Mystery: The missing iOS7 keyboard

Mystery: The missing iOS7 keyboard

Summary: Apple released iOS7 as an upgrade for qualifying iPhones and iPads yesterday. The crisp redesigned interface includes a clean new keyboard. Problem is it's not in many apps yet, including Apple's.

Mystery missing iOS7 keyboard
Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

While upgrading my iPads to iOS7 I was thrilled to see a clean new onscreen keyboard appear in the setup process. I have long hated the ugly gray keyboard that's been part of iOS forever. The new one is a crisp white keyboard that looks much nicer than the previous model.

Calendar new keyboard

After the iOS7 upgrade finished on my iPad I tested most of the apps that are part of the OS. The nice new keyboard is in those apps, Calendar, Notes, and Reminders among them. 

Third party apps are a different story as the ugly old keyboard is front and center in almost all of them. I tested quite a few and the new keyboard is not to be found in most of them. Apparently, it's up to the individual app to use the new keyboard and few apps have been updated to do so. That's a bit surprising as iOS7 has been available to developers for some time.

Surprisingly, one of the only third party apps using the new keyboard is Google's Chrome browser. Google jumped on getting Chrome updated for the launch of iOS7 and that's pretty cool. Unfortunately Google's Gmail app is still using the ugly old keyboard.

Pages old keyboard
Pages app with old keyboard/ interface

While it's annoying that few third party apps have been updated to use the nice new keyboard, you'd expect Apple to get its own ducks in a row. That hasn't happened as the Pages and Keynote apps are still using the old keyboard. In fact, nothing in those apps has been updated for the iOS7 redesign. That's not cool and so unike Apple.

At least those two iWorks apps use the old keyboard. The Numbers app doesn't display a keyboard at all and is unusable without an external keyboard connected. Apple better get this updated pretty darn quickly.

Read more on iOS 7:

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iPhone, iPad, Tablets

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  • A matter of taste

    I keep looking at the "ugly old" and the "crisp new" keyboard images. My aesthetic feelings range from "who cares" to "I like the old one lots better".

    Maybe its an Android thing.
    • Just Remember

      the old and ugly was the crisp and new up until yesterday.
    • A step backwards

      The new is harder on the eyes because of the contrast and brightness and harder to see because the letters are thinner. OK, it's "SOFT" let me decide how I want the keyboard to look since Apple has clearly lost "IT"
      • Not an Android thing

        The so-called "ugly old" is easier to see and use for exactly the reasons you state. Overall, the iOS7 design seems less "crisp new" than flat, basic, untextured, and a bit dumbed down.
        • I still like skeuomorphism

          yeah, the old design is better for me. Actually, if I am the one who is paying for the device, why can't I have the right to choose? Can IOS 7 let me choose how the graphics look like? if i still like the old way of skeuomorphism, what's wrong to let ME choose it?
  • Umm, James, Numbers does use a virtual keyboard

    When you mentioned a lack of a virtual keyboard in Apple's Numbers app, I was rather incredulous. Naturally, I had to verify for myself.

    I loaded up a Numbers Spreadsheet and tested that observation.

    Well, I had access to a virtual keyboard (the iOS6 one) on my iPad.

    I suggest you verify this point again. If your Numbers app lacks this feature, I suggest you delete it and reinstall.
    • 2 iPads

      It's missing on two different iPads for me. Something's not right.
      • keyboard is not working

        Could it be possible that you have some bluetooth keyboard associated and it is preventing the on screen keyboard to be shown?
        • No

          I thought about that but running Pages and Keynote shows the old keyboard so that can't be it.
    • Create a new spreadsheet

      Should add that my observation about Numbers is based on creating a new spreadsheet, not editing an existing one.
      • James, I created a new spreadsheet and I had access to

        virtual Keyboard input. The only explanation I can come up with is that it is a bizarre bug that is associated with your newer iPad models. I currently still use the original retina iPad (third generation).
        • Just an observation.

          I have noticed a significant drop in touch input responsiveness when I use Apple's restyled iOS 7 virtual keyboard (for example, typing this comment on my iPad) but when I am using the "old ugly iOS 6 virtual keyboard" in Numbers or Pages, the responsiveness of that old keyboard is far greater (just like it was prior to the iOS 7 upgrade.)

          This is obviously a bug with this version of iOS 7
          • So we're waiting for 7.0.2?

            Because 7.0.1 is an iPhone 5c/5s patch.

            And I'm waiting for them to update Pages, but that's a different story altogether.
            Michael Alan Goff
  • Try rebooting the device. I found that fixed a number

    of glitches after I upgraded.
    • same for me

      The ZDNET app was behaving strangely. Restart fixed it. Might be, old settings and some apps nevertheless fully stopped during the upgrade.
  • Simple thing

    When app is compiled and mean to be run on iOS7 it has new keyboard if target platform is 6 it has old one.... Why to bother about this?
  • Just wait...

    Give it time and there will be a hack that brings back some of the things people liked better in iOS 6.
    Al Roberg
  • Just surprised there are no long-press numbers

    on the top row. First thing I did with my Android phone was replace the stock keyboard to be able to enter alternating letters and numbers without switching to the buried keyboard. Such an obvious thing.
    • This.

      ...and have they changed the behavior of the keys pertaining to letter case indication?

      Every time I have to type on one of my clients' iphones or ipads I get bloody frustrated because I can't tell if i'm in upper-case or lower-case. That seems like the most basic thing in the world. Make all the keys indicate the case!

      (...and seriously... the keyboard isn't a consistent change across the OS? How can they get away with having different keyboards for different apps?)
  • I like the old

    For me the contrast is better on the old then the new keyboard? Maybe its just the pictures?
    I looked over my Daughters iPhone after IOS 7 and was not impressed. Its just different, not in a bad or good way. Just different. Not sure what all the fuss is about? But again, that's Apple.