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efficient touch screen input?

  • Started by ghen
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KALQ only uses tapping, right? The power of MessagEase comes from a sensible usage of both taps and drags, with optimized placement of a few large keys. One proof of that pudding is the fact that the world's fastest texting without completion has been accomplished on MessagEase. My guess is that KALQ has no competitive claims of this sort?

I use MessagEase two-handed. I think Ghen still uses one thumb and he's way faster than me but it's mostly about the person. Cheng-Wei (the aforementioned champ) has mentioned using other fingers as he feels they are faster than the thumbs. Not sure what he actually uses nowadays but I heard him talk about a three-finger approach I think.

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DreymaR said:

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.

Impressive. I wish MessagEase had an option for autocorrect, that would make it even faster. I do use the English dictionary add on but it's not as good as it could be at guessing what you meant and I want to just press the spacebar and have it autocorrect. The macros would also be good if it worked in this way, easy typing of shorthand. I also use "Turbo mode" so it only enters characters displayed on the keyboard reducing mistake slides.

Tips from Cheng Wei:

"By the way anyone tried using two thumbs yet? I am pretty fortunate cos Galaxy S3 has powerful processor and multitouch works perfectly. Let me know if you have any difficulties using two thumbs.
To achieve great speed, typing with two thumbs is essential. Cos two is definitely better than one when it comes to speed.
For a start, practice on your non-master thumb till it matches the speed of the master thumb. Having a larger than normal screen on my S3, when typing with one thumb, I usually set my keypad size smaller (not filling the whole width) so that my thumb can reach all keys without extending too much.
When typing with both thumbs, I set the size so that the width fills the whole screen width (it depends too... on the size of your device. On a tablet it is a different story, hopefully the developer can come up with keypads that are separated at a distance)

For me, my "special column containing the hand icon" is on the right. So, my left thumb covers the upper left triangle [A,N,I,H, T,O], while my right thumb covers the lower right diagonal [O,R,E,S,space and the special keys]
There are certain exceptions to the covering rule. At times, the right thumb can cover I and N too.
Also, when typing double L's, it can be quick to stroke twice using both thumbs.
There are no hard and fast rules regarding which thumb should type. Your brain adapt itself pretty quickly."

And an interview with him.

One thing I find quite annoying with sliding as opposed to tapping is sometimes my thumbs generate friction with the screen slowing me down. It gets worse after I wash my hands. This doesn't happen with all screens though, on a Galaxy S4 I'm fine.

Ghen said he uses one finger, not a thumb didn't he? He uses one hand to hold it while the index of the other types. 60 WPM with one finger and no autocorrect is impressive. The three fingered approach you mentioned sounds interesting, do you know where Cheng Wei mentions this?

Last edited by shaaniqbal (21-Mar-2014 17:49:30)

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lalop said:

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.


Thanks for the Snapkeys lead lalop. The original 4 key layout could be used for T9-Mouse.

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I use two thumbs and it's nice for me. Sometimes it's too fast in the sense that I get a slide instead of two taps when the two thumbs hit rapidly in two close spots. That's just something you have to learn to avoid I guess.

I can't remember exactly when that statement from ChengWei about trying a new technique was made; it was on Facebook some time this year iirc.

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This thread has grown so long these questions have probably already been answered, so forgive me for asking again if so.

What size device is MessagEase best suited?

Do you use thumbs or fingers or both?

I finally tried MessagEase yesterday (briefly) on a Google Nexus (7 inch?).  It wasn't that easy for me.   I did get the feeling that the device was too large for the input mechanism.  Using my thumbs on a smaller device would probably be easier to learn and use.  My hands were all over the place, it felt a little hunt and peck like, and slow going to me.  I'd forgotten that alien feeling.

Last edited by pinkyache (21-Mar-2014 16:39:24)

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I'm now using ME on a 4.7" Nexus 4, and I find it too large already.  My previous phone was a 4" (Galaxy mini 2) and that was about perfect.

