BeeKeyboard: customizable Bluetooth keyboard shortcuts are finally coming to iOS

By , Jun 14, 2012

Although I’ve entertained the idea of using my iPad as a laptop replacement on and off during my tenure with the device, I always end up reneging on the thought. One of the primary reasons for this is the utter lack of keyboard shortcut customization within iOS.

Sure, some apps have minor Bluetooth keyboard interactivity, but those are few and far between. What about the ability to customize a keyboard’s shortcut settings for all apps, and for those that do support a measure of keyboard support, how about even deeper customization?

That’s where BeeKeyboard comes into the picture. It’s an upcoming jailbreak tweak that will allow you to create custom shortcuts and add-ons for specific apps. Finally, the external keyboard just got a lot more powerful on iOS.

The developer of BeeKeyboard also had me download an add-on called BeeSafari. This add-on applies directly to the Safari app, and no other. BeeKeyboard add-ons will allow you to uniquely interact with singular apps using custom keyboard shortcuts. For instance, with BeeSafari, I can now assign shortcuts to open a new tab, close a tab, switch tabs, navigate to search, refresh a page, etc. Pretty much anything you can do on a keyboard with the desktop version of Safari, you can now do with the iPad version courtesy of BeeKeyboard and BeeSafari.

Of course, there’s also an add-on that applies directly to your Home screen, which allows you to move the cursor keys to highlight particular apps, launch apps, switch pages, etc. Global shortcuts are also a big portion of the package, and include such abilities as being able to invoke Notification Center, the App Switcher etc. As you can tell, BeeSafari really lends a whole new level of control to external keyboard users. I can see it being particularly useful when add-ons are created fro writing apps, twitter apps, and more.

But that’s not all. As if those options weren’t enough, there’s the ability to invoke Activator actions via keyboard shortcuts. Now, if you’re at all experience with Activator, you know what this means. It means that you can launch specific apps, and perform specific Activator-only actions using only your keyboard. For instance, if I want to quickly compose a new tweet, all I have to do is configure a keyboard shortcut for the New Tweet Activator action, and off I go. There are so many different actions contained within Activator, that the sky’s the limit as to what you can come up with.

BeeKeyboard is currently still in development, but the developer promises that it should be launching soon. Once available, you’ll be able to find it on Cydia’s BigBoss repo for $2.99. That’s a fair price to pay to gain such functionality. With some additional add-ons and some time invested configuring the tweak, BeeKeyboard will almost be able to control the iPad all by its lonesome. What do you think? Does BeeKeyboard do enough to make you want to dust off your Bluetooth Keyboard? Let us know what you think about it in the comment section below.

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  • Loopthree

    I’d be interested to know how many people use a keyboard with their iPad.

    • ReanimationXP

      i do. i’ll use it more with this.. FINALLY.

      • SimonReidy

        I use mine all the time as its part of my case. This wil finally make it feel like a real keyboard, rather than an old Typewriter! :)

  • mrjr84

    This is absolutely huge! This will make it so much easier for those times when you need to use a keyboard. Really hope it lives up to its promise.

  • http://twitter.com/jdogg84able Jdgg84

    Simply Amazing..

  • http://twitter.com/comtecni Andrew

    What kind of keyboard is that?

    • http://twitter.com/Markhbts Mark ツ

      That would be the Targus AKB32US, I guess.

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      Yep, it’s a Targus. More info here: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2012/04/16/splashtop-ipad-remote-desktop/

  • iXanczy

    Jeff, what’s the name of the iPad mount you’re using?

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      It’s a Just Mobile iPad stand. I actually reviewed it here: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2011/09/25/just-mobile-upstand/

  • http://twitter.com/steve4life8 Vinh Phat Ngo

    can you also zoom in safari using keyboard?

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      Not yet, but hopefully that will be a feature.

      • http://www.facebook.com/chris.rose Chris Rose

        Is there a way set it up so when you hit enter on the keyboard it sends an imesssage?

      • http://twitter.com/Chrissingle Chris single

        Bluetooth keyboard helper

  • billypuntove

    Whoa. This looks great. Great pricing as well. While underpriced, in my opinion, I hope it helps them combat piracy! Cheers to the dev!

  • Anoush Khan

    Wow. That is just awesome. Now if there was a tweak to use a mouse with the iPad that would be great!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1457594844 Matthew Dias

      btstackmouse.

  • seyss

    AttacherPro video man???

  • SimonReidy

    This is more useful to me than any new feature in iOS6! Awesome stuff. Why on Earth can’t Apple show ingenuity like this?

  • http://twitter.com/danielhohler danielhohler

    I want!!! I just got the logitech ultra thin keyboard. this would be perfect.

  • http://twitter.com/mariusbock marius bock

    Jeff, do you know any nice programm for mouse connection?

