Tweetie links, my stupidity, and the iPhone keyboard

In yesterday’s post about Tweetie, I mentioned its built-in browser and the Post Link to this Page command, which will open a new tweet that contains a shortened URL to the page you were just looking at. While a nice feature, it’s somewhat limited, since you probably don’t spend much time surfing the web from Tweetie’s browser.

Today the folks at Atebits posted a set of instructions1 for creating a JavaScript bookmarklet in Mobile Safari which, when selected, switches to Tweetie and opens a new tweet that contains a shortened URL to the page you were just browsing in Safari. This is a huge improvement and makes posting links practical from the iPhone--even without cut and paste.

The JavaScript is simple:

javascript:window.location='tweetie:'+window.location


which I think means they’ve registered Tweetie as the handler of the tweetie URL protocol.

The instructions call for you to create the bookmarklet on your iPhone; if you sync bookmarks, it would be much easier for you to create the bookmarklet on your computer and let syncing transfer it to your iPhone.

I first thought it was actually impossible to create the bookmarklet on the iPhone because I didn’t think you could type quotation marks in a URL field, and I said as much to the Atebits people on their forum. To their credit, their response didn’t include ROTFLMAO, but gently showed me how to type the needed quotation marks.

How is it that I didn’t know how to type quotation marks after nine months of using the iPhone? Well, stupidity is certainly the biggest part of the answer, but there is another part: Apple has given the iPhone two keyboards and their designs aren’t consistent.

You know that there are different keyboard sets, right? There’s the normal keyboard that you use when typing an email or a tweet: it has a spacebar and a key labeled “.?123” that takes you to a secondary keyboard with numbers and symbols. Then there’s the URL-specific keyboard that you use when typing a URL in Safari’s address field: it has no spacebar, a “.com” key, and a key labeled “@123” that takes you to a secondary keyboard with numbers and symbols.

The secondary keyboards are different, too. The normal secondary keyboard has a key for the single quotation mark; the URL-specific secondary keyboard does not. Which is why I thought there was no way to type the single quotes into Safari’s URL field.

It turns out the single quote key is on the URL-specific tertiary keyboard, which you get to by tapping the Shift key on the secondary keyboard. Now, I knew there was a tertiary layout for the normal keyboard set--I’d used it many times to type asterisks and percent signs. Why didn’t I realize there was also a tertiary layout for the URL-specific keyboard set?2 I think it’s because the secondary keyboard of the URL-specific set

isn’t as good at letting one know there another keyboard available as the secondary keyboard of the normal set

I like to think that if the Shift key had symbols on it instead of a big arrow, I would figured out how to find the single quote key on my own. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but it comforts me to think it.

It is weird, though, that Apple used a specially-designed key to let us know there were more symbols in the normal keyboard set, and just used a generic Shift key design in the URL-specific set. Not very Applish.

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1. Which I first learned about from this John Gruber tweet↩︎

2. Setting aside, for the moment, my own stupidity. ↩︎