I usually type with my left index finger (I'm left handed) while holding the phone in my right hand.  One handed typing, using the thumb of the hand holding the phone, is much slower for me.

Last edited by ghen (21-Mar-2014 13:41:20)
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Pinkyache: For a big device, use a split keyboard so you can reach it easily in each corner. You can set the two panes to be one letter and one number pane, but for fast typing you'll want two letter panes.

For a single keyboard, experiment with dragging the size up and down (from the hand icon). If you use multiple fingers you probably want the keyboard in the middle of the screen but otherwise you can place it to the left or right.

There's quite a lot of flexibility to play with.

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I'm playing with MessagEase split keyboard on a Nexus 7 with the split duplicate letter keyboard now. I can see the potential for speed but it's a bit funny because my eyes want to move back and forth between each pane. Keeping my eyes on one pane my other thumb seems to move to the right spot most of the time though.

MessagEase just needs to improve on how it acccommodates shorthand. I want the option for expansion to trigger with spacebar.

MessagEase + shorthand = win

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I see what you mean about wanting to follow the panes with your eyes. By now, however, I use a blind keyboard with just the homing dot on each pane; at this level the problem feels less. Usually, I only use the vertical mode on my Galaxy Note (3) though.

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How about Fleksy – has anyone tried it? Apparently, it doesn't need the ordinary kind of word prediction (although I'm not quite sure how that works) and it now has the world SMS record! Almost a whole second faster than MessagEase, wow.

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Fleksy looks like nothing more than an advanced word correction. you can type blind and like a drunk. but is it really more accurate than swype's or other word correction interfaces? i suppose it is since Fleksy holds the record for now.

i don't like to slide to type.  i've used messageease for quite a while, but never got proficient at it. probably because it demands good dexterity, which i lack. i don't like swype and other sliding layouts because the keys are spread too far apart. e.g. on qwerty to type 'apple' you have slide across from one end to the other end of the screen. that's too much effort. i might use them if the key layout were redesigned so that common letters are closer to each other so i don't have to slide all over the place.

KALQ looks like my designs for two-handed typing and split screen (I call it the "2-Thumbs-Down layout", useful for tablets and landscape mode), which I created with open-source AnySoftKeyboard. You can create any layout for it. I don't know why you need a separate app for every layout. The difference is for typing on tablet, I prefer less hand alternation and more same hand, which will reduce having to constantly look back and forth between the left and right halves. Although if you can type without looking at the screen, hand alternation may be faster.

I also noticed that KALQ puts the two space buttons in each half amidst the letters. I use the same strategy extensively in my other layouts, but not in the 2-thumbs down. I put a long space button in the middle of the screen to fit in two punctuations. I may try their method, though, and move the punctuations.

I have also tried 2-thumb typing using a staggered layout like HexaLiteral (same link above). Since the keys are close together at the middle of the screen, the two thumbs may share the same keys. That is, you can hit some keys with either hand, depending on what letters come before and after. The staggered layout makes certain groups of keys rounder. This results in: 1) more ergonomic for the thumb; 2) easier to find keys; 3) actually quite fun.

Last edited by Amuseum (11-Jul-2014 03:52:10)
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I've become more and more dubious about these "world records".  The absolute best you can say about them is that they are a (typist, keyboard) record rather than a keyboard record.  Average speed/accuracy across all users would probably be a better measurement of a keyboard's effectiveness.

AnySoftKeyboard sounds like a gem.  Can one configure it to be a MessageEase-like layout?

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lalop said:

AnySoftKeyboard sounds like a gem.  Can one configure it to be a MessageEase-like layout?

currently you can only tap a key to type. swiping to type is not implemented. it's in the works, but no ETA. however it does support swiping gestures to perform general actions like change keyboard, copy, paste, move cursor, etc. you can customize these gestures, and tweak many other stuff as well.

