A one-handed iPhone keyboard that makes it easier to type on larger displays has been found hidden in iOS code. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith was first to uncover the unused feature, which can be activated in the iOS Simulator — as shown in the video below.
It’s thought the keyboard was first added by Apple with iOS 8, which made its debut in 2014 — the same year the company introduced its larger iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. However, it is yet to be activated, so you can’t access it in beta or public releases.
The feature is there, though, and Troughton-Smith was able to access it in the iOS Simulator for Mac. It is summoned by performing a swipe from the edge of the display while the keyboard is onscreen, and it shifts the keys to one side of the screen.
Which side they move to depends on whether you swipe from the left or the right. Once one-handed mode is activated, it is easier to type using just one thumb when you only have one hand free because you don’t have to stretch so far to reach all the keys.
As you’ll see in the video below from Troughton-Smith, the space made up by shifting the keyboard to one side is filled with handy shortcuts for cut, copy, and paste.
Video or it didn't happen: (very hard to engage in the Simulator with a mouse cursor) pic.twitter.com/vw2wpCgiLJ
— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) October 19, 2016
Apple added Reachability to make its larger iPhones easier to use with one hand, but this feature simply shifts things down the screen; it does not affect the typing experience. It’s unclear why the one-handed keyboard has been left unused for over two years.
But given the fact that Apple has ignored it for this long, and that we’ve all lived happily without it, it seems unlikely it will ever make its way into a public version of iOS. But you never know what the Cupertino company has up its sleeve for future updates.