While most of the smartphone world has long since moved on from physical keyboards, Kevin Michaluk believes there's still an important place, and 5 important use-cases, for them. CrackBerry:
I've spent enough time on both physical keyboards and touchscreen keyboards now that I'm equally happy on both. And as I stated at the top of the article, in controlled settings I can pump out the words faster on a touchscreen keyboard than a physical keyboard. But there's a lot more to a great typing experience than just speed, and there are simply benefits to a physical keyboard that no touchscreen can yet touch.
When the iPhone first launched a chorus of Treo and BlackBerry users lamented the lack of the hardware keyboard they'd grown up with, and used to. They wanted an "iPhone Pro", and suggested no device would be taken seriously — would be more than a toy — unless and until it went full-on QWERTY.
Fast forward to 2014 and, BlackBerry Q10 aside, I'm hard pressed to remember the last time a front-facing QWERTY device hit the market... or anyone asked for one. Sure, there's the Typo, but I'm not convinced that it really has a market beyond Kevin Michaluk, Joanna Stern, and similar long-time BlackBerry users.
Everything is a compromise, and it turns out giving up the legitimate advantage of a hardware keyboard — muscle memory — allows for so many more possibilities — edge-to-edge displays, full-screen modes, multiple language support, specialty keyboards, greater accessibility to more ages and special needs, etc. — that the market has selected it as better overall.
Now the iPhone's virtual keyboard isn't perfect. From learning algorithms to improved auto-correct to features such as those offered by SwiftKey and Swype, there's a lot of way it can and should be improved. But here's the point — it can be improved. It's dynamic. It's changeable.
To paraphrase Magneto, "Software is the future, Kevin, not QWERTY. Physical keyboards no longer matter."