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How fast are most of y'all typing on ME these days? I know we have some high speed outlyers, but what's normal? I've been using it as my standard keyboard most of the time for a few weeks to try to build up some speed, and I'm still only at 22WPM That's marginally better than my speed on a plain QWERTY on-screen keyboard, but much worse than my speed on SwiftKey. Do most people who stick with it hit 30WPM? 40? Or are there not enough long-term users to know?

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I'm not a very fast typist (80 WPM on a very good day, 65–70 WPM usually); with MessagEase I do 35–45 WPM. I have no way of matching the fast ones on either platform it seems. :) I make some mistakes when I'm not concentrating, and usually type blind because it's visually pleasing.

Lalop: Those records are a proof of concept. Since people manage to type blindingly fast with QWERTY you cannot really say that it's a slow layout per se (although you can say that fast QWERTY typing may rely rather heavily on non-standard typing). MessagEase and now Fleksy have proven their mettle in this way, and with MessagEase at least it's easily seen that Cheng Wei was no solitary swallow. The current ME record is held by someone else.

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Amuseum: Thanks for the heads up.

DreymaR said:

Since people manage to type blindingly fast with QWERTY you cannot really say that it's a slow layout per se (although you can say that fast QWERTY typing may rely rather heavily on non-standard typing).

That's actually part of my concern: as jfmcbrayer laments, those records are of outliers rather than any useful measure of speed.  So long as some person - no matter how rare - is able to type blazing fast, that's what goes on the world record, regardless of how well the keyboard/layout really performs with everyone else.

In principle, I don't mind the proof-of-concept.  In practice, this particular concept lends itself to some very poor interpretations. As soon as a world record is achieved, marketing (and fans, and random people) immediately starts hyping the new recordbreaker as the "fastest keyboard".  Never mind that the data can't even distinguish whether the keyboard, or the typist, is responsible for said record.  It's very irksome.


Anyway, I don't really count as a long-term user anymore; I've been avoiding mobile wherever possible. The various setups posted here just make the computer much more enjoyable.

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It's very obvious for MessagEase judging from the number and speeds of fast ME typers (and yes, that's me in Norway) that it's not about outliers in this case, but I don't know Fleksy or the others. You're right of course, one swallow doth no summer make, but it's enough to warrant some interest for me at the least.

There have been at least 3–4 people clamoring over the first place in the ME Speed contest for quite a while. Does that make ME a fast keyboard for me as well? Indeed, it's hard to say as you point out but at least I've managed to get pretty fast with it compared to other touchscreen input methods.

Last edited by DreymaR (11-Jul-2014 12:42:47)

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DreymaR said:

It's very obvious for MessagEase judging from the number and speeds of fast ME typers (and yes, that's me in Norway) that it's not about outliers in this case

Actually, the data suggests the exact opposite.  The top score is already an outlier for the top 50 alone!  When you add in the rest of the userbase, who are most likely much slower than these top 50, many more of the top 50 (if not all) probably turn into outliers as well.

Here is a very conservative estimate of how many become outliers.  On Google Play, 2900 people rated ME with 5-stars, so I think it's safe to assume that the userbase is at least that large.  (In fact, with over 100,000 downloads, it's probably a lot larger.)  Let's assume that those 2,900 people are evenly distributed (in reality, they would probably be clumped up lower thanks to the normal distribution) as follows:

58 wpm - 100 people
57 wpm - 100 people
...
30 wpm - 100 people

In this very conservative estimate, we get:

Mean: 44.4
Standard Deviation: 8.9
Outlier if WPM > 70.9
# of Upper Outliers: 12

so yes, the top speeds being measured here are very much outliers. 

This distribution can be played with (http://pastebin.com/HNqYqaWD).  Maybe someone with stats knowledge can come up with a better estimate, but I think the writing is on the wall.


tldr: You can't use the competitiveness of a top list to deduce that none of them are outliers.  Even though the list of fastest typists may appear to be undominated, that doesn't take into account the thousands of other users who score less than all of them.  With respect to the total userbase, many (if not all) of those top 50 are outliers.

