RAMA M60-A SEQ2 Updates →

September 6, 2019 · 16:37

RAMA WORKS:

All M60-A SEQ2 units have been machined. They are now off to be enamel filled on the back-weight and then packaged – this will take around 2 weeks. They will then be freighted to our warehouse for final packaging, packing and shipment!

I have a Moon Stealth pre-ordered. I’m actually more excited about this keyboard than the new iPhones!


iPadOS 13 (beta 5) — My Gripes and Comments When Using An External Keyboard

August 2, 2019 · 12:13

I have tried using an external keyboard with an iPad since 2010 and while it is possible, it’s nowhere near as good as on MacOS. I have tried various keyboards over the years, including Apple Wireless Keyboards, Magic Keyboards, third-party keyboards, but I am currently using a mechanical Doro67, which is fully user-programmable, connected via USB-C.

Below are some immediate gripes and comments I have regarding external keyboard implementation in the current beta of iPadOS 13:

  • Sometimes, when I Cmd + Tab into an app, e.g. into Ulysses from Safari, I can immediately continue writing where I left off. The keyboard is active and the cursor is waiting for input. At other times it is not. There is no key that I can press to resume writing without first physically touching the screen with my finger.
  • When Cmd + Tabbing into Safari, sometimes everything works as intended and I can use the Cmd + L shortcut to input the address I want to open or Control + Tab to the Tab I need. I can then use the arrows, PgUp, PgDn or Spacebar keys to navigate webpages. Unfortunately, sometimes iPadOS and/or Safari behave as if there is no keyboard connected and I have to touch the screen to make it active again.
  • Sometimes the keyboard just behaves like it’s not connected at all and I have to touch the screen to get it to work.
  • When switching between apps, there is a small delay, which I need to wait out before I can start typing. This delay is extremely frustrating.
  • Sometimes iOS/iPadOS thinks the Cmd key is stuck, especially after quickly Cmd + Tabbing through your list of previously used apps.
  • When using the Alt/Option + Shift + Left/Right Arrow to select text in e.g. Ulysses, the selection stops at the end of a word, omitting the space and/or punctuation marks after the word. When doing the same thing in Safari (editing text in WordPress), the word and the space behind it are selected. If there’s a comma or full stop after a word, and then a space, those get selected automatically too. This is inconsistent and Safari’s implementation is wrong. Perhaps this has something to do with WordPress and is not Safari’s fault but I don’t know that.
  • The above problem also happens when moving the cursor when editing text. E.g. Cmd + right arrow will move the cursor to the end of the word in Ulysses (correct) or to the beginning of the next word in Safari (wrong).
  • Ulysses has a typewriter mode, which often loses my set position. iA Writer has the exact same problem. I hope it’s not something the developers of those apps can’t fix.
  • My PgUp and PgDn keys often don’t work, e.g. in text editors such as Ulysses. Fn + Arrows don’t work either. Curiously, Safari is fine.
  • It is (mostly) possible to use both MacOS and Windows without taking your hands off the keyboard. There’s basically a way to do almost everything without using a mouse or trackpad. I have been a keyboard-shortcut user for the past three decades, since the DOS days, just because it’s faster. iOS is woefully behind in this regard.
  • I use the character picker almost constantly on MacOS (Control + Cmd + Space, to add arrows, etc. when needed. There is no way (that I know of) to do this under iOS/iPadOS (the emoji keyboard doesn’t have all of the symbols that I use, e.g. the arrow I used below).
  • If you use an external keyboard with your iPad, please make sure to go into Settings → Keyboard → Hardware Keyboard to turn auto-capitalisation and auto-correction on or off (off in my case).
  • If you use more than one keyboard language in iPadOS, you can use the Control + Space shortcut to switch between your languages — just hold Control and tap the Spacebar to cycle between them.

Keyboard support has been getting better over the years but it’s getting there at a glacial pace and is still far behind MacOS. I really hope they focus more on it in the future, perhaps even before iPadOS 13.0 rolls out this Autumn.

Photo: 11-inch iPad Pro with a Vortex Race 3.


