One important feature expected from a Touch screen based Windows mobile Smartphone is the ability to quickly input text.
Be it composing a SMS/MMS or taking a note or composing a word document, a powerful keyboard application is a must on a Smartphone/Pocket PC.
I quickly got adjusted to the Touch based navigation on my newly purchased HTC Touch Smartphone, however when it came to composing a SMS using my fingers, I failed miserably !
I had to either take support from the Stylus (which I didn’t want to) or I had to search for a better powerful keyboard alternative for my phone.HTC did market the Touch phone as the first touch based Smartphone, but they forgot to provide a better text input user interface !
By default the Windows Mobile OS came with the following methods of text input.
Unless you have very small fingers, the only way to work with the above keyboard is by relying on the stylus supplied with the device.
Letter Recognizer/Block Recognizer
On this interface, even your small fingers wouldn’t be of help. The only way to use this interface is again via the stylus attached with the device.
The Transcriber application is Microsoft’s award winning application that uses Transcriber technology to bring you unprecedented recognition accuracy and ease of use.
Transcriber employs advanced fuzzy logic and neural net techniques that allow it to recognize your handwriting with unparalleled accuracy and speed. Think your handwriting is too messy for Transcriber to make sense of it
Once you get used to the Transcriber, this method might be the most effective among the above 4 methods. However like in Letter/Block Recognizer, you are forced to use the stylus in Transcriber mode too 🙁
Alternative Touch Based Keyboards
Here are 2 alternative keyboards which saves you from using the Stylus.
HTC supposedly started licensing T9 text input capabilities and included a software input method for their devices that let you easily type out text using common T9 techniques.
This was a great feature for phones that only had touch screens since you could use your thumb to type out messages in much the same way you would do so on a standard numeric keypad using T9. However it was abandoned by HTC for some odd reasons. I was finally able to grab hold of the CAB file for the phone pad in XDA developers forum
After using it for a more than a week, I should say that this is probably the most efficient and fastest way of inputting text on a touch based device.
I couldn’t locate the forum thread which had the cab, so here is the link to the T9 Phonepad application.
Full Screen Keyboard
Unlike T9 Phonepad, Spb’s Full Screen Keyboard is not a free application. However at 10$ its worthy every penny ! Unlike other input methods it covers the entire screen area and has keys large enough to be typed with finger-tips rather than with a stylus.
Additionally the dictionary–based correction algorithms allow users to reduce the number of misprints significantly.
Other notable applications
There are 2 more applications worth mentioning even though they are not touch based applications. They rely on the stylus but have some unique features which help you to input the text at a pretty fast rate.
If you know about any additional keyboard applications useful for Touch based device, please do leave your suggestions in the comments section.