External wireless keyboards can be connected to and used with iPhones and iPod touches through Bluetooth. This can help when typing anything of length, particularly if you're not as fast a typer with the virtual keyboard, and it allows you to create an immediate (albeit tiny) workstation just about anywhere. There's also a very nice software-side bonus to using an external keyboard with iOS too; the virtual keyboard disappears when an external keyboard is paired, letting you see the entire screen unobstructed while you type.
If you've turned off Bluetooth to conserve battery life, you'll need to turn it back on again to get this working. We'll use an official and generic Apple Wireless Keyboard for the purpose of this walkthrough.
Connecting the External Wireless Keyboard to the iPhone
- Open Settings, tap Bluetooth, and flip the switch to ON – don't exit out of Settings quite yet
- Now turn on the Bluetooth keyboard
- Back on the iPhone and still in the BLuetooth settings, look under the "Devices" list and tap the keyboard when it appears
- Using the external keyboard, type the passcode as shown on the iPhone screen, and hit the enter key when finished
The wireless keyboard will now show as "Connected" under the Bluetooth Devices menu, and you are free to exit out of Settings and use the keyboard as normal with the iPhone in any app.
Disconnecting the Wireless External Keyboard from iOS
The simplest way to disconnect the keyboard is to just turn off Bluetooth again:
- Go back to Settings, choose Bluetooth, and flip to OFF
Disabling Bluetooth isn't an option if you use it for hands free sets, speakers, or other accessories though, so you can also choose to "forget" the device to disconnect it, though you will have to go through the basic pairing and syncing process again when you want to use the external keyboard the next time around.
- Open Settings and tap Bluetooth
- Tap the Device Name followed by "Forget this Device", confirm by tapping the red "Forget Device" button
If you don't have a dedicated external keyboard to use, another option is to use a third party app like Type2Phone, which turns a Macs keyboard into a bluetooth keyboard for an iOS or Android device.