Category: Utilities Seller:Ralf Trachte Requirements: iOS 5.0 or later Compatibility: iPad File Size: 0.2 MB Version Reviewed: 1.0 Price: $5.99
One of the most widely-perceived deficiencies of the iPad’s user interface is the virtual on-screen keyboard. It’s actually not as bad as I had anticipated, and I find it quite usable, although it’s certainly not one of my favorite iPad features.
A purported “better mousetrap” solution is offered by the developer of TypeWay 1.0, Ralf Trachte, who claims it to be the first self-adapting multi-touch keyboard on the market. Mr. Trachte suggests that for typing with all ten fingers this utility app is an innovation, which dovetails with the iPad’s technology of sensing 10 touches simultaneously (on iPad even up to 11 touches are actually possible).
Conventional keyboards require typing in linear rows, although, for example, the pinky finger and ring finger would prefer relative short distances. Hands are also individual in size, shape, and typing habits, and may shift their position. This app uses information about touch events in several algorithms to control and refresh the configuration of keys continuously (patents and patents pending) to adapt to the idiosyncrasies and physical characteristics of the individual user, at least that’s the theory.
Typing with ten fingers is claimed to be made faster and more comfortable by a self-adapting key configuration, or so they say. I’m not a touch typist. The typing technique I’ve developed over the past 40 years or so is reasonably efficient. I can manage about 50 words per minute on good days. I use more than two fingers in an intuitive technique, but usually fewer than 10.
Consequently, I can’t evaluate TypeWay from a touch typist’s perspective, but I’m not sure that matters a lot in this instance, because TypeWay, at least at its version 1.0 stage of development, has several deficiencies that render it unusable as a typing tool at present.
First is stability. I took two cracks at composing this mini-review in TypeWay, but both times the app crashed before I finished the second paragraph, causing me to lose my work.
Not cool. I threw in the towel and went back to PlainText.
But that’s just for starters. Another deal-breaker is no quotation marks or apostrophe, at least that I can find. Say whaaaaaat? I suspect that English may not be Mr. Trachte’s first language, but those particular punctuation marks are non-optional in my estimation.
Typeway’s default keyboard layout is reasonably OK, save for the missing punctuation marks. Its appearance reminds me a bit of the keyboard layout on an old ’50s vintage Royal portable typewriter I used to have. I also like that it has standard functioning Shift and Caps Lock keys and an n-dash key that doesn’t require summoning the numerical and symbol keyboard interface, in pleasant contrast to the iPad’s own keyboard. Note that TypeWay only works in landscape mode. Not a biggie for me, since that’s the way I usually roll, but an issue for those who like to keep their iPad in portrait orientation.
The theory, as I understand it, is that the TypeWay keyboard continuously adapts the virtual keyboard to individual hands, hand sizes, hand positions, and typing habits, and makes use of iPad’s multi-touch capabilities. What I discovered in just a little bit of real-world use was that at least in the way it adapted to my typing style, the keys soon disconcertingly migrated toward the left and right keyboard extremes, until the left-hand alpha keys overlapped the Shift and Caps Lock, at which point they stopped responding until I hit the Default layout restore button.
How that is supposed to improve typing performance eludes me. You can freeze the keyboard layout at any time with a keystroke, but what is the point if you have to do that? Perhaps I’m missing something.
Also, while I would anticipate that I would get faster with more time on TypeWay, I’m definitely a lot quicker on the standard iPad 2 ‘board with its larger keys than I am with the TypeWay, and auto-correct doesn’t seem to be supported by TypeWay either. Some users might suggest that’s no bad thing, but as irritating as it can be at times, I find auto-correct a useful feature that enhances my typing performance on the no-feedback on-screen keyboard.
Other features of the TypeWay keyboard app are that it incorporates a simple notepad function for creation of basic text files with some iOS 5 text editing tools such as cut, copy & paste, spell-checker, suggestions for word correction and multi-touch features integrated, and it can share file data via Mail, Twitter, or AirPrint, but unhappily it does not support Dropbox synchronization.
Hopefully, the deficiencies noted can be fixed or improved in future versions, but for now my counsel is to either hold on to your six bucks, spend a couple more on TextKraft (which has a genuinely improved keyboard interface along with an excellent text-processor), or go with its $2.99 sibling SchreibKraft, whose keyboard is only slightly less good.