Mechanical Keyboards, Apple Keyboards, GMK Phosphorous — A Brief History of My Keyboard Hobby

June 7, 2019 · 10:17

Ever since I got my 2016 MacBook Pro, I have had a love/hate relationship with its keyboard. Yes, it’s pretty good to type on. No, it doesn’t offer much feedback and the travel is extremely shallow. There was the one (well, two actually) with the Touch Bar, which I got rid of because of its mediocre battery life and being unable to live with Apple’s latest “innovation”. Then I had to have one on my MacBook Pro Escape replaced.

Continue reading →


MacBook Pro Arrow Ket Layout Scandal →

April 4, 2019 · 22:33

Todd Thomas:

The real scandal with the new MacBook Pros is the layout of the arrow keys. Ugh.

I don’t know when I bought my first Apple Magic Keyboard but it’s been at least 3 years and I still haven’t gotten used to that damned layout, making mistakes almost every single time I reach for them. I did finally fix the issue though, by getting a mechanical keyboard. So. Much. Better.


The MacBook Keyboard Fiasco Is Surely Worse Than Apple Thinks →

April 2, 2019 · 13:25

David Heinemeier Hansson, on Signal v. Noise:

Apple keep insisting that only a “small number of customers have problems” with the MacBook keyboards. That’s bollocks. This is a huge issue, it’s getting worse not better, and Apple is missing the forest for the trees.

The fact is that many people simply do not contact Apple when their MacBook keyboards fail. They just live with an S key that stutters or a spacebar that intermittently gives double. Or they just start using an external keyboard. Apple never sees these cases, so it never counts in their statistics.

So here’s some anecdata for Apple. I sampled the people at Basecamp. Out of the 47 people using MacBooks at the company, a staggering 30% are dealing with keyboard issues right now!! And that’s just the people dealing with current keyboard issues. If you include all the people who used to have issues, but went through a repair or replacement process, the number would be even higher.


Appl Still Hasn’t Fixd Its MacBook Kyboad Problm →

March 27, 2019 · 21:21

JoannaStern,forTheWallStreetJournal:

Nop, I havn’t fogottn how to wit. No did my dito go on vacation.

You s, to sha th pain of using an Appl laptop kyboad that’s faild aft fou months, I could only think of on ida: tak all th bokn ltts out of my column. Thn I alizd thatwould mak th whol thing unadabl. So to…

MySpacebarstoppedworkingtheotherday.


Vortex Race 3 — A Mechanical Keyboard for My iPad Pro

January 28, 2019 · 10:13

My Vortex Race 3 arrived while we were away on our vacation, so naturally I spent most of last night playing around with it, instead of sleeping like any sane person would. I’ve already preprogrammed the first layer and it seems to suit my needs perfectly, connected to both the iPad and Mac.

I’m very excited to go back to a mechanical keyboard, especially since I’m frustrated with the one in my MacBook Pro.

Rainbow backlight turned on only for the purpose of taking the photo — I don’t actually use it.


MacBook Pro Keyboard Popping Sounds →

January 19, 2019 · 12:20

Steven Peterson:

Today I picked up a new 15” MacBook Pro, fully loaded. It was very expensive. I was excited to have a faster machine for my development work. I just returned it and got my money back because it kept making random popping noises. Then I saw this.

I really hope we get completely redesigned keyboards this year. My trust in Apple is plummeting downhill at a breakneck speed. This means that no new Mac for me for at least two more years, until I’m sure the new ones work properly.


AEK II Inspired XDA Oblique Keycaps for Mechanical Keyboards →

January 10, 2019 · 13:12

XDA Oblique is a keyset inspired by the keycaps of the AEK, M0116, AEKII, and similar Apple keyboards. The font used in this keyset is Oswald Light and is angled at 18°. This is a very close to Univers 57 Condensed Oblique, the font used on the AEK. The caps will be color matched to Pantone Cool Grey 2 U, which is very close to Apple’s original tone.

I am completely smitten with this design. They are unfortunately already sold-out. I included some samples below but there are more over on Dixie Mech’s site (just click the link in the title of this post).


