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efficient touch screen input?

  • Started by ghen
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The 9 tap letters account for 71% of English text.  With 18 tap letters, you may go up to something like 92%, but will it be worth the additional complexity?  I don't mind swiping for "W", instead of thinking where it is again, on my one vs. two handed layout.

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Concerning the space: Transparency is supposed to work with this which means it can take very little space by floating above whatever you're writing on (and you can make it just a grid which means it won't be in the way if you want to once you know the letter positions).

Yes, I do agree that in landscape mode a proper 2×3×3 setup should be better. But then you'd have to learn one layout for portrait and another for layout mode which would raise the bar and probably be downright unattractive to many! I know that I'm happy typing in the current landscape mode with duplicate ABC pads, and I wouldn't want to bother learning another layout just to coax out a couple of WPM from landscape mode exclusively.

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DreymaR said:

floating above whatever you're writing on

Can you direct me to this setting?  I can't seem to find it anywhere.  (I think this was why I never adopted transparency, since afaik it would just displace everything above it anyway, so didn't see much point).

Last edited by lalop (08-Apr-2013 10:25:44)
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That's why I said "is supposed to work"... on my Android device at least, transparency doesn't work at all. As long as the layout just displaces everything at the bottom of the screen then the transparency setting is indeed, as you point out, pretty pointless.

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It seems to depend on each app individually, whether it will display anything "under" the transparent keyboard or not.  Eg. it will work with Chrome, but not with the Memo app.  This is limited by the app, not by MessagEase...

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I know windowed apps are certainly possible (e.g. super video); that sucks if android limits the keyboard apps from being so.

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I've been thinking more about minuum.  They essentially said (and I hope they're not lying) that we'd be able to design our own layout.

A good autocorrect on a one-dimensional keyboard seems promising: you'd be able to touch-type just by remembering approximately where on the line each letter is.  Probably the most newbie-friendly starting layout would be, not QWERTY, but rather the age-old:

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

since most native speakers already have a good idea how deep each letter is.  This layout is also serendipitous in that it spaces out the vowels reasonably well.  I can see it becoming widely adopted for those reasons alone.

Can we do better?  The most important goal is to provide a good layout for autocorrect, and preferrably one that allows for significant thumb-alternation.  (Unfortunately, those two goals may already be less-than-compatible, since having all the vowels next to each other, like in dvorak, is apparently bad for autocorrect.)

This would require a different sort of optimization, I think: we want to put the letters most likely to be "next" away from each other.  What I mean is: if for sake of argument, "ca" was the most common opening used, and "car" and "cat" are the most common completing letters, then we want to space the r and t far away from each other to avoid confusion.

I'm not sure if this analysis is doable (or even worth doing - for one thing, it's dependent on minuum delivering on their promises).  Just thought I'd put it out there in case anyone wanted to give it a shot.

Last edited by lalop (24-Apr-2013 10:58:36)
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From the Minuum page:

• Giving you the benefit of smart auto-correction
• Respecting your familiarity with the QWERTY keyboard so you don’t have to re-learn the keyboard layout

Sure, the QWERTY thing can be helped with a designable layout feature. But it seems to me that this keyboard is heavily dependent on auto-correction and that's a no-go for me then. If it can't be fast without guessing what I'm typing it's not for me. MessagEase delivers impressive speed and power without auto-annoyance! (I've described in a previous post why I must hate autocorrection with a vengeance, no matter how good it may be, but I'll repeat my slogan "prediction only works if you're predictable!".)

That said, I do like the idea of a single row of tap/swipe keys for pads – and probably for landscape typing on my Overly Large Phone (Galaxy Note) as well. The same keys as MessagEase uses could be adapted to such a mode, and I think Exideas have thought about it but chose not to implement it yet at least to avoid confusion. If you recycle the keys from the 3×3(+1) pad into a 1×12 key row you have it, and the fact that you're now typing with all your fingers offsets the loss of proximity between keys. Of course, a layout more like my Colemakoid/QWERTYoid (or a Dvorak-based one) for MessagEase would also give itself to consideration in such a case!

