6 must-know shortcuts for every Smart Keyboard owner

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Apple has extended service on the Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro to address
Apple has extended service on the Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro to address "functional issues."
Photo: Ally Kazmucha/The App Factor

How to unlock your iPhone’s secret emoticon powers

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Send your friends these adorable text-based emoticons.
Send your friends these adorable text-based emoticons.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Emoji has sort of taken over my iMessage conversations on the iPhone lately, and I’m willing to bet you use a lot of the cute little pictures too.

What if I told you there was a hidden treasure trove of text-based emoticons that you can access in addition to your favorite emoji?

Even better — it’s easy to enable these iPhone secret emoticons. Here’s how.

Smart keyboard will teach you how to play piano

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Learning piano was never this much fun.
Learning piano was never this much fun.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Lust List: The ONE Light smart keyboard

Who doesn’t want to play piano? Learning to tickle the ivories must be right up there with writing the great American novel: Many of us have a hankering to become more musical.

The fantastic $299 ONE Light smart keyboard is the way to go if you want a piano that will show you how to play without hiring a teacher.

Pocket Keyboard unfolds into traveling text machine

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Plunk the Zagg Pocket Keyboard in your backpack for typing on the go.
Plunk the Zagg Pocket Keyboard in your backpack for typing on the go.
Photo: Milo Kahney/Cult of Mac

Lust List: Zagg Pocket Keyboard

The Zagg Pocket Keyboard is for anyone desperate to carry the bare minimum. Well, the bare minimum would be to skip the keyboard altogether, but if you are looking for the convenience of an external keyboard without the hassle of carrying one, look no further.

How to get rid of the predictive text suggestions on your iPhone

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With predictive text enabled. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
With predictive text enabled. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

iOS 8 brought with it a couple of keyboard changes — adding support for predictive text suggestions when you’re using the built-in iOS keyboard.

This is pretty great stuff, unless it bugs you to have three words or phrases at the top of your keyboard. If that’s you, then here’s a simple way to disable the “feature.”

Finally, an emoji keyboard that’s better than Apple’s

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Screenshot: Alex Heath/ Cult of Mac

It’s not that Apple’s emoji keyboard is necessarily bad, but it could be better. If you’re a hardcore emoji user, you know that it’s a pain to scroll through and find the perfect emoji in the moment.

Maybe you’re looking for the perfect funny face or food item for the conversation. To take your emoji game to the next level, you need a third-party keyboard called Emoji++.

Clickety keyboard without the clack is perfect for stealth missions

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Beautiful and functional. And no frikkin wires. Photo Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
The Matias Secure Pro is beautiful and functional. And no frikkin' wires. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you like mechanical keyboards, but those inconsiderate jerks in your office or home can’t stand the clackety racket they make, then you might consider something that uses “tactile” keys instead, which look and work like clicky keys — only without the click.

And if you’re into wireless keyboards, but you don’t like the NSA van parked outside snooping the connection and recording your keystrokes, you might like something with an encrypted wireless connection.

Well, guess what? We have just the thing. The Matias Secure Pro, a tactile keyboard with 128-bit AES Encryption.

Filco MiniLa Air Bluetooth: Clackety keyboard on the go

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The Filco MiniLa Air Bluetooth, alongside my own tenkeyless Filco Majestouch.
The Filco MiniLa Air Bluetooth, alongside my own tenkeyless Filco Majestouch. Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

I took the Filco MiniLa Air Bluetooth keyboard with me on vacation this year to use with a MacBook Air propped up on the fantastic Roost stand. I use the tenkeyless Filco Majestouch at home, and I was hoping for the same super-accurate, clicky-key action in this battery-powered, portable wireless version.

And I almost got it. But for one major flaw, the MiniLa is almost as good as the desktop version. The good news is, that flaw might just be a personal quibble.