Category Archives: Interfaces

FrogPad: Turn your Magic Trackpad into a one handed keyboard

Magic Frogpad Frogpad is the one-handed keyboard that keeps on truckin’. It’s a simple sticker that overlays your Apple Trackpad – turning it into a all-in-one mouse+keyboard input device. Brilliant! Here’s the run down of the Frogpad concept:

  • Single handed use – left or right (but keyboards are “keyed” to a particular hand so you can’t switch once you buy)
  • Studies show new users reaching speeds of 40 words per minute in 10 hours, versus the 56 hours (conservative estimate) needed for QWERTY
  • 80 percent of most commonly used words can be typed with the 15 keys that don’t require “cording” (i.e. multi-finger combos)
  • There are multiple letters/numbers/punctuation  on each key, so some “cording” is required
  • On the downside – it doesn’t have that critical “command” key for all those other killer keyboard shortcuts

When I broke my wrist and had to wear a brace for 6 months, this all seemed pretty great. The physical version of the Frogpad was the only major contendor against lefty dvorak. Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to spend 130USD on a new keyboard considering my condition was temporary.

Since then, they seem to have ceased production of all of their physical keyboards, and have started printing keyboard layouts that you can overlay on your Apple Magic Trackpad. This might suggest that they aren’t getting the traction they hoped for, but despite low levels of adoption, if you still want to give a one handed keyboard a shot, ugly-fying your trackpad with a proprietary sticker at the same time, go right ahead. The sticker and software only cost 14.99USD so it’s a pretty painless way to move beyond the clunkiness of QWERTY.

Have you tried the Frogpad? How do you rate the one-handed typing experience? How long did you take to adjust to the new letter layout?

 via ubergizmo

By Elliott Williams

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Filed under Innovation, Interfaces

Rewriting the Keyboard: Swype

If yasd;laskd;lasd;lasou have an newish Android phone, you may have already tried Swype: a text input application that promises to make typing via your touchscreen device significantly faster.

With over 50 million installs, Swype is the most popular alternative keyboard for Andriod devices. And with good reason. Swype is a gestural text-input technique specifically for touchscreen devices that represents a paradigm shift in word creation. Instead of trying to replicate the tap-tap-tap of a real world keyboard, you just trace your finger over the keys – just like joining the dots –  linking letters to form words in one fluid motion.

Swype

While there is a learning curve, Swype is a lot more intuitive then you might expect. It adds a space automatically after each word and includes robust auto-correct and text prediction features — de riguer in QWERTY-based keyboard these days. It also includes some neat gestures like moving the traced line above the keyboard to automatically capitalise a letter. And you have the choice of tapping or swyping.

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It is also possible to personalise your Swype experience, from choosing how often the suggestion box appears to setting the balance between speed and accuracy. It may take a while before you find a setting you’re comfortable with but it’s uplifting that such a wide range of options are offered.

But it ain’t perfect. It does require an intimate and intuitive knowledge of the QWERTY key order. And because you’re supposed to maintain contact with the screen while swyping, your finger obscures a sizable chunk of the keyboard – so you can’t always see where your finger should be heading next. And because you swype across a range of letters enroute to your desired letter, the text prediction isn’t always on the money – especially within the “U I O” letter cluster. The larger tablet version is pretty tiresome as your finger has to travel greater distances to complete each word.

It also raises a critical question – in creating Swype, the developers are relegating us from 10-finger texting to just one. Is single digit dexterity really a step forward?

Is Swype as good as it gets?

Could it be improved with a key layout optimised to reduce the tedious horizontal scrubbing back and forth?

Could we increase both speed and accuracy with a more intuitive keyboard layout?

4,256 Comments

Filed under Innovation, Interfaces, Mobile