Tools & Technologies

Text Entry on Mobile Devices

Lizette looks at the challenge of text entry on mobile devices, and offers a roundup of current happenings:

Cramped on a tiny, flat screen with nondelineated keys, the QWERTY keyboard is ripe for smartphone makeover. Typing on a keyboard one-fifth the standard size can be slow, awkward and–as illustrated on sometimes humorous autocorrect failure blogs–riddled with inaccuracies.

As consumers increasingly expect pocket-sized gadgets to be full-powered computing devices, companies big and small are reimagining a more elegant human computer interface. This season’s smartphones from Samsung, Apple and Research In Motion all have larger screens than their predecessors with a focus on making it easier to create content instead of simply consuming it.

Lizette talks about:
– better interfaces on mobile devices, mainly around larger screens.
– the pen on the Galaxy Note II.
– what’s coming from RIM in BlackBerry 10.
– aftermarket add-on Bluetooth keyboards.
– virtual laser keyboards.
– what Tactus Technology is doing with microfluidic technology.
– … and more.

Michael’s Comments
1. The physical keyboard on the BlackBerry devices continues to be the gold standard, in my view. When I was a BlackBerry user, I thought nothing of sitting in a conference session and blogging the session using my BlackBerry – with my thumbs on both hands doing the typing. I would never consider doing that on an iPhone – it’s too slow and single-handed.

2. Yeah, the QWERTY keyboard is ripe for reinvention, but there have been alternatives for many years. I switched to the Dvorak keyboard layout some years ago, and have found typing a lot easier since making the transition. But it took me almost 18 months to make the transition from full fluidity on QWERTY to full fluidity on Dvorak. It was a long, slow, and painful process.

3. So while the technology of keyboards may change, it’s a huge / massive job to re-train people to make the transition if they have to learn a new typing layout.

4. Lizette didn’t talk about speech recognition on computers and mobile devices. I think that needed more focus. There are some good options here, although personally it’s been a few years since I have tried any speech recognition options. I prefer typing to speaking at my computer.

Categories: Tools & Technologies