Handedness and the iPad

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed about the iPad is how I’m left-handed on it.

Someone commented the other day that they found using a computer difficult because they were left-handed. That seemed odd to me, since I’m predominantly left handed and I’ve never found it to be a problem on a computer. It may have come down to the fact that they shared a computer with a user who had a right-handed input device like a curved mouse.

On the desktop, despite being left-handed with a pen (for writing or drawing), I’ve always been a right-handed mouser; can’t use a mouse with my left hand to save my life. But that also means I’ve always had room to the left of my keyboards for a Wacom tablet of some sort — the ideal switch-up if my right hand or arm gets tired.

After a couple of years using an iPod touch and a couple of iPhones, I’d never really noticed whether I use my left or right hand on them. I’d guess I use each about equally, especially since I’m a reasonably-proficient two-thumbed typist (in portrait mode, please) on those devices. I could be wrong, but that’d be my guess.

On the iPad, I seem to prefer using my left hand for a lot of input, even when it’s on the right side of the screen. It doesn’t feel awkward to do that, it feels natural. I think that’s interesting.

A device with a virtual keyboard feels natural. That somehow seems counter-intuitive to someone like me who’s used so-called traditional computers for more than 20 years. Like Steve Jobs said: on the iPad, it’s like touching a web page directly. The device gets out of the way. I naturally gravitate towards using my left hand, without even thinking about it.

I even find the keyboard pretty easy to get along with, especially as I become less conscious of it; it’s still not quite as fast as a physical keyboard, but that’s mainly a case of adjusting to the slightly different arrangement from the iPhone. I have no doubt this will improve with a bit more use (I’m writing this on my iPad).