As Apple continues to push out new versions of their ios operating system, users are enjoying the ever-increasing cool, new features… except one very obvious one: the always-on number row. Now before all the Apple lovers out there scream, “but there are apps that solve this”, answer this: Why isn’t the number row just “always on” like virtually all non-Apple phones have with Android? That seems to be the #1 complaint surrounding Apple’s apparent refusal to deploy a seemingly obvious improvement.
Bigger Screens = More Real Estate
As the iPhone screens keep getting bigger, with that comes more real estate; more room to fit more virtual keys in the keyboard. One theory Apple users have had as to why Apple didn’t include the always-on number row in early iPhones was that there wasn’t enough room for the number row and therefore it made sense to opt for the “shift to numbers key” vs. having to squish the entire keyboard smaller to fit in an always-on number row. However, that theory seems to be gone now that there’s plenty of real estate on the newer iPhone’s giant screen yet still no always-on number row is included by default.
Is Apple stubborn or just striving to be unique?
Many of Apple’s seemingly confusing moves can be rooted in strategic business decisions. These include: holding out on including removable micro SD cards in their devices so users must always buy the larger capacity version of that device, to not having removable batteries which would enable users to replace them when they start going bad, or only allowing Apple watches to be used with iPhones. There are clearly business (more revenue) based decisions Apple has made over the years, however this doesn’t seem like it would be one of them. There doesn’t seem to be any financial benefit to Apple not upgrading ios to include an “always on” number row. There’s no apple branded keyboard app users are pushed to buy that Apple earns additional revenue from. This ads one more layer of curiosity as to why Apple wouldn’t have included the always-on number row in ios yet.
3rd Party Keyboard Apps
Many Apple supporters point out that there are a slew of popular 3rd party apps out there which solve this issue and include an option for an “always on” number row. One very popular app is SwiftKey which includes an optional for the number row to show at all times.
To wrap up, if you are an iPhone user and yearn for an always-on number row, my best suggestion would be to use an app like SwiftKey for now and also leave a comment on Apple’s twitter account and/or Facebook fan page letting them know that you want it. If enough users demand it, they’ll likely build it into a future release of ios.