Hands On: Keymand 1.1 brings touch-screen options to your Mac from a connected iPad

Posted:
in Mac Software edited February 2018
The Keymand iPad app connects to a Mac, and acts like a beefy, user-configurable MacBook Pro Touch Bar.




Plug your iPad into your iMac, iMac Pro or MacBook and Keymand 1.1 will give you one-touch buttons to control your applications or the computer itself. The iPad screen becomes a sea of buttons which come with typical functions and can be edited or added to as you need.




Keymand's aim is the same as Apple's for the Touch Bar on MacBooks, just on a larger scale. Rather than having to dig through menus to find an option or feature you use a lot, you just make a button for it. So, while you're working at your Mac, you can reach over to your iPad and tap one of those buttons.

It does require you to be running a free Mac app called Keymand DT. When you've installed that, a Lightning connection means you won't get any WiFi or Bluetooth delays.

That same Lightning cable connection also means that Keymand knows what application you're using on the Mac. Launch Safari and Keymand will present you with a series of buttons to deal with common tasks like New Window, Add Bookmark and so on.

If you use any standard Apple app provided on your Mac then Keymand comes preloaded with a screenful of relevant buttons. When you're in Safari, for instance, Keymand shows you around 50 different buttons. It's about the same in iTunes and Mail, but Apple Notes has around 40 and the App Store has 11.




So, right away, the most commonly used tools in the most commonly used apps have buttons preset on Keymand.

However, Keymand has space for more. You can create buttons for any application you want. Then, not only can you add so many new buttons that you fill up the iPad screen but you can then swipe to get another three screens. Each has a maximum of 64 buttons so Keymand really offers up to 256 buttons for every app you ever use.

There's no question but that if there's an option you use a lot in any macOS app then you can make a button out of it and be able to tap your iPad to make that happen.

Editing the buttons is mostly very easy, too. On your Mac, you go into whatever app you want to make a button for and then on the iPad you tap the Keymand logo to go into an editing screen.




Tap next on a button that you want to change or to set up from scratch. You then give that button a name and, if you want, pick a color. So maybe you could make 'Quit' be one button but you color it red while New Document is green.

Then you tell Keymand what command it is that you want to add to the button and you do this by typing in that command's keyboard shortcut.

If the feature you want to execute at a touch through Keymand does not have a keyboard shortcut, Keymand can't do it. However, macOS lets you assign keystrokes to any menu option through the Keyboard preferences pane.

Entering those keystrokes into Keymand is a little fiddly, though. For some reason the section where you type the keys into dims rather than highlights when you're editing. Plus you get a full keyboard on screen but if you make a mistake and tap delete, for instance, then Keymand thinks you're telling it you want 'delete' to be a keyboard shortcut.

Equally, if you finish entering your keyboard shortcut and press Return, then Keymand thinks you want to make 'Return' be the keystroke on the button.

So entering the right keyboard shortcut means both finding what it should be through looking in the macOS app's menus and then entering it carefully into Keymand. It's something that you only ever need to do once per button you set up. Once you've done it, being able to tap to launch Find in Mail or insert a new row in Excel is genuinely fast and useful.

It also works when the keyboard shortcut is not a standard one that needs you to press the Command or Option keys. Keymand will send your Mac any keystroke you tell it, so if you wanted to put, say, the letters of the alphabet on its buttons, you could. You also might want to use audio soundboard app Farrago and assign letters to different sounds. So, you could tell Keymand to send an "A" which tells Farrago to play whatever sound you've set up under that letter.

The app does hinge on keyboard shortcuts, though. You're just making a button to enter the same keystroke you could from the keyboard. As fast as it is to tap a button on Keymand, it can be faster to keep your hands on the keyboard and type the shortcut yourself, assuming you don't have to hunt-and-peck for the combo.

However, if you have an iPad by your Mac on your desk, it's a good use for that extra screen without a screen-extension app. Plus, the Lightning cable will be charging up the device all day too.