Keychron K1 — A Low Profile Mechanical Keyboard for Mac (Or Windows) →

January 7, 2019 · 14:56

I was just about to go ahead and order the Vortex Race 3 when a link to the Keychron K1 flew past me on Twitter, and now I have no idea what to do.

I like low profile keyboards. I like Bluetooth. The Race 3 has neither of those attributes. But it has Cherry MX switches instead of these “blue” switches of unknown origin. The K1 does however feature a full complement of Mac-specific function keys.

Should I just order both?


Apple’s Current MacBook Pro Keyboards Are Badly Designed →

December 29, 2018 · 10:49

Marco Arment:

After a week of unexpected Overcast work on vacation, I have as much of a love-hate relationship with my 2018 13″ MBP as ever. I’m so glad I have it. I’m so glad it’s as fast and capable as it is. Still HATE the keyboard. Still make tons of errors due to the spacing and layout.

It’s not the butterfly switches, though they’re still unpleasant, ungraceful, unreliable, and a huge unforced error.

It’s the damn layout. There’s not enough space between the keys. There’s not enough curvature on the keycaps. There’s no inverted-T arrow keys. It’s a bad design.

I know this is beating a dead horse, but time doesn’t solve bad designs.

It was a bad design in 2015, it was a horrible decision to make it the only choice in 2016, and it continues to be a horrendous keyboard in 2018.

I’ll move on when Apple does.

I loved the keyboards on the 2008 MacBook Pros and I was surprised when I found that the ones on my 2013 MacBook Air and 2014 MacBook Pro are even better. I have to agree that the most recent iteration is worse and my biggest complaint is the layout of the arrow keys. I have been typing on this keyboard for over two years now and I still make mistakes when trying to press the arrows without looking at them. Turns out that the empty space above the left and right arrows was really important.


Hands on With the Brydge 12.9 Pro Keyboard →

December 29, 2018 · 10:38

Jason Snell, on Six Colours:

iPads with new shapes usually require new accessories. While I’ve been writing on my new iPad Pro with Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of a new version of my go-to travel keyboard for iPad, from Brydge. It’s a Bluetooth keyboard that’s designed like the bottom half of a laptop, with a couple of clips into which you slide the iPad Pro.

While the new $170 Brydge 12.9 Pro keyboard isn’t yet shipping, the company sent me a prototype to use for a week. It’s going to be hard to send it back and wait for the final version to ship in early spring. It’s the same great laptop-style experience, in a new smaller design that’s shaped like the new iPad Pro itself.

I only wish either iOS or Brydge offered a way to remap keys. Otherwise, while larger than the Smart Keyboard Folio from Apple, this seems like a much better product and something Apple should have made. Though looking at their current pricing policies, I’m glad they didn’t, because it would probably cost $399.


Jason Snell About His Keyboard — The Vortex Race 3 →

December 28, 2018 · 12:00

Jason Snell, on Six Colours:

[…] I’ve tried a lot of keyboards over the last few years, but I realized that I haven’t yet described my current choice for writing when I’m at my desk. It’s the Vortex Race 3. (The switches are my preferred Cherry Brown style, but other keyswitches are also available.)

This is the rare mechanical keyboard that’s civilized to come with a set of alternate keycaps for Mac users (Command and Option rather than Win and Alt), as well as a few variant color keycaps for modifier keys and the arrow keys. (It’s also got a Mac keyboard mode, so all the keys work properly without any remapping required.) The keycaps feature very pleasant capital letters dead center, and come in shades of gray. I’ve swapped in a red Esc key, yellow arrow keys, and a blue Enter key.

The Race 3 is a “75% keyboard”, which means it doesn’t have a number pad, but it does have dedicated arrow keys and a function-key row. […] It’s got an anodized aluminum base that doesn’t wrap around the bottom of the keys, so they “float” above the board. It’s a nice effect and sure makes it easy to extract crumbs and other detritus from the keyboard from time to time.

This is the keyboard I would love to buy but I can’t get over the fact that it doesn’t have Bluetooth. I’d love to be able to carry it around to use with my iPad Pro without the hassle of having to connect it with a cable.


