No, this isn’t a map of Boston’s T subway. It’s 8pen: a new gesture-based typing system for Android devices designed specifically for mobile touchscreens. But can it really replace the old standard keyboard?
“If the keyboard was invented today for mobile devices, would it have looked the same?,” the makers of 8Pen ask in a YouTube video. “Probably not. We need something new.” Aiming to provide a faster and more accurate means of composing text on a small touch screen, 8pen rejiggers the traditional keyboard layout and separates letters into four quadrants, arranged around a central point that functions as the space bar.
The typist navigates the 8pen “keyboard” by gesturing around the quadrants, rather than pecking at individual letters. The system is designed to mimic the feel of handwriting and even recognizes gestures for greater typing ease.
OK, so I called out the generation above me in the headline, but I have to be honest, I’m the one who’s scared about having to learn to type in a new way. I guess that means I’m officially old, so I’ll give it the ol’ college try just to avoid that designation.
It’s smart and I appreciate that, but is the standard mobile touch keyboard really that bad? I’d say it works pretty damn well (I’m an iPhone user) despite the shortcomings, and the predictive/corrective systems do as well. Certainly well enough that I’m not excited about the possibility of learning a new system. Even when I was a 10 year old sponge we spent hours in the computer lab
on Mavis Beacon playing DinoPark Tycoon to learn to get my typing chops where they are today. And there’s no way you’re going to convince me that a new typing system can bring Crackberry users over to touchscreen devices. It’s not that they have a problem with touch keyboards, it’s that they are extremely happy with the keyboard they have.
P.S. Someone holler at me if you can hook me up with a copy of DinoPark Tycoon because I’ve got the itch now.