Caution: iOS9.3 / iBooks 4.7 breaks external keyboard support

Apple released the 9.3 version of iOS a couple of days ago, bringing as always a host of new features, among which the much anticipated multi-user support for classrooms.

When installed, it also upgrades iBooks to version 4.7, but unfortunately this version breaks support for external iPad keyboards for embedded widgets: the spacebar is no longer usable during text input.

What happens exactly depends on how the widget was integrated:

  • For on-page widgets, the space bar moves you to the next page. This behaviour is now the same as for iBooks on OSX, an extra reason for not using widgets which require text input on-page.
  • What’s worse is that also fullscreen widgets can no longer use an external keyboard: pressing the spacebar is now simply ignored.

Working around the iOS 9.3 / iBooks 4.7 keyboard problem

While annoying, this problem doesn't completely block you:

  • We’ve not noticed any problems using the onscreen keyboard, either in on-page or in fullscreen mode.
  • If using the onscreen keyboard feels awkward or inefficient, you can use ‘alt - space’ (or 'option - space') to insert spaces using an external keyboard. It will take some time to retrain your brain, but I imagine some students will prefer to stick to an external keyboard.
  • Never use widgets requiring text input on-page!

Solving the iOS 9.3 / iBooks 4.7 keyboard problem

A fix for this problem will have to come from Apple. We’ve filed a bug report and we’ll reach out to the contacts we have, but we can’t influence Apple’s development schedule.

Assuming the iBooks team will give this a higher priority if they hear from the users affected, we encourage you to reach out to them if this is a problem for you or your students.

If you’re not in contact with Apple directly, this article describes the ways to get in touch: Submitting feedback and bug reports to Apple.


If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at

Xavier Van Elsacker

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