Touchscreens are designed for tapping and swiping, but typing hasn't really been its strong suit. A startup called Tactus Technology is looking to change that, however.
Tactus is getting ready to release its Phorm accessory for the iPad mini — a case and screen protector combination that enables small "finger guides" to rise out of the screen. They kind of look like buttons, but you can't actually press them.
Rather, the small bumps are there to guide your fingers and help you avoid typos. The Phorm will cost $99 during its preorder period starting Feb. 12, but that price will jump to $149 when it officially ships this summer.
Here's how the case itself looks. You can slightly see the bubbles over the keyboard.
Here's a closer look at the finger guides when they're raised:
You can turn them on and off by sliding this switch on the back of the device.
Once the switch is turned on, the small lumps slightly raise from the screen like this: (Note: This isn't the Phorm, but it's an earlier prototype that shows how the technology works.)
Tactus uses a micro fluid panel for the screen protector, which enables small bubbles to appear on the iPad's display. In other words, when you flip the switch, small pockets within the screen protector fill up with liquid to form tiny bumps.
Tactus' case certainly does make typing easier, but the finger guides aren't quite as noticeable as you may think. I felt them slightly as I typed when using the Phorm case, but it wasn't a drastic change. It does make it slightly easier to keep your fingers in line, especially if you're in a situation where you can't really keep your eyes locked on the screen as you're typing.
It's sort of an alternative for haptic feedback, which you'll find as an option on a lot of Android phones. With haptic feedback, the key slightly vibrates after you've touched it to let you know that you've pressed the right letter.
Tactus' case, rather, recreates the actual sensation of touch, which the company says makes it easier for your fingers to remember where the keys are similar to an actual keyboard.
Right now, Tactus only makes a case for the iPad mini, but it'll soon release the same product fitted for the iPhone 6 Plus too.