I bought this crazy-assed replacement on-screen keyboard for iOS, and it's interesting, but after having used it for a couple of days the primary effect I've discovered is that I'm just typing a lot less because it's so fucking hard to do. I guess I'm giving up now.

I never got the hang of swiping with both thumbs: it seems like there's a timeout where if you take too long between letters it decides you're done? Or something? And when typing a long word, the whole keyboard gets so covered with glowy Tron psychedelia that you can't even read the keycaps any more. There are popup menus for correction where you're expected to pull down then move left or right, and inevitably the thing you're trying to find is occluded directly under your hand, no matter which hand you use.

I remember finding on-screen keyboards initially incredibly frustrating, but I don't think it was this frustrating. At this point I think what I really want is just one that has much better text prediction. (the stock iOS 8 keyboard is enormously better than iOS 7 in this regard.)

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17 Responses:

  1. Seen this? Tactile keyboard that sticks to the iPad screen with juggalo-confounding magnetic tech.

    • jwz says:

      "More shit to carry around" == deal breaker.

      Anyway, I mostly find typing on the iPad relatively painless -- I can do a sort-of 2-or-6-fingered touch type thing. It's on the iPhone that it's a horror show.

  2. topaz says:

    I've tried a couple of Swype replacement swiping keyboards and I found them all maddening, and terrible at text prediction. I don't know if the two-handed aspect is a deal breaker for you with a device this large, but original Swype might be worth a shot. You can turn the trails on and off, pausing doesn't end the word (only lifting your finger does), and the suggestions appear at the end in a row above the keyboard, like a civilized device.

    • jwz says:

      This one does suggestions at the top too, sorta. And you can turn off the trails but then it seems like you don't have any idea what key you just hit at all.

      I guess I'm not particularly interested in "trying out" a zillion different keyboards that do only slight variations of the same thing at five bucks a pop.

      I hadn't tried any swiping keyboards before and this one was reviewed well, so I gave it a shot.

      • gryazi says:

        Is this somehow worse than Swype where it rarely matters which key you just hit as long as the overall pattern dings the word?

      • Kevin Geiss says:

        I agree, this keyboard is terrible, I tried it out too.

        I do like the original swype keyboard, though (on iOS). It's Good at prediction, and almost magical in its ability to figure out the correct word from my crazy swiping... it "feels" faster than tapping.

        It remembers all the words... If you move the cursor back to the end of any previous word, it offers you good alternatives for that word, unlike the built-in keyboard, where when you move the cursor away from the word, you're on your own.

        I use Swype almost exclusively with one finger, and I've only learned the special shortcuts for "?" and "!". The only real downside is emoji characters are slower. I think there are shortcuts for accessing them, but I use a couple extra taps to go back to the normal keyboard to get emoji characters. Which means I use less emoji now.

        Flesky was also terrible (and super buggy)

        I also see what I think are iOS bugs... Any third-party keyboard cause the messages app occasional wonkiness. Kicking the messages app out of memory always fixes it though.

    • mattyj says:

      +1 for Swype. Did not like Switfkey, it seemed too rigid and didn't seem to learn enough about me.

      Swype, on the other hand, learns all the stupid ways I mistype (misswype?) words and figures out what I mean most of the time. It takes some time to learn all that crap but it was well worth 99 cents for me.

  3. Ingmar says:

    Most confusing demo video ever.

  4. Jeff Clough says:

    I've tried half a dozen replacements and I'm pretty sure the next one I try is going to be a morse-code keyboard. I need to learn morse eventually, a good sender can easily hit 100 wpm, and there aren't many ways to fuck up an interface consisting of only two buttons.

    • gryazi says:

      Morse on the table next to the device with the accellerometer or mic would be excellent sometimes and how could the peamstunk kids not love that? (Slightly tricky because for straight-keying you'd have to find a way to catch the finger lift for dahs, or just train it since everyone has a cadence.)

      On the device, trying to get anywhere near 20WPM with a thumb seems like it'd be some fresh new circle of hell, but you might just be tormenting my motor memory there.

      Having a morse pad for alpha on a punctuation/numerics / everything-else-that's-a-pain-in-the-ass-in-morse keyboard (or that mode of all regular keyboards, ever) might just be an exit from a different circle, though. Someone please make that happen everywhere somehow. Think of all the sekrit easter-egg points.

      • Pavel Lishin says:


        I'm digging the idea of a morse-based input (mostly because it would finally encourage me to learn it), but I'm pretty sure that for the first two weeks, I would just make it 100% upper case, and use the old style.


        • Jeff Clough says:

          The only thing I've ever seen autocorrect/autocomplete get mostly right is caps correction, so I think that could be a non-issue.

      • Jeff Clough says:

        With a straight key, down is for dits, down-for-three-times-as-long is for dahs. If whatever SDK you're using reports the proper analogs of onMouseDown and onMouseUp with timestamps, you could conceivably do it all with one finger, no thumbs required.

        After about two weeks of practice (well over a year ago), I was reliably hitting 20 wpm with a straight key. I'd wager decent money that's faster than I've ever gotten with a touchscreen keyboard.

  5. Michael V. says:

    SwiftKey on Android is a wonder. The text prediction is good enough that I can write whole paragraphs with the defaults. SwiftKey on iOS is... not as much, but I hold out hope that the iOS version will catch up to the Android version.

  6. Nintype is kind of magical when it works, but I'm not convinced I can get good enough with it to become accurate enough for high speed use. It's kinda fun to try though.

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