Last edited by lalop (12-Jul-2014 05:09:34)
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I asked at the MessagEase Facebook page whether they have any estimates of their typers' speed distribution, and got this reply:

MessagEase (Saied Nesbat) said:

The map entries require a minimum of 40 WPM, and therefore they are already "selected." The average and standard deviation are: 51.2WPM/12.7WPM, with the population size of ~100.

Since ME itself does not report the speed of our users (no internet permission), there is no way of getting a true speed of all of our users. But the average and standard deviation of the scores our users have posted through MessagEase Game, are: 32.7/12.0, with the population of 10k+.

While the game reporting may be biased toward higher scores (pride reporting), it is also the case that people with low speeds would not bother with MessagEase, and people with high speeds would not use and train with the game, and therefore not report their speed.

This is in part a question of what you call an outlier. In some cases, anything that's ≈3 standard deviations away from the mean may be branded an outlier. That only works if the distribution is gaussian and the deviation fairly well known, but it's a workable technical definition. I was using the word more informally here, but I probably should have used another term such as "freak occurrences". :)

As seen in the quote, the only data we do have is selected so one would expect a distribution with a lower kurtosis than the gaussian; that is, more points far away from the mean on each side.

Last edited by DreymaR (13-Jul-2014 12:21:51)

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The correspondence might be a bit iffy since mean and standard deviation seem to be with respect to reported scores while everything else is with respect to users, but 3 standard deviations above that mean is anything above 68.7 wpm, of which there are 16 people (0.16%- of the 10k+ users).  In a normal distribution, we'd expect there to be 0.13% above 3 standard deviations.

All in all, I think it's safe to say that the top few scores, at least, are outliers even in the informal sense of the word.  They're heads and tails over just about everyone else.

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I'm actually quite grateful and relieved to see those numbers. It looks like it's realistic to expect to get up to 30 WPM with practise. That's faster than I am with SwiftKey (according to "the typist" app), including swiping but excluding next word prediction. That's encouraging, since I mainly want to know if my practise with MessageEase is likely to pay off or be wasted.

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frankly, 30 WPM isn't hard to achieve with any decent layout or input technique. i just a created a new 2 thumbs layouts, and within 15 minutes can get just under 30 WPM. i can get up to 37 WPM on a custom layout which I have spent some time with.

it seems to me the layout is not the limitation, but one's physical fitness and dexterity. maybe if i was still a teenager, swiping may work for me. but as I get older and lazier, tapping is just simpler and easier. worse, i get confused mixing tapping and swiping, ala Messagease.

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I've been playing with MessagEase for a while now and with a fair bit of practice I'm at a decent speed. I think for one handed use, it is faster than QWERTY and I like the innovation. But for most people is it worth learning? I'm not sure. For two handed use the stock ios keyboard still wins for me with how effortless it feels, and even for the times when autocorrect won't work like passwords, I'm still fairly accurate. But it is definitely growing on me.

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DreymaR's "Colemakoid" MessagEase layout for touch screen typing

header_slide_1.png


MessagEase is a wonderful touch screen keyboard for its large friendly keys, fast typing and lots(!) of possibilities! The combo of tap mappings for the 9 most common keys and drags between those keys for the other letters/symbols is very powerful. It's very well optimized for speed and ease too – but a bit of a hassle to learn and remember early on. That may be a stumbling stone for the new user.

I've made a "Colemakoid" remapping for the drag positions of MessagEase. This works because the home row in Colemak and other optimized layouts corresponds largely to the tap mappings on the MessagEase keys so the drag mappings are left to be arranged to a pattern familiar to Colemak users. It won't quite work for users familiar only with QWERTY, obviously, but should still be easier to recognize and remember than the default layout since many of the less frequently used Colemak mappings are similar to QWERTY ones. The only downside is that you won't benefit as much from some of the MessagEase teaching Game levels that are based on the default drag mappings.

