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iPhone OS: Where the Delete Key Belongs

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After almost three years of obsessive iPhone typing, we have grown accustomed to its keyboard. When the iPad was released, things changed.

After a week of testing the iPad it became clear that the iPad has the Delete key in the correct place and the iPhone doesn’t. In fact, the iPad’s placement feels so natural that now when I try to type text messages on the iPhone, I constantly accidentally send texts early while attempting to delete a character. The iPhone is the only device in my routine that has a confusing Delete key location. Check out the screenshots below to see what I mean.

What do you think? Has your experience been similar?


Wireless keyboard


34 Responses to “iPhone OS: Where the Delete Key Belongs”

  1. OK, this is my biggest peeve about the iphone! And please note, it was MOVED there. It used to be where it is on the ipad. Now my messages and emails on the
    look a lot
    like this because
    i delete
    i hit return
    instead so I don’t bother to
    delete the return because I get so angry
    about the new placement
    of the delete key.

    I absolutely HATE where the delete key is on the iphone. I’ve had an iphone since their inception have have been an apple user always. So, this combined with the new iphoto pains, I’m going nuts and am about to finally write a complaint to “sj” – i just haven’t
    my email
    on my iphone
    because the
    delete key
    placement makes my wrists hurt
    now because it hurts to delete.
    that is true.


  2. Sorry to be late to this game but I have this frustration and chalk it up to something else entirely.

    The delete key should be left of the Z, a much less commonly typed letter than M. If you have regular sized fingers every time you hit M you also hit the delete key. I’m a chick and have rather small fingers, but I am constantly having to fix words with an accidentally deleted M because the delete key is on the wrong side of the keyboard.

  3. Please please remove the send button from right next to the keypad as I keep hitting send by accident.
    Come on Apple….. Who do you get to test the phones for you….. Amateurs?

  4. Biped

    Agree – just got an iPhone and have sent lots of SMS that were incomplete with spelling errors or subsituted words that I wanted to delete and hit send instead.

    Doesn’t happen on emails as teh send button is up the top right. Is there any app that asks you to confirm that you want to send the message after you hit the send button to prevent accidental sends?

  5. I’m gonna agree that, given the space constraints, it’s in the least-bad place. BeeJive has the send key where the return is in the iPhone picture above, and after a lot of use, i still frequently hit ‘send’ when i want to delete. The lesson being: having delete and send near each other is a bad idea. Less bad for a real-time communication like IM than for email, but still a problem.

    But, really, until they stop crippling my typing by forcing me to type on an unfamiliar qwerty keyboard (instead of Dvorak), the little hiccup of dealing with an awkwardly-placed delete key is a non-issue.I mean, really, OS X has Dvorak built in, the iPhone OS has multi-keyboard support–how hard can it be to enable a Dvorak keyboard?

  6. The delete key on the iphone? Is this really worth an article? Or is it best left to some teenager on an apple user forum?

    Maybe you folks should do some real journalism instead of just churning out free ads for apple. That’s the only way your industry is going to make any money.

  7. Andy Fuchs

    Hm… until today I didn’t even realize there’s a delete key on the iPhone ;-)
    Seriously: the iPhone-keyboard ALWAYS requires my attention while typing and typing is slow anyway. So there’s plenty of time to re-verify the character typed.

    On the iPad I type completely differently. More like on a ‘real’ keyboard and this not comparable to my typing on the iPhone. On the iPad I try to type with as much fingers as possible, while on the iPhone I used max. two fingers. So for me the situation is completely different and I can’t see how one could send a message accidentally, because hitting the RETURN key while writing a message just adds a line-break, doesn’t it?

  8. Yup – I’ve known this ever since I got my iPhone 2+ years ago – I was forever sending texts when I wanted to delete something. If it’s changed then there’s a whole lotta learning to do all over again!

  9. Interesting point, but if you look at the iPhone keyboard (or any keyboard) for longer than 30 seconds, you realize there are 10 keys on the top row, 9 on the second, and 7 on the bottom row. If you were designing a keyboard for a mobile phone, trying to make the keys as large as possible to make it easier for users to type, where would you put the delete key? Top row? Really?!?

