iOS keyboard sounds

Typing on a real keyboard is a wonderful auditory experience. On mine, I find every key produces a slightly different sound when struck. The characters A to Z sound similar, but decidedly different from modifier keys, which are different again from function keys. Return isn’t quite like anything else, and the space bar is remarkably distinctive. I hope it goes without saying that audible feedback is exceedingly important: don’t think the benefits of real keyboards are purely about tactility.

The iOS keyboard makes the same click sound for every key, including those that do not type anything such as shift and the mode switch key (.?123). What if iOS’s virtual keys made different sounds? We could have unique sounds for:

This would make it easier to identify errors and hopefully allow faster, more confident typing.

Am I solving a real problem? Well, I sometimes think I am deleting a word or two of text, then look back at my iPhone and see I have just typed in a string of ‘m’s. Also, my main problem with the iOS keyboard is that I often miss space and hit ‘b’ or ‘v’. Audible feedback would help alert me to my error (although the core of this problem is that iOS’s auto-correction does not seem to take this error into account at all).

I wonder whether it would also be helpful to have audible feedback when releasing after a hold-press. For example, when typing characters with diacritical marks or accessing the secondary keyboard as a quasimode (hold and slide on the .?123 key).

Microsoft is on the ball here: Windows Phone 7 uses eight different keyboard click sounds. (See this short piece and video extract on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.) This seems to be a more sophisticated system than what I have suggested here, and I’d be fascinated to know how well it works.