I'm curious if there's a UX-oriented explanation for putting the right-quotation-mark tap-and-hold-key(s) to the left of the left-quotation-mark key on iOS.  AFAIK, the keys have been orientated this way since iOS gained tap-and-hold-keys (IIRC, iOS 7 in 2013, but it may have been longer ago).

Double Quotation Mark Keyboard tap-and-hold options Single Quotation Mark Keyboard tap-and-hold options

Is there any logical reason why Apple's iOS team would design it this way— am I missing something?  The fact that the angle (French) quotation mark keys are arranged left-mark-on-left & right-mark-on-right makes this look like a design oversight— but that doesn't explain why it hasn't been corrected with other keyboard changes in more-recent iOSes.

Note: I'm not looking for a solution to put the keys in left-to-right order here.  That kind of question would belong on the Ask Different Stack Exchange and has an obvious solution— download a different keyboard.

  • Which iOS and device is this?
    – Alvaro
    Nov 18, 2016 at 20:17
  • 10, iPad Air 2. Nov 18, 2016 at 20:30
  • 2
    To be honest, I can't tell the difference between left and right quotations (cheking on my own iPad Air 2)
    – Devin
    Nov 19, 2016 at 3:29
  • This doesn't happen on Android.
    – Alvaro
    Nov 19, 2016 at 9:51

2 Answers 2


TL;DR: The distribution of the characters responds to the proximity of the upper keys to the finger and the frequency of use of the characters.

I think it is because of the way the iOS keyboards organize the keys. Take a look at this screenshots of the keyboard:





On the iPhone when you press the key, all possible values go to the list. This probably is due to the small size of the screen which makes the finger be covering the whole character.

On the iPad the main character stays in its place while pressing the key.

Now, I think there is a distribution that responds to the proximity of the upper keys to the finger and the importance, or frequency of use, of the characters. The closer to the finger the more important (or more frequent) the character. [In the image the numbers represent closest key to the finger holding, 1 is the closest]


The closest character in each list is located on top of the finger on iPhone and below the finger (in the same place?) on iPad (after the first character iPad follows iPhone's order). Then the one on the right (my guess is it might be easier for right-handed) then on the left, then on the right, etc. and then if there are more characters it goes to the upper row and continue from the center.

You can notice that this rule is also consistent with ? ¿ or ! ¡ which are displayed reverse way.

If you look close to the distribution of the characters you are asking about, on the iPhone they are distributed the "correct" way (left on the left right on the right):

iphone quote

but it is just a matter of coincidence. On the iPad each character has the same order (proximity to the finger importance) which makes the right quotation be on the left (by the way, the character 1 represented in the keyboard is not the actual character):


Why would the right character be more important than the left one?

My guess is it might be more frequent. Here is a link which might prove some uses of the right character by itself.

And about the right double quotation, either it is more frequent than the left one or, as @Crissov stated in the other answer, it follows the single quotation order.

  • Thanks Devin! It is all conjectures though.
    – Alvaro
    Nov 19, 2016 at 17:24
  • Seems like the most plausible explanation to me— that Apple originally kept the proximity-ordering consistent with the iPhone's ordering, rather than laying-out specifically for the iPad. It still doesn't make a whole lot of sense, considering the iPhone's layout is different from the iPad's in other ways (e.g. the single- and double-quote keys are in different rows on the iPhone but side-by-side on the iPad) and it still strikes me as a legacy issue rather than a conscient good-UX choice. But this is the best explanation I've seen for Apple's choice, so answer acceptance goes to you. Nov 22, 2016 at 16:20
  • @Alvaro: “It is all conjectures though.” True, but until we have an Apple engineer chime in here, conjectures is all we have to go on. I specifically tagged the question design-speculation for this reason. Nov 22, 2016 at 16:22

The best explanation I can come up with is that is used as a quotation mark and an apostrophe, so it gets used more than and hence should be quicker or simpler to access. Double quotation marks almost always occur in pairs and thus their alignment comes from consistency with the single marks.

The UX is a bit messed up, though, for doesn’t gets auto-corrected to doesn't ’t – at least when I last checked in iOS 9 and if I remember correctly.

  • 1
    Except that the base key ' is the true Apostrophe U+0027 character. I wouldn't expect that a Unicode Right Single Quotation Mark U+2019 would auto-correct to the more-general-purpose ASCII apostrophe. If anything, the apostrophe might autocorrect to a right (or left) single quote because of the historical (typewriter & early computer) usage of ` Grave Accent U+0060 as a left-quote in conjunction with ' Apostrophe U+0027 as a right-quote, or usage of the ' apostrophe as both left- & right- single quotes. Oct 25, 2016 at 21:49

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