More fluid on-screen typing

This iPad Mini case has keyboard buttons that rise on demand

Although most of us have been using software keyboards to type on phones and tablets for the past few years, there’s something to be said for physical buttons. Just ask a BlackBerry phone user and they’ll explain how fast they can bang out messages. Now, after several years in development, a case can add tactile button guides on command to your iOS device that aren’t quite like physical keys but could be helpful for more accurate typing.

phorm side

It’s called Phorm and if it sounds familiar, that’s because we first heard of this product from Tactus back in 2012. And starting Thursday, you can pre-order a Phorm case for your [company]Apple[/company] iPad Mini that adds real, physical keyboard touch guides on demand. The company also has a wait list for iPhone 6 Plus users who might want a case.

The secret to Phorm is in microfluidics. Underneath the case’s keyboard area are clear fluids that can be moved around thanks to a slider on the back of the case. Slide that magic lever — no batteries needed — and the fluids inside the keyboard membrane rise up and pool together in small bubbles positioned near your software keyboard characters. The end result? An actual tactile feel to the keys when you need it, gone when you don’t.

Phorm will eventually sell the iPhone Mini case for $149 in either Slate Gray or Sky Gray colors, but the pre-order price is $99. The company hasn’t yet said how much its case for the iPhone 6 Plus will cost. It expects to ship the first Phorm iPad Mini keyboard cases this summer.

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