Ah…after watching this new video on the iPhone keyboard, I’m understanding where the true innovation comes from. Give it a look-see for yourself and see if you walk away just a bit more impressed like I did. I wasn’t sold on a virtual keyboard having used […]


Ah…after watching this new video on the iPhone keyboard, I’m understanding where the true innovation comes from. Give it a look-see for yourself and see if you walk away just a bit more impressed like I did. I wasn’t sold on a virtual keyboard having used one on many Windows Mobile devices as well as some UMPCs, but in typical Apple fashion, they’ve brought innovation to text input. There are several aspects of note, but the one that really got me was using the predictive text system in combination with the keyboard touch sensor.

As you’re typing a word, the iPhone is working in the background to predict the next keystrokes. You won’t see it, but the keyboard actually widens the input sensor area around the next most likely keys so that your fingers can be off by a bit, but you still get the key you want. The above shot shows the input area of the "E" key after typing the "tim" of the word "time". This hasn’t swayed me to get an iPhone, but it does address one of the concerns I had. Excellent innovation….

(via Engadget)

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  1. I’ve been using a Motorola A1200 for over a year now and it uses a on screen touch keyboard as well. It was engineered in China and that is my explanation for the issues with its predictive keyboard entry (it guesses the most likely word for you as you type). But after a month or so of correcting it the phone “went native” and I’ve been happy with it ever since.

    All the WM users seem to gloss over how many awful WM’s there were (by various names that had to be well deservedly retired) before Microsoft got to where they are now. For there to be so many positive reviews for a first generation cell phone offering is I think the most remarkable aspect of the iPhone.

    I’ll be standing in line Friday.

  2. >>>This hasn’t swayed me to get an iPhone,

    Have you had a neurological MRI recently? I think you might have a tumor… or a cyst…

  3. I was similarly impressed with the video demo. I’m still skeptical, and Walt Mossberg pointed out in his review that it took him about 5 days to get used to the keyboard.

    But it probably took me at least that long to get used to Windows Mobile letter recognizer. I got pretty fast with TenGo within a few days.

    Given how quickly folks came out with programs that mimic the iPhone UI for Windows Mobile, I hope someone takes the much more useful step of developing an on-screen keyboard that takes advantage of some of these innovations. I don’t know if they’d have to license the technology from Apple or what, but I’d love to see that kind of predictive text/keyboard sensitivity on a Windows Mobile device.

  4. I didn’t see the QuickTime video but it sounds like there will be all sorts of problems with strings not in the dictionary. Expect to see fewer screen names such as timw or timr.

    It will be interesting to have a speed contest between people experienced with the Vista version of the TIP and people experienced with the iPhone. If the iPhone approach works better it would be nice to see that on Vista as well.

    I look forward to seeing the video once Apple releases a Vista version of QuickTime or I find myself using an XP machine or a Macintosh. Hopefully getting the iPhone out the door will allow folks at Apple time to get over to BestBuy and buy a copy of Vista for testing purposes so they don’t need to ask for help from users at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/. It would be good if they got a Vista version of QuickTime out before Sunday, which marks 5 months since Vista was available in regular stores.

  5. Actually there are more information about the typing/dictionary on pogues blog: http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/
    Pretty cool function: The dictionnary learns new words… and forget them if they’re not re-used! That’s smart :)

  6. Predictive text is nothing new. I really love Tengo Thumb on my pocket pc, which is very similar. I think what Apple is bringing that is new is the multi-touch display. On a pocketPC the X / Y location is determined by the touch sensor hardware, and you only get one point. With multi-touch the software can get all the points of contact and do it’s own averaging to determine ‘what you meant to press’. Combined with prediction and an adaptive dictionary, you can do some cool stuff.

    I’d still have to try it for myself though. A 3.5″ screen in portrait just doesn’t leave much room for qwerty as all of us with PocketPCs and attest.

  7. What he said. The touchscreens on WM devices just don’t work nearly well enough if you mash a big fat finger on there. With a stylus, great, but not with the touch point spread out over a bigger area. You’d need to replace the touchscreen entirely most likely to get it to work really well with a finger. Just look at the HTC Touch demo(s), you see them pressing several times more than once, and finally pushing pretty hard to get the fingerprint to register. That would get mighty old mighty fast.

    To say nothing about how WM phones have big gaping gaps between the casing and the screen in most cases, and if you wipe to the sides you are wiping some of the gunk in between the screen and casing. That is almost guaranteed to come back and bite you in the butt later when the oils and other gunk from ones hands builds up in there. The screens just aren’t meant to be touched with skin.

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