Thanks to changes that came with iOS 12, you can select text and position the cursor with great precision simply by turning your virtual keyboard into a software trackpad—even if your iPhone lacks 3D Touch.
What is keyboard trackpad mode?
Back in 2015, iOS 9 introduced a cool iPad feature allowing you to slide two fingers across the virtual keyboard in order to move the insertion point or select a chunk of text with precision.
iPhone 6s helped elevate the feature to new heights thanks to its 3D Touch hardware.
And with iOS 12, Apple brought this super-handy precise cursor positioning and text selection to its non-3D Touch smartphones and the iPod touch media player. In other words, iOS 12, and later, lets customers reap the benefits of accurate cursor control afforded by dedicated 3D Touch hardware but on devices that lack 3D Touch.
Using keyboard trackpad mode without 3D Touch
1) Open an app you’d like (suggestion: Notes) and bring up iOS’s virtual keyboard.
2) With iOS’s software keyboard active, tap and hold the Space bar key.
Voilà, your iPhone keyboard is now in trackpad mode with all of the keys greyed out.
You can now do the following:
- Position the cursor—With the Space bar key held down, move the finger around to position the insertion point anywhere within the active text field. Let go of the finger to insert the cursor at the current insertion point.
- Select text—This is very, very cool so make sure to memorize this gesture, especially if your iPhone lacks 3D Touch. First, enter the trackpad mode by holding down the Space bar key on the virtual keyboard. Whilst continuing to hold the key, tap anywhere on the keyboard with another finger to enter text selection mode. Drag the other finger across the keyboard to include more or less text in your selection. Release the finger, then tap the selection to bring up the bubble menu with your Copy and Paste options a tap away.
Would you like to try this tip for yourself, but your device has dedicated 3D Touch hardware?
No problem, simply disable 3D Touch features in Settings.
In addition to supporting non-3D Touch iPhones, the best thing about this particular iOS 12 feature is that it works on your rusty old sixth-generation iPod touch as well.
Please keep in mind that this doesn’t replicate the advanced text-selection features that require dedicated pressure-sensing hardware. On devices with 3D Touch, endless to say, iOS 12 and later continue to support the full range of virtual trackpad features.
These include pressing the keyboard firmly to enter cursor-positioning mode, pressing a little harder to quickly select a word, sentence or paragraph, deleting large chunks of text faster by pressing the Backspace key with 3D Touch and more.
How do you like the keyboard trackpad mode on iPhone?
Chime in with your thoughts in the comments section.
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