Snapkeys: Speedier Way to Type on a Touch Screen
ORLANDO, Fla. — Despite improvements with mobile device touch screen interfaces, typing on a display isn't as fast or easy as it could be, especially as the on-screen keyboard takes up a significant portion of the screen.
To help solve these issues, a new typing interface called Snapkeys was launched at the CTIA Wireless conference in Orlando this week to make the typing experience faster with invisible on-screen buttons.
Snapkeys uses a few invisible keys on the screen to enable faster typing while leaving the entire screen visible. It's done by dividing the alphabet into four categories based on what the capital letter looks like. Letters that have one point at the bottom — for example, T, I or Y — are grouped into one button. The other three stand for letters that have complete circles (P, B, O), letters that have two points at the bottom (W, H, K) and letters that have a line or curve on the bottom (E, L, C).
The interface also allows for numbers, symbols and punctuation marks.
Snapkeys uses a type of predictive text (similar to how T9 texting works on feature phones) to derive words from the order those four buttons are pressed. Finally, two buttons on the left and right edges of the screen stand for the backspace and space keys, respectively.
The advantage of the setup is that users don't have to memorize where every letter is, they simply need to think about what the letter looks like. Two points? Tap this. Curve on bottom? Tap there. And within minutes, users are able to type as fast as they can on a full touch screen keyboard. With a little more practice, users become much faster.
For now, Snapkeys is compatible with all the major smartphone and tablet touch screen interfaces, including iOS and Android . However, it won’t be available as a standalone app just yet. Snapkeys will be bundled with smartphones and tablets by the manufacturer, and it's not ready to reveal the manufacturer partnerships just yet.
Representatives at CTIA Wireless said the announcement will be coming soon.