Thursday, November 11, 2010

Android Keyboards

To round out our keyboards section, we decided to take a look at alternative keyboards on Android mobile devices.

The first keyboard, 8pen, is an alternative to the QWERTY keyboard. The letters are placed on four axes and are arranged in a way so the most common letters used are closer to the middle. This keyboard is supposed to more of a natural motion than the common "pecking" of texting and typing on a mobile device. To type on the 8pen, start your finger on the black dot. If you want to type 'a,' slide your finger from the dot on the side of the red bar where the 'a' is located. Continue moving over the red line and back to the black dot. If you pick up your finger, this will create a space. The circular motions are supposed to mimic writing.

Not surprisingly, this keyboard is very hard to get used to. The letters are not imprinted in my brain like they are with a QWERTY keyboard. I had to keep looking down to find the letters, but sometimes my finger was covering the letters so I had to pick my finger up, creating a space, and take a peek. It took a fair amount of time to get accustomed to this keyboard, but once I got the hang out it I started to like it. It was almost like a game - I wanted to get the process right - without any mistakes. Supposedly, with this keyboard, you will not have to look what you are typing once you memorize the letters, which could be very handy and fast for anyone in need of quick messages. I recommend this application if you have patience and don't mind taking a long time to send messages for a while. For more information, visit the 8pen website or watch the informational video here.

The second keyboard, SlideIT, is an easier way to type on the traditional QWERTY keyboard. Not trying to be cheesy, but instead of picking up your finger, simply slide it - like the name says. It makes typing so much faster than the pecking method of traditional keyboards on mobile devices. Now, people don't have to worry about their finger being too large. You can turn this writing style on and off, so it is really easy to try. It doesn't take very long to get accustomed to this style because you already know the layout and placement of the keys. The only downside of this keyboard is that it tries to guess what word you mean since your fingers don't always hit the proper keys. If you are trying to type in a word that it doesn't recognize it may come up with a "?" or guess something incorrectly. This isn't really a problem, though, because you can add words to the app's vocabulary. This application also comes complete with Graffiti mode, which allows you to draw numbers and letters, which are then read by the mobile device. All in all, I would highly recommend this version of QWERTY typing. It it fast, easy to learn and very convenient. For more information, visit SlideIT's website.

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