Sunday, July 10, 2011

FlexT9 keyboard for Android

tapping away with thumbs/fingers at an on screen keyboard for data entry is not my favourite thing in the world, but it's pretty much what you have to put up with on smartphones without a hardware keyboard. whether you call it sliding, swiping/swyping, tracing or whatever, the concept of keeping your finger on the screen while you move over the relevant letters of a word is a much faster way of "typing". i had been using an old version of shapewriter (from here) which was working out pretty well given that it was no longer available on the android market, i didn't like slideIT that much, and i couldn't get swype.
and then multi-input flext9 came along. i first saw it via gizmodo, followed by ausdroid (and subsequently on ozbargain also). i've been using it for a few weeks now and have been finding it pretty good - at least as good as shapewriter (which should be expected, given that shapewriter was recently purchased by flext9's makers, nuance communications). my thoughts on flext9 so far:
  • PROs
    • Versatility: can trace, tap, draw or speak straight from the keyboard - the latter two cannot be done in Shapewriter (no draw option, and need to switch to another keyboard to be able to access microphone key)
    • Voice recognition seems to work better than Google's
  • CONs
    • Bug in whatsapp application: deleting (backspace) sometimes doesn't work properly
    • Can't trace in URL entry box in browser (tried with Dolphin and stock browser) - could be feature
    • Can't change case easily with entered words (cf. Shapewriter's case toggle key)
    • Can't trace shortcuts/commands (cf. Shapewriter's command strokes)
    • Can't add new/custom words to recognition dictionary
    • Voice recognition requires network (this is also the case with Google's voice recognition service), and uses own server side processing (not Google)
the australian english version is free until september 14, so try it out while you can do so at no cost.

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