Keymand 1.1 is on the iOS App Store for $19.99.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    A fine idea. Hope the developers see some success.
    wonkothesanewatto_cobraMisterKitwilliamlondonstanthemanjony0
  • Reply 2 of 18
    Wow just what I need for my desktop, an iPad as a really expensive second keyboard. What I need is official Apple system level support for the iPad as a pressure sensitive graphics tablet. I don't want to pay $70 a year for Astropad.
    williamlondonlolliver
  • Reply 3 of 18
    charles1 said:
    Wow just what I need for my desktop, an iPad as a really expensive second keyboard. What I need is official Apple system level support for the iPad as a pressure sensitive graphics tablet. I don't want to pay $70 a year for Astropad.
    Try this....https://www.duetdisplay.com/pro/


  • Reply 4 of 18
    emoeller said:
    charles1 said:
    Wow just what I need for my desktop, an iPad as a really expensive second keyboard. What I need is official Apple system level support for the iPad as a pressure sensitive graphics tablet. I don't want to pay $70 a year for Astropad.
    Try this....https://www.duetdisplay.com/pro/


    I agree with Emoeller. I've used DuetDisplay for a couple of years to allow me to have a second screen when working away from my office.
    watto_cobrajahbladestantheman
  • Reply 5 of 18
    This could be a godsend for Finale or Sibelius users, just off the top of my head.
  • Reply 6 of 18
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,950member
    Charles, Emoeller, Stevedownunder: do any of you actually understand what this app does? It's not a second display, it's a TouchBar on steroids.

    Instead of trying to find commands from a long list of menu items, you simply configure your iPad to work as a touch entry pad. I can see lots of uses, especially for applications with lots of features that require a key sequence to operate. 
    watto_cobraGeorgeBMacwilliamlondonpscooter63stanthemanjony0
  • Reply 7 of 18
    rob53 said:
    Charles, Emoeller, Stevedownunder: do any of you actually understand what this app does? It's not a second display, it's a TouchBar on steroids.

    Instead of trying to find commands from a long list of menu items, you simply configure your iPad to work as a touch entry pad. I can see lots of uses, especially for applications with lots of features that require a key sequence to operate. 
    Rob53, I fully understand what this app does (a dashboard of shortcuts) and I think it is great!  

    My post was responding to Charles1 who was looking for a way to turn his iPad into a digitizer.  While Duet Display is used to turn an iPad into  a second monitor (and it is GREAT for me when I am on the road), it also has a Pro version that allows the iPad to act as a digitizer.  Check out the link if you are interested in this....
    watto_cobrawilliamlondonlolliver
  • Reply 8 of 18
    I can see this being really nice with Logic Pro X. Bookmarked for now.
    watto_cobrapaisleydiscostantheman
  • Reply 9 of 18
    I'm trying it out right now, but as of yet I don't seem to get it to work on a web based program. The buttons Keymand shows are (of course) how to control Safari, but the program I'm running from Safari is not shown, and I don't seem to be able to make the buttons work for that program. A pity. Had high hopes to make this web based program, I use every day, a lot smarter. 
    edited February 2018 stantheman
  • Reply 10 of 18
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,339member
    Nice idea but perhaps a bit too expensive. I know most short cuts that I need.
    williamlondonlolliver
  • Reply 11 of 18
    LatkoLatko Posts: 176member
    Great.
    Now we need a 12" button or macro that instantly changes Phil Schillers' negation of a touchscreen Mac into "courage"
    edited February 2018 williamlondon
  • Reply 12 of 18
    Latko said:
    Great.
    Now we need a button or macro that instantly changes Phil Schillers' negation of a touchscreen Mac into courage
    Tape your iPad to the wall so it is the same height as an iMac or Mac / Screen.  Sit down, use it and see how quick your arm gets tired.
    GeorgeBMacwilliamlondonpscooter63fastasleeplolliver
  • Reply 13 of 18
    rob53 said:
    Charles, Emoeller, Stevedownunder: do any of you actually understand what this app does? It's not a second display, it's a TouchBar on steroids.

    Instead of trying to find commands from a long list of menu items, you simply configure your iPad to work as a touch entry pad. I can see lots of uses, especially for applications with lots of features that require a key sequence to operate. 
    To me, this looks like a menu system converted to the MS Tile system.
    But, it would be an improvement over the scattered nonsense MS converted its office suite apps to a few releases back.  I still have to search for the icon I need when I used to just pull down a menu and there it was.
    lolliver
  • Reply 14 of 18
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,864member
    This is somewhat interesting but the user interaction is quite awkward.

