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iPhone like thumb keyboard - new version on 2007-07-20

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By TomJanssens, Junior Member on 18th July 2007, 09:34 AM
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A little while ago, I saw a video of the first iPhone tests. When I saw the gesture & keyboard input using the fingers, I was thinking : I can do that as well...

So I developed my own finger input keyboard.
Since I don't have a mobile PC atm, I've only been able to run the demo on the pocket PC emulator.
Currently it feels a little slow to me, so I was wondering how it was holding up on a real pocket PC, and if anybody would be able to test it, and maybe even post a little video of the test-app in use.

I think atm the dictionary might have the biggest performance impact. In the current version I support about 75000 English words, while most predictive systems use a dictionary consisting of +/- 15000 words. If the performance part is lacking, I might try to reduce the dictionary to 15000 words also.

A few notes :
- currently only the keyboard support is available for WM5/6, so no gestures
- .Net compact framework 2.0 must be installed.
- only English is supported.
- the prediction is intelligent. a few examples of intended first matches:
* SURROGATE (input text : XUERMFSRE )
* TWEAKER (input text : YSRALDR )
* ABSOLUTE BEGINNER (input text : ZHDIMYTR JRHOKKER)


Since I don't have a pocket PC handy atm, I was also wondering if the finger input method is usable on a real Pocket PC. Please let me know what you think...

Here you can see a screen shot of the app in the windows emulator :



USAGE:
- Just type the words, and use space or ENTER to confirm the first match.
- Press clr to clear the current word.
- Press the text box containing the key input to use this word (currently the words do not get added automatically)
- further keyboard enhancements (QWERTY, numbers,... & skinning) will be developed in the future if this turns out to be usable.

Update 2007-06-19 : new version available (at the same link)
- performance improvements
- QWERTY,AZERTY & numeric keypad
- Tactile feedback (sound)
- ...
Update 2007-06-20 : new version available (at the same link)
- performance improvements after an online chat with tene

You can download it at this page .

Please test it and give me your feedback !!! Thanks !!
 
 
18th July 2007, 10:43 AM |#2  
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Did a test. Comments:

- Yes, it is slow. I had it in my SD, it took 10 seconds to start
- I can't type very fast on a non QWERTY keyboard, consider a QWERTY?
- Yes, it is slow, sometimes, when there are words matches, it takes a while before my next letter appear, and I thought I didn't poke it hard enough, and I get repeating letters
- There is no `back-space` on the keyboard + the previous problem, making testing very unconfortable.
- There seems to be a [] appearing whenever I choose a letter from the list
- I can use the hardware directional pad to choose the word that I want.

Anyway, nice work.. needs some improvements though
18th July 2007, 10:55 AM |#3  
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Thumbs up
Thanks a lot !! You are the first person who actually responds (after about 60 downloads in the past week)...

Quote:
Originally Posted by hanmin

Did a test. Comments:

- Yes, it is slow. I had it in my SD, it took 10 seconds to start

I will create a smaller dictionary in the next version, so it can load quicker
Quote:

- I can't type very fast on a non QWERTY keyboard, consider a QWERTY?

In the current development version QWERTY is integrated
Quote:

- Yes, it is slow, sometimes, when there are words matches, it takes a while before my next letter appear, and I thought I didn't poke it hard enough, and I get repeating letters

Dot you think some kind of feedback (a sound, or maybe virbration if possible) would improve this ?
Quote:

- There is no `back-space` on the keyboard + the previous problem, making testing very unconfortable.

I only implemented the CLR-key to clear a whole word. Maybe I should revise this, and turn it into backspace..
Quote:

- There seems to be a [] appearing whenever I choose a letter from the list

I will check this...
Quote:

- I can use the hardware directional pad to choose the word that I want.

I didn't even think about this, but it might be a good idea to use the directional pad. Thanks !

Quote:

Anyway, nice work.. needs some improvements though

Hehe, thanks for the info... now I know what to improve, I can get on with this...

