In case you haven't noticed, the replacement keyboard world is getting crowded. There is an abundance of quality options users can opt for if they are not satisfied with the stock keyboard that came with their phones. In most cases, these are already strong and effective. HTC, for example, has done a very good job fashioning a keyboard for the EVO 4G and EVO 3D that is leaps and bounds more useful than the stock Android flavor. That being said, I have not driven my stock keyboard for over a year now.
A few weeks ago, G&E covered the impending TouchPal beta that was soon to be available and that testers were wanted. I managed to get in on the fun and have been able to gather some initial impressions regarding how this keyboard behaves on my EVO 3D.
For the moment, it is nowhere near enough to unseat SwiftKey X as my keyboard of choice. The developer (Cootek) knows that they have a work in progress and have urged beta testers and reviewers to withhold judgement at least until they've worked with the beta 2 version. So what I have here are, again, only initial impressions. I'll provide a much more in-depth review of the next version they cook up.
In a perfect world, TouchPal can carve out a niche for itself by blending the best of Swype and SwiftKey X into one beast of a keyboard, one that has a world-class prediction engine but also the luxury of swiping gestures to speed the process along.
To do so, Cootek has a lot of ground to cover before releasing beta 2. For now, the "Swype-like" text entry is hit and miss. The keys are somewhat small in landscape mode. This is odd given the amount of screen available on the EVO products. So far, the prediction engine seems strong, though not as robust as the one that drives SwiftKey X's results.
I have yet to find the "blind typing" feature on this beta, which was probably the element I was most excited about. If you missed it before, you can see it in action in the promotional video below. One thing I am a big fan of is the easily accessible arrow keys and operations buttons (copy, paste, etc.) that can possibly simplify these functions for EVO users.
One of the legacy features from their earlier applications is the swipe up/swipe down capability. For example, instead of simply pressing the "Q" key, swipe up on it to enter the uppercase character and swipe down to enter a "1." This is likely to be a huge time-saving feature. One note on it is that the feature only works consistently when the curve function is turned off.
So that's about all there is to report at this stage. While other sites may hasten out some fully baked reviews of the keyboard, we will reserve judgement and just let you know that the keyboard does seem like it has the potential to become a viable option. Personally, I am very excited to see what they are able to do with their beta 2.
We'd love it if anyone else who is testing the beta would post their feedback here for other EVO users to benefit.[TouchPal]