The questions are whether it can be fast and accurate (I think it can), and whether it's too much of a hassle to learn (I think it wouldn't if you recycle your knowledge of either the 3×3 layout or Colemak/QWERTY/Dvorak).

Last edited by DreymaR (24-Apr-2013 08:47:48)

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A predictable reply from Dreymar!

I'm a fan of text entry aids - including predictive text.  The A-Z list reminds me of the way Dasher works.

http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher/

Basically with Dasher you can do text entry with a single directional pointer - joystick, mouse, eye tracker etc.  I love the simplicity of the interface.  Though it's a little disorientating at first.  Having said that I'm sure it gets easier.

Simplified you start by selecting from an A-Z list of chars, the target area of some letters is increased depending on the underlying predictive mechanism.  So if you entered 'c' followed by 'a' , there would most likely be a big whopping 't' for you to glide to next.

I would have thought that you could borrow (and contribute to) the underlying libraries if you wanted to build something yourself.  I've always wondered what you could do with an additional pointer with dasher.  It could be  a mod layer, or something else, that could only make Dasher faster.

Last edited by pinkyache (24-Apr-2013 09:34:38)

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I don't foresee that a typing techinque that depends strongly on you reading the next letter before typing it can be fast enough? So the big whooping 't' sliding into place would probably be just too damn slow, I think? We're competing with 60–80 WPM here (although I never managed above 43 WPM myself).

Good joke, btw – if a bit ... dare I say it ... predictable? :)

Last edited by DreymaR (24-Apr-2013 10:13:21)

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Fleksy beta for android is now available: https://plus.google.com/communities/100 … 1411427770

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to take input from anywhere on the screen like the full-app version (though this has the advantage of not being a full app).  Also seems to be qwerty-only.


Edit: drag down with two fingers to make it invisible, then just blindtype everything.

Last edited by lalop (31-May-2013 07:34:51)
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EAi5Hxoovo

I wonder how much of an improvement that makes.  Definitely can't wait to try it out.

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Not wanting to be a naysayer, but this doesn't look so great.  I like the idea of not having to have such a rigid key layout.

You could easily end up with a crook neck pretty quickly - because inevitably you'll glance at it.

Your fingers obscure the screen.  If you could actually take the touch surface away from the tablet it might have more mileage.  Interesting the idea of using the accelerometer to track vibration.   I wonder if you could use something similar to calibrate an input method off of the tablet, say on the desk.

Typing on a flat surface isn't the easiest thing in the world.  You would have to learn to be quite gentle.

I wonder if you could do anything with the upcoming watches, I wonder if they have sensors in them.

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lalop said:

The most important goal is to provide a good layout for autocorrect, and preferrably one that allows for significant thumb-alternation.  (Unfortunately, those two goals may already be less-than-compatible, since having all the vowels next to each other, like in dvorak, is apparently bad for autocorrect.)

This would require a different sort of optimization, I think: we want to put the letters most likely to be "next" away from each other.  What I mean is: if for sake of argument, "ca" was the most common opening used, and "car" and "cat" are the most common completing letters, then we want to space the r and t far away from each other to avoid confusion.

I'm not sure if this analysis is doable (or even worth doing - for one thing, it's dependent on minuum delivering on their promises).  Just thought I'd put it out there in case anyone wanted to give it a shot.

Having tested my speed on touchscreen devices with Dvorak and QWERTY, I can confirm that Dvorak thumb typing is slower for me, even if in theory I'd expect it to be faster due to the frequent alternation of thumbs. (Note: I use the left thumb for spacebar and backspace to balance the right sidedness of the layout.)

Lalop is right - on QWERTY letters are more spread out across the rows which helps the autocorrect correctly guess which keys you meant to press. On Dvorak most typing is done on the homerow and vowels are clustered together which is actually bad for autocorrect. So I have to type more accurately on Dvorak whereas on QWERTY I'm confident that the autocorrect will take care of my mess and I just tap away as fast as I can. In this sense QWERTY is already somewhat optimised for touch screens with high speed relying on autocorrect, unless you buy some sort of tactile overlay to help accuracy (Touchfire for iPad etc).

