When my mom bought her first smartphone, a “Have a nice day” SMS would take her a good part of the day to type in! Too used to the superbly condensed alpha-numeric layout in her earlier phone, the full-sized virtual keyboard had her painfully searching for characters one after another. Turns out, she’s not the only one who took her own sweet time to get used to a virtual keyboard. With the rise in first-time smartphone owners, the initial learning curve with a virtual keyboard is a pretty common issue.
So much so that, some even choose to go back to their trustworthy BlackBerrys or Nokias a week after struggling with endless typos.
Earlier most companies didn’t seem to care. You got a stock Android or iOS keyboard and the most you could customise it was change your preferred language from English to Mandarin! Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore.
The first saviour was in the form of ‘SWYPE’, initially featured only on a Samsung handset. In India, the Galaxy S was one of the very first Android-based handhelds to feature the super-efficient SWYPE technology. SWYPE lets you type on your handset without you having to even lift a finger, quite literally. Run through the tutorial if you don’t want to try it head-on, and you’re good to go.
To write a certain word, just trace the letters with your finger and SWYPE predicts the word for you. You can then just continue with the next word as SWYPE detects and inserts a space without you having to do it yourself.
Amazingly intuitive and with an easy learning curve, ‘SWYPE’ing really gets addictive after a few trials, even for those who do not take to typing too easily. In fact, SWYPE will possibly help edge out SMS shorthand, now that complete words are so much easier to type.
A more advance version of SWYPE is the downloadable app SwiftKey 3.While the main app is a paid one; you can download a free trial version from Google Play. The app offers really accurate predictions and learns patterns from your typing patterns quickly. The fact that it can be integrated across other apps such as Gmail, Facebook, Twitter or blogs also adds to its desirability quotient.
For the more adventurous and socially attuned, there’s the new Snapkeys Si.
This almost-invisible keyboard frees your tablet or your smartphone of the space-hogging, on-screen keyboard. SnapKeys works on just four buttons which group letters based on their shapes. With only four invisible keys, you tend to make less typing errors. The company hopes these invisible keys will give the user more screen real estate and consequently a better user experience. So, while texting and WhatsApping you can still browse through photos, watch videos or play games.
And while these are some of the options that you can get your fingers on right now, the choices in the near future seem even more exciting. Think about typing in thin air!
A virtual laser keyboard marketed by Brookstone lets you type on any flat surface via its virtually projected keyboard. The integrated laser technology and advanced optics track your fingers with precision as you type on your desk or even the kitchen counter. The device can be connected to your tablet or smartphone via Bluetooth. The device is designed to look like a keychain so you can carry it around anywhere and charge it whenever required with a USB cable.
With interfaces such as these, the good ol’ typing might just soon become a thing of the past.