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Is It Time To End Our Love Affair With the QWERTY Keyboard? 557

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-need-a-little-spacebar dept.
Master Moose writes "Brisbane-based entrepreneur John Lambie currently has in beta an alternative to what he calls the 'dysfunctional' QWERTY keyboard. Given the way the world is abandoning their keyboards for smartphones he sees now as the perfect time to introduce a new layout. He calls his new keyboard Dextr and believes it is the natural progression from using a number pad to enter text — This is especially so in developing countries where users have not grown up with QWERTYs on thier phones. While he is not the first to ever propose an alternate or alphabetical keyboard — Are we locked into QWERTY for familiarity's sake, or as we shift to smaller, more mobile and new devices, is Mr. Lambie's project coming at the right time?"
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Is It Time To End Our Love Affair With the QWERTY Keyboard?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:14AM (#40612993)

    It's not like there already are better keyboard options out there. Dvorak, I weep for your absence in everyday life.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) <(mojo) (at) (world3.net)> on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:19AM (#40613043) Homepage

    That's a compelling argument. I would add to it but TFA seems to be blatant slashvertizing. Dextr is some shitty app they are trying to promote.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:19AM (#40613055)

    Android has been a literal playground for new keyboard designs. QWERTY is winning so far, but there's no reason to push one standard over another because we aren't tied to a physical keyboard anymore. I have 8 keyboards installed on my phone. Most QWERTY, but some, like 8pen, are radically different and focus on actual typing speed.

    The keyboard in the article is

    1) not made for speed
    2) fucking ugly
    3) takes up a crazy amount of screen real-estate

  • Re:Inertia (Score:5, Informative)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@jws[ ]he.com ['myt' in gap]> on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:24AM (#40613095) Homepage Journal

        It may change in time, but just because someone invents a better keyboard layout, or a more innovative way to type, doesn't mean it will meet common acceptance.

        It would have made sense if people adopted the abcdef keyboard (alphabetical), but as most devices are qwerty (or whatever your region uses), they'll remain. People aren't going to flock to buying new keyboards, for home and work, and swap out their cell phones with keypads for newer ones.

        Even the shift from regular keyboards to ergonomic never happened, because it was difficult for people to switch back and forth quickly. I got used to it, switching when I'd get on a client's computer. A lot of people had problems trying. If they really stuck with it, they'd buy new keyboards for their home and office, usually out of pocket for the employer.

        The biggest migration of keyboard style I can think of is from the old mechanical typewriters, which didn't have the zero or one keys (redundant for "o" and "l") That was an obvious one, since the newer mechanical typewriters did have the full set of numbers, and distinguishing marks on the numerals.

  • Re:No (Score:4, Informative)

    by DeathToBill (601486) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:29AM (#40613135) Journal

    Betteridge's law in action.

  • by Derek Pomery (2028) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:30AM (#40613155)

    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/221/was-the-qwerty-keyboard-purposely-designed-to-slow-typists [straightdope.com]
    "Baloney, say the authors of the article you enclose, S.J. Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis. They point out that (1) the research demonstrating the superiority of the Dvorak keyboard is sparse and methodologically suspect; (2) a sizable body of work suggests that in fact the Dvorak offers little practical advantage over the QWERTY; (3) at least one study indicates that placing commonly used keys far apart, as with the QWERTY, actually speeds typing, since you frequently alternate hands; and (4) the QWERTY keyboard did not become a standard overnight but beat out several competing keyboards over a period of years. Thus it may be fairly said to represent the considered choice of the marketplace. It saddens me to know I helped to perpetuate the myth of Dvorak superiority, but I will sleep better at night knowing I have rectified matters at last."

    Totally agree on spreading the keys apart. Easier on the fingers.
    Kinda like in gaming where if you repeatedly press keys in almost the same location, repeatedly, you start getting RSI.

  • Re:No (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:35AM (#40613203)

    Come on Slashdot, how hard it is to know anything outside US?

    Pretty hard, apparently.

    Even now, in the 21st Century, with our flying cars and Mr. Fusions, /. still doesn't allow the full Latin-1 character set. I can't type a Euro Sign, or a cent or an AE ligature.

    WTF /. Get with the times.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

    by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:55AM (#40613383)

    How the hell did this get insightful?

    Because it references Betteridge's Law of Headlines [wikipedia.org] which states any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no. The rest was just filler to get passed the lameness filter.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

    by agallagh42 (301559) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:00AM (#40613429) Homepage

    ...QWERTY is a HORRIBLE layout and was designed to BE horrible, to slow down typists writing on mechanical typewriters.

    From Wikipedia:
    "A popular myth is that QWERTY was designed to "slow down" typists though this is incorrect – it was designed to prevent jams while typing at speed, allowing typists to type faster."

  • Re:No (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jesus_666 (702802) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:15AM (#40613595)
    I don't want to defend /.'s weird character set but the Euro sign isn't part of Latin-1. You're thinking of Latin-15 (aka "Latin 1 with the Euro sign instead of generic currency sign").
  • Re:No (Score:4, Informative)

    by xaxa (988988) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:23AM (#40613691)

    Euro: €
    Cent:
    AE: Æ æ

    Incidentally, the "Compose" key functionality in Linux (which you will have to enable, in the GUI or with setxkbmap -option compose:menu (to make the "Menu" key the compose key) is really useful. I typed € with Compose, C, =. AE/Æ was Compose, A, E. Lots of other characters are a couple of keypresses away.)

  • Re:No (Score:4, Informative)

    by ratbag (65209) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:42AM (#40613987)

    Replying to my own post because I can.

    Here's [ucdenver.edu] a pretty picture of a German keyboard showing some of the other differences that my anglo-centric non-umlaut-needing mind had blanked out.

  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:50AM (#40614079)

    It's not just the layout that can be replaced on android, you can use wildly different text input choices. Swiftkey has insanely good error correction and word prediction by a combination of an analysis of what you've written into your phone before and a heat map that invisibly adjusts the key position to be more consistent with where you actually hit it (if you always hit the area between 'e' and 'r' when you mean to hit 'e' it will begin register that area as 'e'). Swipe works by dragging from one letter to the next. Various voice recognition apps (including Google's) works through the same interface. And those are just the relatively obvious keyboard styles, there are other text input choices that are really trying new things. This [appstorm.net] is wildly out of date but still provide a glimpse of the kinds of things you can try out on Android.

  • Re:Inertia (Score:3, Informative)

    by Phisbut (761268) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @10:30AM (#40614503)

    As a Belgian, I abandoned azerty. Qwerty is indeed better for programming. And azerty is for the French language. The Dutch language, spoken by most Belgians, has absolutely no need for a q in the center row. I really don't understand how azerty ever ended up being used in Flanders.

    As a French Canadian, I use a QWERTY keyboard since that's the north-american standard. It's probably because of the habit, but the few times I've had to use AZERTY, even to type French text, I absolutely hated it and I can't understand its logic. I can't imagine what it would be like to program with that.

You can do this in a number of ways. IBM chose to do all of them. Why do you find that funny? -- D. Taylor, Computer Science 350

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