Are these the keys to easier texting?
I send text messages less frequently with my iPhone than I did in the T9 days. I get so frustrated trying to tap out a text that I often wait until I get to a computer to switch to e-mail and a proper keyboard. The interface just sucks, and I cannot remember the last time I was able to send a text without backspacing repeatedly.
One part of the problem is the tiny buttons. Another part of the problem might be the QWERTY layout itself. Ideally what you want is "two-thumb tapping," where the keyboard's letters are divided in such a way that you're alternating between right- and left-thumbs for each keystroke; a group of international researchers reckons this increases efficiency and reduces errors. With that in mind they've created KALQ, a split keyboard with a new layout.
KALQ is a split keyboard for touchscreen devices. The position of the keyboard on the display and the assignment of letters to keyslots were informed by a series of studies conducted with the aim of maximizing typing performance. KALQ is used by gripping the device from its corners. Trained users achieved an entry rate of 37 wpm (5% error rate). This is an improvement of 34% over their baseline performance with a standard touch-QWERTY system. This rate is the highest ever reported for two-thumb typing on a touchscreen device.
What's really fascinating is the source of the raw data they used: The Enron scandal of 2001. As Pacific Standard reports:
To optimize the layout for real-world use, the researchers relied on a collection of some 600,000 emails sent between Enron executives before the energy giant's collapse. (The so-called "Enron Corpus," made public during a subsequent federal investigation, is a treasure trove for computer scientists because it captures "email English" at its most casual and conversational.) After evaluating more than 5.6 million possible key configurations, the team landed on a single best design.
The researchers, who hail from Germany's Max Planck Institute for Informatics, America's University of Montana and Scotland's University of St. Andrews, are preparing a version of KALQ for Android phones that will be ready next month. (Us iPhone users are left in the lurch.)
See also: Minuum Linear Keyboard