Text Entry Apps (Part 2) : Keyboard 2, Tiki Notes, Quick Words, Typewalking, Fleksy

2/6/2013 6:08:04 PM

Keyboard 2 69p

If you want your keyboard big, Keyboard 2 will give you big: the full size of your iOS screen, in fact. Of course, this raises the question of where your text is going to appear. The somewhat awkward solution: it appears overlaid on top of the keyboard.

Naturally, this leads to two problems. It’s hard to see where the letters are, since there’s text on top of them, and you can’t select the text without first hiding the keyboard. It then pops back into view again when you tap the text, so you need to be accurate with your selection.

A wacky idea, not fully thought out, but interesting.


Tiki Notes Free

Here the alphabet is divided into four (and a bit) buttons, with six letters on each button. Two more buttons add punctuation, while Shift, Space, Delete and numbers are provided separately below.

To type a letter, you tap the relevant button and all six buttons are magically replaced by the letters on that one, in the same arrangement; then you drag to the letter you want, and it’s entered. If the letter is in the same place as you first tapped, you just tap again to type it. It’s a straightforward and reasonably usable system to learn.

Description: Tiki Notes

Where Tiki Notes really scores is in its predictive ability. Start a new note, and buttons bearing the words T, The’ and ‘If’ appear - the most common beginnings. Type ‘Tiki Notes attempts’, for example, and the buttons then show the words ‘to’, ‘will’ and ‘at’; choose ‘to’, and the buttons change to ‘get’, ‘make’ and ‘find’. It’s a clever, well thought-out system that can save a lot of typing.

An entertaining game is not to type anything in particular but just follow Tiki’s suggestions, leading to sentences like: ‘The original message may contain information about the list of members of your order, but if anyone else has been checked for viruses by the Government, take the time to meet up.’ Do they know something we don’t?

Quick Words 69p

Description: Quick Words

Quick Words provides buttons that store frequent phrases - ‘What’s up?’, ‘Bye for now’, and so on. You can also create your own sets for those you often send - ‘I’m on the train’, ‘Running a little late’or‘Sorry I forgot your birthday again’. It’s useful for sending quick texts when you’re on the run, but using the Twitter export function will surely lead to a loss of followers and possibly being reported as aspambot.

Typewalking 69p

Description: Typewalking

This app gives you a conventional touchscreen keyboard, but overlaid on a live view from your device’s camera, the idea being that you can type while walking down the street. Cute, if a little daft.

If the idea appeals, you might also want to check out Type While Walking, Type n Walk, Type and Walk, and just about every other combination of these words you can think of for alternative versions of the same thing. You’ll still bump into people, though.

Fleksy $4.2

Fleksy is an unusual text editor, in that it’s designed for people with partial or no sight. We’ll be returning to this area of accessibility aids in a later issue, but for the purposes of this roundup we were interested to see how the app worked and whether it could be of general assistance regardless of the user’s vision - for example, when trying to type while keeping the screen out of sight, or while looking at something else.

Fleksy’s approach is unique. It divides the screen in half: the top half shows what you’ve typed, and the bottom half shows just the uppercase alphabet in three bold rows, using the standard QWERTY layout. You type by stabbing with your thumb at the approximate location of the character you’re looking for. Swipe right to complete a word and Fleksy will speak the word out loud to you. (Headphones will help here if you’re tweeting from a conference or cinema, say.)

This is where it really gets clever. Fleksy calculates the most likely word you wanted from the iOS dictionary, based on the proximity of your taps to the letters you might have been aiming for. It will, of course, frequently guess the wrong word - but you can swipe up or down to cycle through the rest of its suggestions, and it’ll speak each one to you. In our example, while it guessed ‘unusual’ straight away, it also suggested ‘initial’, ‘illegal’, ‘uniform’, ‘improve’, ‘crucial’ and ‘unequal’.

Swipe right again to insert an extra space and, just as with regular iOS text entry, Fleksy will insert a full stop. Except that you can now swipe up and down to replace this with a comma, question mark, exclamation mark, apostrophe, colon or semicolon. To undo a mistake, swipe left and Fleksy not only deletes the unwanted word or punctuation mark, it also speaks the object it’s deleting. To enter an unknown word, such as ‘Macllser’, hold each letter and it’ll speak it to you. When the word is completed, you can swipe up to add it to the dictionary.

To type numbers, tap and hold the lower left of the screen and a large keypad appears. Each number is read aloud after you type it: swiping up or down will increase or decrease the value. A double swipe right inserts a space, but you can swipe up or down to change this to a decimal point or other arithmetic symbol.

Fleksy has a few rough edges: you can’t make it read aloud the whole text you’ve written; you can’t copy, SMS or email the text without also clearing it; and there’s an irritating introductory notice each time you start up. But it’s an ingenious and thoroughly workable solution. It does depend on you developing a good memory of where the characters are in a QWERTY layout, but any touch-typist will have this. Try the free app, which disables the export function, to see how it feels before upgrading.

When you first start typing on your iPhone, you may be at pains to do so as slowly and carefully as possible. But you really don’t need to hunt and peck to hit each ‘key* precisely. First, the area that makes contact with the screen is much smaller than your whole fingertip, so you can be more accurate than you expect without really trying.

Second, even if you get it wrong, iOS will look at the characters you’ve typed and replace an unknown word with the closest match in its dictionary, taking into account the proximity of letters on the keyboard. Type ‘jryvists’, for example, and your iPhone will cheerfully correct it to ‘keyboard’, unfazed by you having mistyped every single letter.

To accept the correction as it pops up, just keep typing} to reject it, tap it. To go back and fix a wrong correction later, double tap the word and choose ‘Suggest’.

The iPhone automatically adds names from your Contacts to its dictionary. If there’s another unusual word you use frequently, you can add it to a custom list, so iOS autocorrects to it and not some near-miss word. In Settings, go to General / Keyboard / Add Few Shortcut and type in the word you want. You can also add a custom abbreviation, which is particularly useful for URLs and email addresses} you might set the shortcut ‘mu’ to expand to ‘’, say.

If you prefer to use a third-party text entry app, remember Apple doesn’t allow these to replace the default keyboard. So it’ll always mean entering text in a separate app, from which you’ll then usually be able to copy and paste, email, SMS, Facebook or tweet it.

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