After yesterdays big announcements from Apple’s conference, we see one of the new features that will be available this Fall for the iPad which is already available for Android tablets. Thumb Keyboard has been out for some time now, but I’ve put it through its paces to see how it stacks up to the default Honeycomb keyboards. Hit the jump to see my thoughts.
Thumb Keyboard is a flexible keyboard that introduces a revolutionary and innovative “split” layout for Tablets and Phones. A layout that makes thumb-typing easier, more natural and more comfortable. Besides that it is also a standard keyboard with many features one will not find on a regular keyboard. Essentially, the goal is to make typing on your tablet much more user friendly. As someone that has extremely large hands, there are plenty of times I still have to reach towards the middle of the screen to type with my thumbs. The extra width of the XOOM makes this feat more difficult than need be. It has a ton of features and customizations, so if you want the full rundown, I suggest checking it out in the market.
If you’re interested in this completely revolutionary way of tablet typing, you have to understand that there is a learning curve. Touchscreen keyboards have followed the default hardware keyboards for some time now, and this greatly breaks with tradition. The QWERTY layout is still there, but it’s split in two. When I first went through the settings to use this, I couldn’t stand it. It was awkward, difficult and extremely slow. My eyes would pace back and forth from left to right and back to the left. Numbers and some symbols were in the middle of the screen, but are also accessible in two other ways. There are two space bars, and even a voice input button for speech to text.
Not only are these all in the default settings, but you have options galore in the menu. Haptic feedback, check. Vibration strength for haptic feedback, check. Key popup feedback, check. Different themes, check. Keyboard dimensions, layout, text prediction, cursor keys, long press delay interval options, check ’em all off because they’re all here. This is full featured and completely customizable and sticks to everything Android stands for.
So after this slightly overwhelming period in the beginning, you start to naturally feel for the keyboard. Again, this doesn’t happen overnight as you’re fighting all of your normal reactions for typing. However, after some time typing, and some patience, you start to realize how much nicer it is to type this way. No longer do you have to reach with your thumbs, or lay your tablet on your lap, but rather you hold it just like you normally would and comfortably type away. Your thumbs fall into much more of a natural location than what they’ve become accustomed to with such a wide tablet, or even in portrait mode. You realize it’s a no brainer as to why Apple is
copying using this method in iOS 5.
This is the best typing solution on any tablet yet. Thumb Keyboard is a fresh and completely revolutionary method for text input. It really becomes a joy to use, and not only that, but there is a sense of accomplishment when you get the hang of it. However, this isn’t a keyboard for your Grandmother to get used to. It’s too radical and too different for that. Rather, it’s for tablet users who have the desire to learn a new method which will greatly improve their text input experience. And at $2.54, it’s a steal from the Android Market.
Android Market $2.54