    This app does hint at a potentially useful product that Apple could fairly easily design & implement that would have a much more natural flow: a modified version of the latest Magic Trackpad 2 that has an LCD panel embedded beneath the touch surface so it can surface smart controls, contextually relevant to both system wide, application, and workflow tasks. Such a device, Magic Trackpad Video (MTV), could still fully function as a trackpad but smart buttons could be positioned anywhere on the surface of the trackpad, perhaps as configured by the user, to execute keyboard commands, toggle switches, sliders, etc. The entire surface would still function as a trackpad for cursor movement and gestures and not interfere with the underlying controls, which would require "pressing" to activate. The haptic feedback already in the Magic Trackpad 2 would greatly enhance the user experience of interacting with the smart controls versus pressing on an iPad screen. The smart controls and trackpad zones would be assigned to dedicated areas on the trackpad surface, per user configuration. The fact that the Magic Trackpad 2 is so large in surface area leaves a lot of room to satisfy both trackpad and control operations on the same surface. I believe that the current Magic Trackpad 2 touch and gesture functionality would be little changed if at all. The biggest change beyond the video surface is the need for hit testing of the control surface independently of cursor position. The fact that the trackpad is already situated adjacent to your keyboard and horizontally in the same plane as your keyboard would make the user interaction much more natural than an iPad screen. I'd prefer it to work either wired through USB/lightning or wireless. In addition to input control the Magic Trackpad Video could be used as a video output device/second screen, function as a numeric keypad when your keypad doesn't have one, calculator, etc.   
    edited February 2018
  • Reply 15 of 18
    In practice one only ever uses a small proportion of an Apple Magic Trackpad 2. It kills me that Apple have never thought about widening and deepening the Trackpad's capabilities: i.e., Pencil (input), Numeric pad, Keystroke pad for example...there are many things Apple could do with a trackpad other than generate frightfully disgusting profit margins.
  • Reply 16 of 18
    I'm trying it out right now, but as of yet I don't seem to get it to work on a web based program. The buttons Keymand shows are (of course) how to control Safari, but the program I'm running from Safari is not shown, and I don't seem to be able to make the buttons work for that program. A pity. Had high hopes to make this web based program, I use every day, a lot smarter. 
    Thanks for this info.  I don't have a lot of time at the moment to test this app out, but I'm most interested in seeing if this would act as a dashboard for WorkFlow or IFTT subroutines.   It if does then that might be a way to solve your issue with specific website interactions.  If anyone tests this please update the blog, thx.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    dewme said:
    This is somewhat interesting but the user interaction is quite awkward.

    This app does hint at a potentially useful product that Apple could fairly easily design & implement that would have a much more natural flow: a modified version of the latest Magic Trackpad 2 that has an LCD panel embedded beneath the touch surface so it can surface smart controls, contextually relevant to both system wide, application, and workflow tasks. Such a device, Magic Trackpad Video (MTV), could still fully function as a trackpad but smart buttons could be positioned anywhere on the surface of the trackpad, perhaps as configured by the user, to execute keyboard commands, toggle switches, sliders, etc. The entire surface would still function as a trackpad for cursor movement and gestures and not interfere with the underlying controls, which would require "pressing" to activate. The haptic feedback already in the Magic Trackpad 2 would greatly enhance the user experience of interacting with the smart controls versus pressing on an iPad screen. The smart controls and trackpad zones would be assigned to dedicated areas on the trackpad surface, per user configuration. The fact that the Magic Trackpad 2 is so large in surface area leaves a lot of room to satisfy both trackpad and control operations on the same surface. I believe that the current Magic Trackpad 2 touch and gesture functionality would be little changed if at all. The biggest change beyond the video surface is the need for hit testing of the control surface independently of cursor position. The fact that the trackpad is already situated adjacent to your keyboard and horizontally in the same plane as your keyboard would make the user interaction much more natural than an iPad screen. I'd prefer it to work either wired through USB/lightning or wireless. In addition to input control the Magic Trackpad Video could be used as a video output device/second screen, function as a numeric keypad when your keypad doesn't have one, calculator, etc.   
    Pretty sure the Touch Bar and enlarged Trackpad are paving the way to larger virtual control surfaces including the keyboard. There are a bunch of Apple patents that show this progression. 
  • Reply 18 of 18
    Latko said:
    Great.
    Now we need a 12" button or macro that instantly changes Phil Schillers' negation of a touchscreen Mac into "courage"

    You could get a hard keyboard case for your iPad and then run Screens on it.
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