The Space Bar on My MacBook Pro Doesn’t Register Presses Properly

November 19, 2018 · 09:54

I recently had a problem with my Control key which I finally fixed by taking out the vacuum cleaner and sucking substantial debris1 out from under it. Today, the Space bar will not register keystrokes on its right half.

(A few minutes later.)

Seems to be working fine again, after thoroughly vacuuming it at max power.

I am not happy with this keyboard and I refuse to buy another MacBook until they fix this issue with a completely new design — silicon condoms membranes are not enough.

  1. A speck of dust.

My Replaced MacBook Pro’s Keyboard Is Having Issues Again

September 28, 2018 · 12:24

I had my 2016 MacBook Pro Escape’s keyboard replaced in April 2018, because some of the keys were expanding under heat, making them “sticky”, e.g. when using it in the sun.

I’m extremely happy to report that today my Control key has gone on strike and will only work when it feels like it should, which translates to registering maybe one in ten presses.

This keyboard is great to type on, when it works, but it’s generally a disaster.


Two Keyboards at a Bar →

June 27, 2018 · 11:06

Michael Lopp, writing on Rands in Repose:

The bar is full. Two keyboards sit at the bar: APPLE EXTENDED II and MACBOOK PRO. The front door opens, TOUCHBAR looks around, sees the two keyboards at the bar, grins, and heads their direction. Skipping.

APPLE EXTENDED II sits at the bar nursing a Macallan 18. Next to him is MACBOOK PRO who has not taken a sip of his glass of water.

Enter at your own peril. Laughter guaranteed.

via Daring Fireball


2016 MacBook Pro Butterfly Keyboards Failing Twice as Frequently as Older Models →

April 30, 2018 · 23:20

Mike Wuerthele, writing for AppleInsider:

Following anecdotal reports of a keyboard more prone to failure than in previous years, AppleInsider has collected service data for the first year of release of the 2014, 2015, and 2016 MacBook Pros, with an additional slightly shorter data set for the 2017 model year given that it hasn’t been available for a year yet.

Not including any Touch Bar failures, the 2016 MacBook Pro keyboard is failing twice as often in the first year of use as the 2014 or 2015 MacBook Pro models, and the 2017 is better, but not by a lot.

I have had an issue with my 2016 13” MacBook Pro, which is described by Apple as a “popping sound”. I contacted Apple Support and sent them a video, and they immediately set up an appointment with my closest AASP to fix the issue. They fixed it in 24 hours by replacing the whole top case, which includes the keyboard, battery, and speakers. The “popping sound” happens when the keyboard gets too warm and some keys start making a different sound. They also feel marginally stickier when pressed.

The new keyboard feels and sounds different — it’s quieter and a bit stiffer. I’m not sure if this is the same one as in the 2017 model, but I hope it stays fixed. Since this is a problem with the design and the fix is very expensive, I expect Apple to support their users indefinitely (or at least 5-6 years) — we already paid a lot for the MacBook Pro and we should not pay more for design mistakes.

Despite this being a frustrating issue, Apple Support and my AASP were stellar in helping me out.


Rama Works M60-A Keyboard →

April 30, 2018 · 10:25

The M60-A represents the benchmark and equilibrium between function and design for us at Rama Works. The gently exaggerated design of the frame is not understated, but rather provocative. Inspiration and evolution from previous models are evident in the beautifully articulated design and the well defined aesthetic, the fingerprint of our ‘Industrial Modern’ designs. The M60-A offers a unique contender in the traditional 60% form factor.

The attention to detail in this design is quite amazing. If not for its considerable height and lack of arrow keys, I would be ordering it right now.


Jason Snell on His iPad Setup →

April 20, 2018 · 10:59

Jason Snell, on Six Colours:

A reader on Twitter suggested I buy this iPad stand on Amazon, and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s surprisingly sturdy. The base that approximates the foot of an iMac is metal, not plastic. A hinge lets me pivot the iPad up and down and likewise doesn’t feel cheap. And the clip mechanism—the stand comes with clips for large and small iPads—is strong enough to hold my iPad without any worry of it sliding out. Best of all, the thing rotates, so I can use my iPad in portrait (for more words on the screen) or landscape (for use with Split View) as I see fit […]

I found what I think is the exact same model of stand that Jason is using, but available on Amazon.de in Europe — it’s under a different name though. I will be ordering this stand later today and hope it’s not a cheap knock-off.