If I fix most of the problems mentioned here, would you consider this a usable thumb keyboard ?
18th July 2007, 10:56 AM |#4  
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anyway whatever the outcome we should all appreciate someone who is trying something new, great work Tom - wish you good luck for the future
18th July 2007, 05:00 PM |#5  
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Hi,

I've tested it, the concept seems to work quite well, however it's a bit too slow for my device (200Mhz HTC Touch)... but I guess some improvment can be made.

Note that developing a custom SIP for pocket device require to write a in-process COM dll... so you'll need native.

Also a quick feedback
- think about UI feedback for keypress, it will make the app look faster.
- for a hand device, selecting the right suggestion with the finger is a bit hard (but hey it's a poc).
- I wonder, do you consider the tap position on the key? (for instance I press E, but I'm closer to R, so suggestion will go to E or R, not Z which is less likely).
18th July 2007, 07:10 PM |#6  
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Smile
Quote:
Originally Posted by sany

anyway whatever the outcome we should all appreciate someone who is trying something new, great work Tom - wish you good luck for the future

Thanks a lot !!
18th July 2007, 07:25 PM |#7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tene

Hi,

I've tested it, the concept seems to work quite well, however it's a bit too slow for my device (200Mhz HTC Touch)... but I guess some improvment can be made.

Hey, somebody from Belgium as well...
I will release a version with a smaller dictionary soon. The HTC touch was the device I had in mind while developing this app, so it is a pleasure for me to find out the concept in itself seems to work.

Quote:

Note that developing a custom SIP for pocket device require to write a in-process COM dll... so you'll need native.

Yes, I know... I was exploring the option of using system-wide mouse events (some kind of gesture to pop-up the keyboard) as an alternative, but the constant switch between native & .NET in the msgproc seems to slow down the pocket PC too much, so I will probably have to convert this into a native c++ app.

Quote:

Also a quick feedback
- think about UI feedback for key press, it will make the app look faster.

I will look into this
Quote:

- for a hand device, selecting the right suggestion with the finger is a bit hard (but hey it's a poc).

This also
Quote:

- I wonder, do you consider the tap position on the key? (for instance I press E, but I'm closer to R, so suggestion will go to E or R, not Z which is less likely).

Yes, I do, and I predict my words in order of the best matches first. But if E or R would not return enough word matches, I would turn to Z off course

When you consider the typing speed with this, how would you estimate it :
- better/worse then stylus keypad
- better/worse then 'graffiti'
- better/worse then some other method I never heard about.
If possible, could you give me en estimate of the amount of typed words/minute ?
18th July 2007, 07:29 PM |#8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomJanssens

When you consider the typing speed with this, how would you estimate it :
- better/worse then stylus keypad
- better/worse then 'graffiti'
- better/worse then some other method I never heard about.
If possible, could you give me en estimate of the amount of typed words/minute ?

Unfortunately: it's too slow to provide accurate result on my touch. The suggestion panel isn't usable by finger, so I can't provide such result... and I do speak french, so most of my messages are in french. Also I don't have much XP using PDA phone, based on my test, it was the most promising input however.

By the way, if you need help with the C++ version... contact me...
19th July 2007, 11:21 AM |#9  
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hello,

it crash on a qtek 9100 (Wizard is the US name I think)
it says : outofbound exception... I don't have the full error message.
I have the compact framework 2

Best regards,
Olivier
19th July 2007, 12:41 PM |#10  
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Please try the new version
could you try the new version (less memory intensive) :
http://www.corebvba.be/blog/Category...ry,iPhone.aspx
19th July 2007, 12:42 PM |#11  
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newer version with qwerty etc...
So far so good.... I have been fixing most of the issues you all suggested, and released a new version on my site :
http://www.corebvba.be/blog/Category...ry,iPhone.aspx

This version has better performance, QWERTY, as well as AZERTY & numeric keypads & provides tactile feedback (sound)

Still on my todo list:
- backspace
- Custom words & contacts in dictionary
- skinning
- performance

Please test it and let me know what you think about it.
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