apple During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs?) in the next month, in which he details how the name of the work suggests the process of creating the gadgets from Apple. He also recounts his own work histories during the creation of iPhones / iPads and what it was like to present his projects to Steve Jobs.

Ken Kocienda's book

In an excerpt from the book released by 9to5Mac, the engineer describes one of the biggest problems faced by the designers of the first iPhone: how to include a full keyboard on a 3.5-inch screen. Kocienda recalls that, right at the beginning, Apple designers established that the buttons needed to be at least 44 pixels wide to be touched by a human finger. This represented a problem for the virtual keyboard that tried to replicate the physical, as there would be so many keys on the same line that it would be practically impossible to hit the letter with the touch.

In mid-2005, the head of iPhone software at the time, Scott Forstall, put the development of all other projects on hold and commissioned the entire team to find possible solutions for the keyboard. Kocienda was part of this group and started working on several design lines, exploring different projects and visualization methods, as illustrated in the notes below released by the engineer.

Notes on the iPhone keyboard

As you can see on the left, Kocienda imagined a large space followed by a smaller frame, where the alphabet would go. Touching that line would enlarge the keys next to the largest, which could be pressed to add the letter to the text. On the right, the idea was to put several letters within a kind of key, something that was very common in devices (with physical keyboard, obviously) at the time. In the second project, the system would also try to guess which word the user intended to type and a slash (in the ?Suggestions? style) would allow to select exactly the term that would be written.

The excerpt does not describe how the final design of the original iPhone keyboard was chosen, however, for those who wanted to discover, it is already possible to pre-order Kocienda's book from Amazon, where the eBook version costs from R $ 55 . At the iBooks Store, it is on sale for R $ 50. The official launch will take place on September 4th.