MesagEase Keyboard

Posted by pulkomandy on Sat Apr 1 13:28:43 2017  •  Comments (0)  • 

I recently gave up on using my old "phonebooth" dumb-phones and switched to… a 10 year old Galaxy S. What an upgrade!

I of course updated it to CyanogenMod, which runs quite well on this device and allows me to get a reasonably "recent" Android version (4.4, which is old, but still compatible with most apps).

Anyway, the main problem with that phone was the keyboard. I was never very good at typing with the numeric keyboard on old phones, but for some time I have been using a Nokia phone with a physical keyboard, which was quite nice. While the tocuhscreen-keyboard on Android makes place for a much larger display, which is a very good thing, it has awfully small keys and no feedback. It also tries to auto-correct me in a way that is sometimes useful, sometimes not correcting obvious mistakes, but also sometimes trying to correct where it really shouldn't or when I'm already trying to correct myself.

As you may know, the QWERTY layout was designed as a workaround for mechanical limitations of early typewriters. There is no reason at all to continue to use it today on physical keyboards, and even less on smartphone virtual ones. Surely, there had to be something better!

After some research, I found the MessagEase keyboard. It is, as expected, an input replacement for Android. The keyboard has just 9 keys, but each of them has 9 chars depending on the gesture you make. It is easy to learn (even if at first you have to do a bit of hunt and peck), and allows quite fast typing. It also has some interesting features, for example the keyboard can be made partially transparent, so you can still see a little of what's under it (not all applications put something under it, but some do). It is also very configurable (you can move characters around on the keyboard and change many other settings).

After a few days of training, I can type at a reasonable speed, and much less typos than with the normal keyboard. So this is something I would recommend to everyone using their phone display as a keyboard. Forget about QWERTY before it is too much hardwired into your muscle memory there!

Now, I need to compare this with Graffiti, which is now available on Android. I remember using that in the Palm days, but I didn't do a lot of writing with it, so I don't remember how fast it could go. Also, using it without a stylus will probably be quite different. But, I should give it a try and see what happens.

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