[…] I replaced the Mini Tactile Pro with the Matias Laptop Pro, a Bluetooth mechanical keyboard with a silver-and-black style that fits in pretty well with my iPad and its stand. Until I find something better—let’s face it, I appear to be collecting mechanical keyboards—this is my preferred writing environment when I’m away from my desk. At least until my kids come home from school, at which point I have to go back into my office and close the door.

I’ve been tempted to buy a mechanical keyboard for my Hackintosh for a number of years now, but the WASD V2 that I want, with custom keys, is a bit too expensive to ship to Europe from USA. It doesn’t have Bluetooth either, so I couldn’t use it with my iPad Pro. Jason has tempted me to get the Matias, but it’s over 150 GBP to have it shipped to Poland from the UK — I’ll leave it on my wish list for now and continue using my Apple Wireless Keyboard in the meantime.


Dell’s ‘Maglev’ Keyboard →

January 10, 2018 · 16:05

Jacob Kastrenakes, writing for The Verge:

Among the most interesting quirks is the laptop’s keyboard: though it looks and feels just like typical Dell keyboard, it’s built using a brand-new mechanism that relies on magnets. The keys are still physically held in place at their corners, but there are now magnets beneath them to provide feedback. By controlling the strength of their repulsion, Dell can create a deeper, clickier feeling for the keys than their 0.7mm travel would normally allow.

The new “maglev” keyboard felt perfectly normal, at least during my brief use of it. I wouldn’t say it’s among the best keyboards I’ve ever typed on, but I didn’t feel any issues related to key travel, either.

This sounds like something Apple should have implemented instead of their new failure-prone butterfly switches. I am however curious how much vertical space this ‘Maglev’ implementation takes up, in comparison to the latter.


The Butterfly Effect (On The New MacBooks & MacBook Pros) →

October 18, 2017 · 09:17

Casey Johnston:

Perhaps it’s true that less dirt gets under butterfly switched-keys. But therein lies the problem — when dirt does get in, it cannot get out. A piece of dust is capable of rendering a butterfly switch nonfunctional. The key won’t click, and it won’t register whatever command it’s supposed to be typing. It’s effectively dead until someone can either shake loose the debris trapped under it or blow at the upside-down keyboard Nintendo-cartridge style. Meanwhile, Apple quietly put up a page with instructions expressly to try and help people with dead butterfly switch keys.

The problem with dead keys is that, unless you can stop what you’re doing mid-paper or report or email or game and have a physical tiff with your computer, the temptation to just slam a little harder on those delicate keys to get the N or B or period you need until you reach a stopping place is high. But there is no logical at-home remedy for the consumer; when one key on a butterfly switched-keyboard becomes nonfunctional, unless you can dislodge whatever dust or crumb is messing it up without being able to physically access it, the keyboard is effectively broken. If you remove the key to try and clean under it, you stand a high chance of breaking it permanently, but if you leave it there and continue to have to pound the key to type one measly letter, you also might break it permanently. A single piece of dust can literally fuck you over.

My 2016 MacBook Pro Escape keys like to get sticky when I’m hammering away at the keyboard in the sun, probably due to the key caps expanding from the heat.

This is bad design.


“Full Size” Keyboard on 10.5″ iPad Pro →

June 12, 2017 · 13:19

Dieter Bohn:

I was all set to complain that increasing the size from 9.7 to 10.5 was not a big enough jump to justify requiring people to buy new keyboards and accessories. Then I started typing on the on-screen keyboard and on the new hardware Smart Keyboard. Even though I’m dubious about Apple’s claim that the software keyboard is “full size,” I find the slight size increase makes touch typing much easier. It’s still a little cramped, but it’s much easier to bounce between this and a real keyboard now.

I currently switch between a Magic Keyboard, a MacBook Pro (late 2016), and the 12.9″ iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard. I don’t have any major issues doing so. The curious thing is that since getting the MacBook Pro, I now find the Magic Keyboard’s key travel to be too long — I actually prefer the shorter throw now.

