Alternative input methods for smart phones

March 28, 2014

Alternative input methods for smart phones, such as Swype and SwiftKey, offer substantial benefits to users and are comparable with common typing speeds found on computer keyboards, according to a report published by researchers at Loughborough University. Writing in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Design Research, Tom Page, a lecturer in electronic product design, has assessed a number of different text input technologies available to smart phone users.

Page reports how interaction design has become central to the development of small touch screen devices, particularly since the launch of the Apple iPhone in 2007. Moreover, many users now have a smart phone mindset and treat their device in much the same way previous users worked with a laptop but with much greater portability. As such, rapid text input methods has become essential for making as efficient as they once were with typing on a laptop keyboard.

"In essence, smart phone interfaces today have been designed in completely different ways as users are starting or seeking to replace laptops and computers with small screen highly portable devices," Page says, Indeed, more people are becoming more proficient at creating, engaging, communicating and interacting via the smart phone screen.

There are various text input methods on smart phones, including adaptation of the QWERTY layout that has been familiar to typists since the 19th century. Other more ergonomic soft keyboard layouts such as DVORAK and ABCDE apparently improve typing comfort and speed, but many users and developers believes that these ought to be consigned to history in this era of small screens and broadband communications. Other text input methods such as: OPTI, 8pen, Swiftkey, Swype, Keypurr and thick buttons exist and are gently nudging QWERTY and its derivatives off-screen and giving users much faster and more accurate text input methods.

"Fundamentally, the success or failure of any new interactive technology or text input method such as soft keyboards is determined by its usability," says Page. "The ergonomic aspects of soft keyboard typing on a smart phone differ greatly from their physical counterpart," he adds. This is why alternatives more suited to the mall screen than QWERTY or ABCDE are needed. Page laments the fact that smart phones have been rapidly advancing technologically over the last few years but their approach to has lagged behind. Even the apps that claim to accelerate input and sidestep the traditional keyboard often rely on user familiarity with QWERTY nevertheless.

There is much research and development yet to be done with touch screens themselves and the text and other input technologies need to make even more ubiquitous and useful.

Explore further: Text in on smarter phones

More information: "Usability of text input interfaces in smartphones" in J. Design Research, 2013, 11, 39-56

Related Stories

Text in on smarter phones

May 22, 2013

Alternative input methods for smart phones, such as Swype and SwiftKey, offer substantial benefits to users and are comparable with common typing speeds found on computer keyboards, according to a report published by researchers ...

Google rolls its own keyboard app for Android 4.0 and up

June 6, 2013

(Phys.org) —Google Maps, Google Drive, Google This, Google That….But there is always room for one more new arrival from Google, and now it is in the form of an app called Google Keyboard. Available at the Google Play ...

Georgia Tech develops braille-like texting app (w/ video)

February 17, 2012

Imagine if smartphone and tablet users could text a note under the table during a meeting without anyone being the wiser. Mobile gadget users might also be enabled to text while walking, watching TV or socializing without ...

Recommended for you

'Droneboarding' takes off in Latvia

January 22, 2017

Skirted on all sides by snow-clad pine forests, Latvia's remote Lake Ninieris would be the perfect picture of winter tranquility—were it not for the huge drone buzzing like a swarm of angry bees as it zooms above the solid ...

Singapore 2G switchoff highlights digital divide

January 22, 2017

When Singapore pulls the plug on its 2G mobile phone network this year, thousands of people could be stuck without a signal—digital have-nots left behind by the relentless march of technology.

Making AI systems that see the world as humans do

January 19, 2017

A Northwestern University team developed a new computational model that performs at human levels on a standard intelligence test. This work is an important step toward making artificial intelligence systems that see and understand ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Eikka
not rated yet Apr 19, 2014
The difference of QWERTY or Dvorak etc. on a cellphone is meaningless because you can't touch-type on a touchscreen.

Which is ironic.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.