12 Smartphone Keyboards That Are Trying to Reinvent Mobile TypingSean Buckley4/02/15 3:06pm9411EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkYou know what’s weird? Typing on your phone. We use two thumbs to peck out words on a keyboard designed for ten fingers—a keyboard designed to be slow. You know what’s weirder? Smartphone keyboards designed to trump our flawed typing standard. Here are 12 of them. Advertisement You probably don’t know it, but there are loads of alternative smartphone keyboards lurking out there in the app marketplace, or on Kickstarter and its ilk. They all have the same battlecry: QWERTY just wasn’t designed for two thumbs typing on glass. It’s not like anyone would disagree—we use predictive text correction algorithms just to make using a full keyboard in a 6-inch (or smaller) space bearable these days. The only reason we don’t have anything better is because change is hard. If you’re willing to re-learn how to type, though, you’ve got a lot of options. Let’s check ‘em out.MessagEase Want to cut your 26-key keyboard down by oh, about 17 letters? Check out MessagEase, a keyboard with just nine basic keys. Each key is its own letter, but swiping away from it in a specific direction (marked by another letter, of course) produces a different character. The company says its best typists can get up to 80 words per minute and, well, I almost believe them. This is one of the few keyboards from this collection I actually installed myself, and it’s highly usable with a little practice! Just remember to turn on predictive text and go download a wordlist: it’s a chore to type out each individual letter.CrossTapThis is probably the most ambitious smartphone keyboard I’ve ever seen: it’s not just a rearrangement of letters and keys, but a gesture-based system that wants to redefine how we learn to type. You can use simple taps and swipes to peck out individual letters on its two touchpoints, but it’s really designed around memorization. The grid system allows for thousands of unique gestures, and CrossTap’s maker wants every word in the English language to have its own gesture. “Type with words,” he says—just like how you talk. AdvertisementAdvertisementIt’s a crazy coco-banana idea. Properly learning the system would take years of memorization. It would need to be widely adopted and integrated into basic education to have any chance of success. But hey, what’s innovation without ambition? Sadly, this is one you can’t try—CrossTap only exists as an internal prototype for now, but if the project’s Kickstarter succeeds, it might eventually surface as a real keyboard.8Pen Enjoy drawing loops and figure-eights? 8Pen is the mobile keyboard for you. Gizmodo first covered this alternative typing method back in 2010 and… it’s just as odd today as it was back then. Letters are divided among four different diagonal paths. To type a character, you swipe in the direction of a letter and then move your finger around the keyboard a number of quarter turns equal to how many letters away from the center your chosen character is. Yeah, it’s complicated—enough so that 8Pen itself has removed the app from Google Play and stated on its website that it’s gone “back to the drawing board.” The HERO Keyboard This keyboard looks kind of like a rotary phone—looping the alphabet around a circular spacebar key in two rows. It’s designed to curve to the natural sweeping motions of your thumb and reduce the amount of distance your digits need to travel to tap more commonly used letters. It’s available for iPhone right now, but the creator is hoping to get enough funding via Kickstarter to continue developing it. Looks kind of like the superhero dial from DC Comics’ “Dial H For Hero” doesn’t it? Chorded Keyboard Okay, maybe gestures aren’t your thing. What about piano chords? That’s the idea behind the chorded keyboard: a typing system that utilizes specific button combinations (or “chords”) on a limited set of keys to reproduce any keystroke. It’s a weird idea, but it isn’t new: Douglas Engelbart, inventor of the humble computer mouse, helped introduce the idea way back in 1968. It didn’t catch on.