Back in the day, one of the preferred features of the iPhone was that you could easily type with one hand. This was because Android phones were getting bigger and bigger in size while the iPhone still had a 3.5-inch display. Even in 2012, it only got a slight bump to four inches with the iPhone 5 but still kept the same width. Now that iPhones have caught up to Android in size, the argument is a lot harder to make that they’re better for one-handed use.
To remedy this issue, software enhancements need to be made and some developers have already stepped up to the plate. The following keyboard apps for iPhone are terrific if you want to be able to type entirely with one hand and in particular, just your thumb. Take a look.
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1. Microsoft Word Flow
Word Flow is a new keyboard app by none other than Microsoft. One if its main features is a one-thumb typing setting. Activate this by swiping down on the right or left side of the keyboard to transform the layout into a wheel format that hugs one side of the screen. This brings the letters farthest away closer to your thumb.
This might seem at first like it would be harder to type on but it really only requires a small adjustment. The result is actually terrific. It’s not surprising that Microsoft has constructed an excellent keyboard app, but it’s also extremely functional for those who want to type just with one hand. Plus it includes your other standard features like emojis and autocorrect suggestions. Tons of themes are available within the app too to change up the look.
Important: Not all keyboard apps inform you of this, but once you install one you have to run through a process to enable it. Go to Settings, then General, Keyboard, then Keyboards. Tap Add New Keyboard… and select the third-party one you want to add. From there, you’ll have to tap that new one once again and turn on Allow Full Access. If this sounds like a ridiculously lengthy process, that’s because it is.
Thumbly is yet another keyboard that moves the keys closer to your thumb except Thumbly really takes it to a whole new level. The keys make an entire quarter circle in Thumbly so while no human should ever have trouble accessing any of the keys, I found that there’s a significant learning curve compared to Word Flow. It will probably take a while to adjust to the new layout.
The good news is Thumbly also has key gestures that Word Flow does not. You can swipe right to left over a row to backspace, or hold your thumb there to keep deleting. Swiping up once puts the keyboard in Shift and swiping up quickly two times turns on Caps Lock. Thumbly has access to emojis too but only a small amount.
If you’re big on gestures, check out Thumbly for $1.99, but Word Flow is a bit easier to type with.
Don’t confuse this with the iOS feature that slides the entire UI down on your screen. Reachability for our purposes is a keyboard app that once again attempts to make typing with one hand easier, though it takes a different approach from Word Flow and Thumbly.
Reachability is as bare bones as a keyboard might get. It shifts the keys over slightly to one side based on which hand you use and… that’s it. The keys do get a little smaller which is good for screen real estate but bad for typing. I didn’t have a particularly hard time typing with Reachability but there’s no autocorrect here and no emojis either. You’ll have to switch to the separate emoji keyboard to use them.
However, if you really aren’t a fan of the wheel design that Word Flow and Thumbly use for one-thumb typing, Reachability’s different and less dramatic approach might win you over. It’s $0.99 for iPhone.