I have the new 10.5″ iPad Pro on order — it will replace my 12.9″ — but I’m still hesitating about getting the Smart Keyboard for it. I just don’t like cramped ones…


John Siracusa on Apple’s Butterfly Mechanism Keyboards →

May 26, 2017 · 14:11

John Siracusa on ATP.fm (episode 223):

I do not like thinking about these keyboards. Almost makes me long for a non-moving iPhone 7 home button style keyboard where nothing actually moves.

Looking at the iPhone, Apple steadily worked over the years to eliminate the physical Home button, waiting until all the pieces were in place (Taptic Engine) to finally do it. I’m a fan. But a whole physical keyboard?

I have been using the MacBook Pro Escape since it premiered and while the keyboard is mostly fine, I do share Marco Arment’s thoughts in regard to its reliability — heat (using it in the sun) is definitely an issue. While the keyboards in the previous models were perhaps more flimsy and mushy, they didn’t have any reliability issues (that I know of). Nothing widespread at least…

This is what Apple has to say about the butterfly mechanism on their MacBook page:

Traditional keyboards use a scissor mechanism, which tends to wobble around the edges. This creates a lack of precision when you strike anywhere except the center of the key. We needed to reduce key wobbling for a keyboard this thin; otherwise, striking a key off-center could result in the keycap hitting bottom before a keystroke registers. So we designed a unique butterfly mechanism, which is wider than the scissor mechanism and has a single assembly made from a stiffer material — allowing for a more stable, responsive key that takes up less vertical space. This innovative design improves stability, uniformity, and control — no matter where you press on the key.

They say less on the late 2016 MacBook Pro page:

The keyboard has been redesigned to include our new, second-generation butterfly mechanism — meticulously refined for greater comfort and responsiveness.

While I do like the feel of the new keyboard, it does have a design flaw — heat causes the keys to stick or clack even louder than normal when pressed. The following steps are what I imagine Apple’s thought process for eliminating the problem could be.

  1. Eliminate reliable but mushy keyboard — replace with butterfly mechanism series “because thinness.”
  2. Find no solution to sticky keys over next few years. Lose a lot of money on replacements and warranty repairs.
  3. “Hey guys! We solved this problem already, in the iPhone!”
  4. Add improved Taptic Engine. Replace current keyboard with a new one, with unmoveable keys.
  5. Profit?

The next step will surely be just a glass surface with keys displayed on it, right?

P.S. I truly hope none of the above comes about in my lifetime — I’m worried that it will, sooner than we expect it too though. Keep your eyes peeled when watching The Fate of the Furious / Fast & Furious 8 and you’ll know what I mean.


Microsoft Buys SwiftKey for $250 Million →

February 3, 2016 · 09:29

Tim Bradshaw and Murad Ahmed for the Financial Times:

Microsoft is paying about $250m to acquire London-based Swiftkey, maker of a predictive keyboard powered by artificial intelligence that is installed on hundreds of millions of smartphones, according to people familiar with the deal.

Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock, who founded the company in 2008 when both were in their 20s, will each make upwards of $30m from the buyout, which is set to be announced this week.

I have been a SwiftKey user on Android for many years and while the keyboard layout has its own issues, it has one absolutely genius function: the ability to choose two primary languages. This means that the keyboard will auto discover which one we are currently typing in and autocorrect as necessary — there is no need to change the language at all.

I really hope Apple adds this feature to iOS soon — I really miss it, switching between keyboards dozens of times per day. I’m not alone — Federico Viticci also sees this as a problem. The thing is… the technology to overcome this already exists. Please Apple, add it to your to-do list.


Microsoft Is Bringing Its Windows Phone Keyboard to iOS →

January 16, 2016 · 12:53

Tom Warren:

One of my favorite features in Windows Phone is its truly excellent keyboard. It’s far more accurate and easy to use than the default iOS keyboard and many Android alternatives, but you’ve had to use Windows Phone to take advantage of it so far. Microsoft is planning to make its Word Flow keyboard available on other platforms, starting with iOS.

The problem with iOS third-party keyboards is that they mostly suck due to the system’s restrictions. And they’re usually even worse for foreign languages.