I recently found a paper describing a new layout called QWERTH which is a layout designed precisely for better autocorrection and accuracy. As with T9 it assigns multiple letters to single keys so that size of the keys can be increased which improves typing accuracy. It also separates "badgrams" to make it more autocorrect friendly. It doesn't appear to be on the Android Play Store yet though.

T9-QWERTY - my port of T9 to the PC (a work in progress); T9-MOUSE - COMING SOON
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Update: MessagEase keeps getting better and better. Now it's been pushed to an impressive 88 WPM without word prediction! In addition to champion ChengWei, there are several other MessagEase users in the 60+ WPM category. Wow. I'm still a slowpoke in the 40+ group, but I love it.

The new version 9 has the possibility of using Ctrl/Alt/Esc keys in addition to Tab! So you can remote-control your server neatly.

I wish there were a MessagEase app for Galaxy Gear. A match made in heaven, if you ask me... :)

Last edited by DreymaR (31-Dec-2013 14:44:19)

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Esc works with vim touch!

A little annoying how it also requires swiping back, though (unlike Ctrl, Alt), for a key used all the time.  Think I'm going to send an email suggesting we be allowed to set command key movements.  Any tricks for shortening it I might not know about?

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Esc is Ctrl+[, but that's not shorter, also a nice-ish drag+return move though. :-)

I use the new Ctrl and Esc keys all the time (with Connectbot SSH to Linux systems), it's really great.  The only Ctrl combination that does not work for me is Ctrl+I for Tab.  It must be an Android shortcoming, the regular Tab key (T+downright+return) does not work either.

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Continuing from the Hand Alternation thread:

shaaniqbal said:

A T9-MessagEase type hybrid could make for a very potent combination, I think. The dragging for letters would fill the role of unambiguous input, while an ambiguous tapping mode would be used for extremely high speed.

There's something similar to that, minus dragging: Snapkeys.  Between predictions and learning curve I wasn't really able to get into it, but with your repertoire it seems like something you might give a shot.

It looks like they've replaced the original layout with an alphabetical and QWERTY-based one.

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Does it have speed and comfort? People doing 60+ WPM with it and recommending its feel should be the very least to expect.

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Holy shit! Just came upon a very promising, customizable keyboard:

Multiling O Keyboard

It advertises being able to create your own layout, though I haven't found out how yet. With any luck, we should eventually be able to create our own swipe/tap hybrid layouts without all of messagease's arbitrary restrictions. 

Two-handed ME ftw!

Last edited by lalop (13-Jan-2014 04:12:23)
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA6ey1SzHdM

Heh, could be actual usecase for minuum.

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The Minuum form factor sits well on a smart watch. What I wish for is a transparent full-screen MessagEase; that way you see the whole screen while typing on the whole screen – and there's really no space to waste on those smart watches! The downside is that while touching the screen you cover up what you're typing, but I think that's an acceptable concession.

Last edited by DreymaR (22-Jan-2014 08:58:52)

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Another ME alternative, I suppose:

http://www.androidpolice.com/2014/01/30 … do-either/

Heh, they have TH as a key.

Last edited by lalop (31-Jan-2014 07:32:35)
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I did try it (IIRC), but the feel wasn't as good as ME. Maybe if the implementation were better.

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I stumbled onto this thread about a week ago and was pretty taken by MessageEase, and I still am. I did a small amount of googling thereafter just to see if anything else existed that was worthy of taking the place of "BEST KEYBOARD EVAR" on my Android, and I'm surprised this was never mentioned here. Just search "KALQ" to find it in the Store (I'm not sure who published the unofficial version or why). I've left MessageEase for one-handed typing, and KALQ for two, but before I really start practicing I was wondering what you all think of it.

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