    I’m defending Apple on this one. True, iPad has it in the “right spot” but it also has way more screen real estate. I think a lot more people would have fussed if Apple had crammed the delete key on the top row. It would have made the keys too small to type on with much accuracy.

  10. I agree 100%. On my iPad touch I regularly hit the delete key when I meant to hit the return key just below it. I can see the space constraints Apple is under, but I do wish delete were somewhere else. Perhaps holding down the Return key for a second or so could shift it into Delete mode. That freed-up space could then become a comma, the most notable missing key on the current iPhone keyboard.

    Cross-fertilization would also be handy. One iPhone keyboard feature that I love is that a quick double space become a period and space plus the capitalization of the next letter. I’d love to see that become an option on OS X apps.

    Anyone at The Apple Blog looking for products to review? I suggest the various compact, fold-up, and thumb-typing Bluetooth keyboards. With the arrival of OS 4.0, every Apple mobile gadget but the very oldest will work with them.

  11. And you yourself designed and coded which Operating System?

    I’ve got a mate just like you picky picky picky oh iPhone doesn’t have replaceable battery, iPhone doesn’t have a SD card slot etc etc…

    So one night I sat him down with pen and paper and got him to design his perfect phone, then when that was done he had to design the UI for the OS, sometime later we priced it and he shit his pants, now add in to the face that Apple have given us an OS that we can flash so drop Steve a line and perhaps your request will get coded FOR YOU… I do hope I’m making a valid point here…

    • Dougal

      That’s exactly what’s needed. I send texts too early because of the send key location. It now slows me down as I have to concentrate on avoiding it when typing an ‘o’ or a ‘p’.

  12. Slow news today huh? ;-)

    I don’t have a similar experience. Far from it. In fact, it has never been a problem. I agree with what JONBO said that cramming the delete key where you think makes sense and maintaining a functional QWERTY keyboard would have been impossible.

    Here’s a homework for ya: I presume you got Photoshop or some image editing software? How would you design the iPhone keyboard, then?

  13. Actually,

    Its placed in a very consistent manner in all 3 layouts — directly above the Return key…

    So, unless you want to start complaining about the Return key, leave the Delete/Backspace key out of it.

  14. Howie Isaacks

    You’re just now getting around to complaining about this? I agree that the placement of the delete key is a problem. I’ve also accidentally sent texts in mid-sentence. Gradually, over time, I learned not do do that. Maybe this will change in iPhone 4.0. Honestly though, it’s not that big of a deal.

  15. Clelliott

    Looks like a straight forward product marketing decision. Squeeze down the top row of keys to fit the screen or move the delete key to get more room. Life is a series of tradeoffs and this looks like a good one.

  16. I think the iPhone needs the delete key exactly where it’s at. If it was next to the “P” key, then you really would accidently send a lot of texts because it would be right next to the send button.

  17. “After almost four years of obsessive iPhone typing…”

    Unless you worked for Gizmodo in 2006 I don’t think you’ve been typing on an iPhone for nearly 4 years since iPhone has only been on the market for just shy of 3 years at this point.

  18. I agree its placement is awkward, but I think the reason it is where it is at is for the precise reason why you keep accidentally sending your unfinished texts. There is not enough room in the top row for an extra button; it would be too close to the send button–which maybe they should move as well. Maybe backspace where “Send” currently is; “send” where the pic option is or at the top.

  19. I agree. The Send and Delete keys should have been switched from the start. I’ve sent a lot of incomplete and incorrect messages because my fingers expect the delete key to be in the upper right.

  20. The reason they did this is because people would constantly be pressing the “send” key on accident. It even happens to me when trying to press the “O” or “P” lol.

    • Also, trying to cram the delete key up there, while maintaing a functional QWERTY format would probably be impossible. There’s 10 letters in the top row, 9 in the middle, and 7 on the bottom.

  21. I agree I keep having all these excess “p”s everywhere because of this. It is also in this location in the Facebook app for iPad since there isn’t an iPad app yet. Lots of excess ps in my facebook comments.