One of my initial dislikes of the T-Mobile G1 Android handset was the lack of an on-screen, or soft keyboard. Yes, the G1 has a hardware keyboard, but it was difficult to see in mid- to low-light. You can mitigate that by getting the black G1 instead of the bronze one, but there’s an even bigger issue. Each and every time you want to enter any text on the G1, you must turn it sideways and slide the keyboard out before even starting. There’s simply no way to enter text when holding the phone in standard, portrait mode.
Just after the G1 launch, we heard that Google would address this deficiency by adding an on-screen keyboard to complement the touchscreen and the first video I’ve seen of it is above, courtesy of Talk Android. You can only see the alphabetic keyboard, but I see a button for numeric entry and one for punctuation as well. Often with a soft keyboard, it’s difficult to tell which key you’re actually pressing, so Google has a floating pop-up to above your finger to show you which key is being touched.
It looks pretty usable so far, although we don’t have much to go on yet. My hope is that Google implements a system similar to that of Apple. Keyboards on the iPhone and iPod Touch platform predict what possible letters you might type next based on the letters you’ve already typed. Using that information, it actually expands the area around the predicted keys so your finger can be slightly off and yet the device will pick up the correct key.