Developer Steve Troughton-Smith has uncovered a one-handed keyboard code by hacking the iOS Simulator, also discovering that the code for the feature has “been there since at least iOS 8.” The one-handed keyboard mode works by letting users left-swipe or right-swipe from the edges of the iOS keyboard to pull the keys towards their dominant hand, making it easier to type with just one hand.

Taking up the extra space on the side of the keyboard are designated cut, copy, and paste controls, with the rest of the keyboard’s buttons gaining a smaller width to accommodate the one-handed mode. Discovered to be dormant since iOS 8, without an official beta or public launch, the feature’s original code ties into the launch of Apple’s size-bumped 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.

one-handed-ios-keyboard


It appears that the company was working on ways to help users type on the new, bigger iPhones, but it remains unclear why the one-handed keyboard never made it to an official release on iOS. In lieu of the mode, Apple introduced “Reachability” for iPhone 6 Plus users, which lets them double-tap on the Home button (without impressing it) to pull down the entire screen and reach pieces of the UI otherwise out of the reach of their thumb.

Troughton-Smith noted in a few tweets that the keyboard could potentially be hacked on an actual iPhone like he did with the iOS Simulator, but the device would need to be jailbroken to do so. The developer gave some context regarding the code of such a jailbreak tweak, as well as a video of the one-handed keyboard in action.

Reachability is an answer to vertical problems when using the Plus-sized iPhones with one hand, but it leaves horizontal, one-handed typing issues unsolved in iOS keyboards. Apple could debut the one-handed keyboard in a future version of iOS, potentially next year’s iOS 11, but since the code for the feature has remained dormant for so long already, it’s impossible to tell.

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