    • http://twitter.com/DanielLBeck Dan Beck

      BT Stack Mouse

      • The Plothole

        Does that still have the limitation where you have to drag the whole mouse to scroll?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1457594844 Matthew Dias

        yes

  • http://twitter.com/jdogg84able Jdgg84

    Just bought the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard for the iPad ($100) just because of this upcoming tweak. FYI you should do a review of this keyboard.. Definitely a nice keyboard for the iPad.

  • The Plothole

    I assume this tweak also works for wired keyboards hooked up via the camera connection kit?

  • seyss

    Jeff, where are you man? A new promising tweak showed up on Cydia and you havent posted anything in 3 days! :(
    It is called AttacherPro.

  • http://twitter.com/swchoi79 최성웅

    very very good!!!

  • http://twitter.com/sjakubiec Stephen Jakubiec

    So it’s out though apparently it doesn’t work with BTStack Keyboard at least from what I can tell for as soon as I use it the keyboard shortcuts stop working. Kind of need it when you’re also using BTStack Mouse. Anybody else having issues with BTStack Keyboard and BeeKeyboard?

    • http://www.facebook.com/gerald.morgan1 Gerald Morgan

      me to i need to be able to use both with my zagg keyboard

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.rose Chris Rose

    This is awesome but can anyone help me find shortcuts that allow me to simply push enter to send a message in iMessage. You would think that would be the simpliest feature but it doesnt work as is.

    • ShadowEvil

      SendMessage for BeeKeyboard on Cydia

  • http://www.facebook.com/micah.howser.5 Micah Howser

    With beekeyboard and beekeyboard/mouse – a virtual mouse that uses the keyboard to steer the mouse pointer around, you don’t need another mouse, or btstack. After a little tweaking of the keyboard and mouse shortcuts, and a beekeyboard addon that lets you use the command/enter key to send text messages, I’m all set.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patosmack Patricio Alvarez

    hello i purchase this app and when i install it im not able to close session on facebook app (the bubble that shows the close ssession button does nothing) but when i delete beekeyboard, faccebook app works as usual thnx

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcio.sister Marcio Sister

    Hi Jeff, I saw a movie about BeeKeyboard you made. Awsome! As I live in Brazil and we use lots of characters accented (like é, ã, ê), how do I make them with BeeKeyboard? I’m currently using BT StackKeyboard…it’s OK but it’s missing lots of things…arrows do not work, for example. How about those accented characteres? Thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/igor.bujaroski Igor Bujaroski

    Hello Jeff!
    Great review!
    I am only wondering how to create a custom addon…or how to use these shortcuts…( I installed BeeKeyboard and wasn’t able to use any of them :( )

  • http://www.facebook.com/liyatao Yatao Li

    Typing this messaage with BeeKeyboard-enabled bluetooth keyboard now! :-D

  • Ol3gCh4v3z

    Any update where with the In-App mode, you can actually navigate with the “cursor” to the TOP LEFT (back) button to get back up and out of the nested drill-down menu structure? For example, you go into Settings from the Springboard, then you can drill into General, but you cannot escape back up to <SETTINGS at the TOP LEFT!! This is so frustrating!

    Imagine two custom-made BT infotainment pads that can to strap onto a car’s steering wheel so the left hand can activate Hands-Free or Siri, along with multimedia buttons like Skip, Prev, Play/Pause, Mute, and Click; and the right hand can activate a D-Pad cursor to navigate around, a button to start the GPS app, control Volume Up / Down, activate VoiceOver to read Aloud (need to map triple HOME within Activator to a keyboard shortcut command which is also currently missing), and one or two custom launch buttons that can be configured. The infotainment pads are then synced via BT to a iPad Mini (or any iOS/Android tablet / phone) and that is mounted on the dashboard (which most people can install on their own — have to avoid leaving it in the car and attracting unwanted attention for smash & grab like the ol’ Benzi boxes). For all the car manufacturers rolling out iDrive, enTune, iMID, SYNC-TOUCH, etc… the only advantage is being able to turn off regular radio to allow the synched smart phone’s audio to take over the sound system. Regular BT car kits have a FM transmitter which are cheap ($35) or you need to pay Parrot alot more ($200) for the integration and better sound quality. The last optional piece is a portable external wifi HDD (500GB to 1TB Seagate Wireless Plus) so you don’t have to be gouged for mSATA memory within the iPad or iPhone ecosystem to boost your tunes library, gps maps, etc. The car industry needs to standardize! This can work for both iOS and Android. Bring your Own iPad or Kindle/Nook/Nexus or smartphone to the party and have hands-free voice control (Vlingo on Android anyone?), buttons located on the wheel so there is no reaching around, activate GPS, launch the Apps you want to launch with hotkeys (fancier BT car infotainment pad kits will have more buttons).
    One last niggling deficiency is having Activator and BeeKeyboard work together for a Triple Home button press to activate Voice Over since that is only useful when reading emails. The GPS and SMS apps already can read to you.