iOS 11 provides a new flickable keyboard that makes it easier to type faster on your iPad.

This feature, called Key Flicks, provides quick access to double the number of keys on the onscreen keyboard without charging the size of the individual keys, allowing you to type in special characters without having to press the Shift key or switch to the symbols keyboard.

TIP: switching between lowercase and UPPERCASE keyboard on iPhone and iPad

You may have noticed that iOS 11 has tweaked the QuickType keyboard layout on iPad. The apostrophe key has moved and so have other characters, such as the square brackets and other symbols that were previously more accessible (i.e. “{”, “}”, “<”, “>” and “/”). 

Basically, iOS 11 divorces punctuation from the Shift key and moves it elsewhere.

Perhaps most notably, iOS 11 displays both the primary letter/number and the special character, rendered in gray, for each individual key. Previously, only the symbol keys and those with colons, slashes, periods and commas had two legends printed on them.

KeyFlicks makes accessing these grayed-out symbols a lot easier.

Key Flicks is available only on iPad models running iOS 11. This feature does not work on iPhone and iPad touch and is unavailable when using a third-party iPad keyboard.

Here’s how to use this flickable keyboard on your iPad.

How to enable Key Flicks

Key Flicks is on by default, but it doesn’t hurt verifying that it’s enabled in Settings.

1) Open the Settings app on your iPad.

2) Tap General → Keyboard.

3) Slide the button labeled Enable Key Flicks to the ON position.

Now you can type faster with Key Flicks in any app using the QuickType keyboard.

To disable the Key Flicks feature, simply toggle off Enable Key Flicks in your keyboard settings, which will remove all secondary characters from each key. I suggest you leave Key Flicks turned on and give it a try for a few days first, especially if you tend to mix a lot of numbers and special symbols into your text.

How to use Key Flicks typing feature on iPad

You can type with Key Flicks in any app that accepts text input. As I mentioned before, this iPad-only feature requires iOS 11 or later. It also doesn’t work with third-party keyboards.

Just pull a key downwards to quickly enter enter the special character from the top of a key. The primary and secondary character will revert positions (this is nicely animated) when you do a flick, and the secondary symbol will be entered instead.

Tap a key to enter the printed letter/number or use a flick to type a grayed-out symbol.

For example, if you’re typing out someone’s email address you would insert the “@” symbol by putting your finger on the “A” key and flicking down.

As always, you can also access numbers, punctuation symbols and other special characters by tapping the “123” key. However, Key Flicks saves you from this while also providing quick access to iOS’s lesser/used symbols tucked under the symbols keyboard.

Just tap the “123” key to switch to the symbols keyboard, then flick down on a key to enter a grayed-out symbol. Don’t forget that you can also hold down the Shift key (labeled “#+=” when using the symbolic keyboard) to reveal an additional set of special characters.

The symbols keyboard works well with the Key Flicks feature.

Finally, some of the keys may include hidden accent marks, Cyrillic symbols or other country-specific characters. To access them, tap and hold a key then slide your finger to a desired character in the popup menu and let go.

The old keyboard tricks still work.

To try this out, hold down the “N” key on the US English keyboard.

If you hate iOS 11’s new keyboard layout, try out the excellent PadKeysKeyboard app that takes full advantage of the iPad form factor by putting the numbers, punctuation and cursor keys right where you expect them, no hunting through Apple’s “creative” key arrangements.

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