The horizontal drags were kept for shifted number keys according to the numbers on the keys you drag from: For example, right-drag from 'A' (which is also '1' on the NumPad) corresponds to Shift+1 on a standard keyboard so it gives you an exclamation mark. The diagonal drags are the top and bottom letter rows laid out largely as in the Colemak layout, very visually recognizable. Diacritics are logically placed at the top, and punctuation at the bottom.

I find the layout much easier to remember and learn this way, and I think it should be about as effective as the default centric layout: ≈70% of the action will be on the tap keys anyway, and the diagonal drags are positioned so that the best drags (up/down from the middle column for instance) actually get the more frequent letters in my setup.

I like to type with two thumbs like the fastest MessagEase typists do (ChengWei at least), but I'm not all that fast myself and my ≈45 WPM is much lower than the speeds of Ghen and Davkol for instance. [Update 2019: I'm at ≈60 WPM now!]† I think Ghen still uses a single finger, so who's to say what's best. It'd be nice if users with different techniques could check out my layout and compare it to the default to get some more opinions on the table.

Should anyone want to try out my Colemakoid MessagEase mappings, they can be imported using the following export code from the app, replete with instructions and all:

Spoiler:

Instructions for installing this MessagEase Keyboard: Copy the code below. Paste it on the code area in MessagEase's Settings > Keyboard Exchange, then tap on Arrow to keyboard button to affect your keyboard.

Or,

Bring up MessagEase keyboard when the code below is showing on your device's screen and is editable. Then tap AND HOLD on the hand button. MessagEase will then read the code and offer you to save or load it.

MessagEase keyboard is available as a free download from:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta … ideas.mekb

(Or find it in your app store if you're non-Android)

Created by: DreymaR (English with Android Default font):

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

That's so clever. :)

    MessagEase_KbdEx_DreymaR_Colemakoid.png?raw=1

This is what you should end up with, but not all mappings are shown on the autogenerated layout exchange image (there's [] {} next to the parentheses for instance). Your imported keyboard should now look like mine which is quite transparent and unintrusive ("stealth mode") as I've learnt where everything is now, but you can of course change the colors and transparency in the settings if you like (along with size, finger tracks and even button roundness!).

Feel free to replace ÆØÅÞÐ etc with something more useful to you (or just hide/disable them to avoid misfires), as MessagEase is easily reconfigurable.

Also remember that there are drag-return mappings as well (sadly not configurable at present), drag-circle/drag-return for quick entry of capital letters, press-and-hold for quick single digit entry, and the wonderful [C] button for a quite rich combine table – press the hand icon for help/info/settings where you can learn more about it. Also, you can make hotstrings, control strokes and more (Ghen has administered servers with it!) – etc etc. All in all, there's such a wealth of options and settings and together they make MessagEase an incredibly nice and powerful touch screen typing tool!

————————
†: Should you want to calculate your WPM speed from the MessagEase Game "World Game" where you type the standard 160 character SMS competition text about piranhas, here's how: If your test time in seconds is T then the WPM speed is (160 C * 60 min/s) / (5 C/W * T s) = 1920/T WPM. So, e.g., a test time of 32 s equals 60 WPM.

Last edited by DreymaR (28-Nov-2019 13:19:16)

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Those new rounded edges in MessagEase are a nice touch, makes it look a lot more stylish. On the game I'm now up to 63 wpm with just one thumb, and 78 wpm with two. I doubt I'll get much higher than that.

There's a new keyboard I really like the look of called "Nin". It works like Keymonk so you can swipe with both thumbs. It's THE most creatively designed keyboard I've seen yet. The attention to detail that has gone into it is amazing. You also have a lot of settings you can mess with. Right now you can get it as a jailbreak tweak on ios, or in the apps Hipjot/Nintype. Should be coming to Android soon as well.

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