The Best Onscreen Keyboard For Android
I've had my Mytouch 3g for a few month now. Overall, i like the smart phone. I've gotten use to the phone except for one thing. They keyboard sucks! The Android 1.6 keyboard is terrible. So terrible, it's terribad. I constantly make mistakes and the dictionary does an okay job of fixing it but the experience leaves me grinding my teeth in frustration. Did I mention I hate the keyboard?
Having experienced a G1 and the physical keyboard, I was envious of the awesome design. The keys were tactile and comfortable. The frustration of a touch screen keyboard made me contemplate buying another phone! I eventually realized that no onscreen keyboard could be the accuracy and speed of a physical one.
On my quest to fix the problems I was experiencing, I found some keyboards on the Android Marketplace!
$2.99 for Better Keyboard? Get the fck outa here! People actually pay money for it? It only has a 4 star rating? Pass.
My first alternative for an "aftermarket" keyboard was AnySoftKeyboard (ASK). I thought ASK would make my Mytouch 3g a more enjoyable experience but it made it worse. A good thing about ASK is that I am able to resize the keyboard. I resized the keyboard so that it takes 60% of the screen in portrait view. This should make it easier to use right? Well, a little. I suppose it was a bit easier to use but when I resized the keyboard, the keys did not adjust properly leaving some empty spaces. I can best describe it as increasing text size in your internet browser. You ever want to make the text bigger in Firefox? Go to View>Zoom>check "zoom text only" and click "zoom in." This seems to best way to describe the scaling of ASK.
The deal breaker that turned me off from ASK was it's terrible dictionary. Misspelling a word becomes a nightmare. Instead of improving on the Android keyboard, it made the stock keyboard look better! The dictionary that comes with ASK is bad. When you have to retype 1 word for every sentence, it really makes typing frustrating.
Being a TMobile customer, I got this magazine completely dedicated to the Mytouch. Sweet. In the issue, they review apps on the Android marketplace and there was a feature about a new keyboard called "Swype," Reading closer, it says it will be coming soon. Curious, I search the Android marketplace and returned no results.
The seed was planted.
One thing lead to another. So swype wasn't available. Am I going to wait? Hell no! I quickly found an alternative. It's called ShapeWriter keyboard. They look almost the same. Time to install and find out.
After I installed ShapeWriter, I disabled ASK and enabled Shapewriter for my typing test. My first time "typing" with it was strange. It's a weird feeling at first. Traditionally, if you want to type "the", you would hit "t", "h", and "e". With ShapeWriter, you would hit "t" and while still pressing down on the screen, move to "h" and "e" to finish it off. It feels like a game of connect the dots. It's pretty cool!
The accuracy was pretty good too. I was pleasantly surprised. You do need to add curse words like f u c.... ahem. That's okay. I didn't mind adding swears and slang. It wasn't a big deal to me.
This is a portrait keyboard. The landscape version wastes a big area to the left and it uses that space for the suggestions. One problem I've notice is the capitalization. You cannot capitalize a single letter at a time. This makes entering case sensative passwords impossible.
Better Than Standard
So far I am enjoying this keyboard. It has improved my typing speed dramatically. I am still in awe of how cool it is. I've read that swype is much more accurate and I will definitely try it once it is released.
If you are in the market for a cool improvement over the original Android keyboard, look into ShapeWriter or Swype. Shapewriter is free!
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