Continual Input in Mobile Devices – Boon or Curse?

cell phones
Mobile devices have not been associated with anything more than casual texting. However, with better software, resolution and screen size, quite a bit of actual work can be achieved through them. There are several techniques and apps which have been intended for this task. There is much productivity through text on a mobile device that can be achieved nowadays.

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Desktop devices like laptops use touch typing while mobiles use search and peck or hunt and peck typing. On the whole, cell phone users can type less than 25 words in a minute which is not too much. Given the size of the device, at most two fingers can be used for effective typing. With some training and practice, one can type without looking at the keyboard. However, most of us concentrate on what is being typed by looking at the texting field above this keyboard. Most mobile users are not adept at typing without looking at the device and have to hunt for it prior to tapping.

Continuous or Continual Input is one of the ways to improve the average typing speed. It is also referred to as gesture typing or continuous typing, enabled by applications like Swype and SwiftKey. It is a touch screen technique which allows users to keep their finger on the on screen keyboard. All you have to do is keep moving it across the board till the word has been strung together. The finger when lifted from this touch screen or moved to the space bar marks the word’s end. The time allotted to it is lesser and you can increase your typing speed.

In normal tapping, the key taps are differentiated through signals produced by the finger that touches the screen. However, with continual input, the key taps are segregated through complicated algorithms which analyse different factors of mobile app development, including the finger’s path along the keyboard and the time allotted to each key. Depending on this, the software searches dynamically for the dictionary and builds the word required. In combination with predictive texting input, this increases typing rate to a good extend.

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Even though this software works well, some snags have been observed in it. When users tap to enter texts, they have to lift their fingers over other keys which give them the chance to look over the keypad. This serves twin purposes- of allowing the user to adjust and assess his/her position over this keyboard and pinpoint the key that has to be tapped next. The importance of this movement may be very low for those who know the keyboard layout well or very high for those users who have to see everything they type.

Users who need to locate the keys visually every time are more of a concern for mobile app development. This reduces the accuracy and rate of typing on cell phones and thus reduces the benefits derivable from the CI. The main issue lies with the hunting and pecking group who may try this method as an experiment, get irritated with it and decide that this solution is not working out for them. They are most likely to go back to typing. Therefore, a solution must be devised for this user category.

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