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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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  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:12AM (#40612981)

    No. That is all.

    • Inertia (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zrbyte (1666979) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:16AM (#40613017)

      It didn't change at the transition to the PC from typewriters and it's not going to change now (in any significant way).

      • Re:Inertia (Score:5, Informative)

        by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@jwsm[ ]e.com ['yth' 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:Inertia (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dogtanian (588974) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:53AM (#40613371) Homepage

          It would have made sense if people adopted the abcdef keyboard (alphabetical)

          Why? Just because it's the most obvious layout, doesn't mean it's the optimal one for typing. At most it's going to make it slightly easier for complete beginners to find keys before they've learned where they are.

          I'm not claiming that QWERTY is the best layout for typing- in fact, it's generally accepted that it almost certainly isn't.

          But as you say, there have been countless attempts to do alternate layouts, and few have gained much traction. If we're talking about mobile devices (where, after all, people learned to "type" on a non-QWERTY 12-digit keyboard (*)) perhaps sticking with a full keyboard- albeit with different layout- isn't thinking far enough (**), and we should be considering something like Microwriter [wikipedia.org]- which first appeared 30 years ago!

          (*) And showed no inclination do use that on a computer
          (**) I was going to say "not thinking far enough outside the box" but I really loathe that stupid cliche even though I can't think of anything better. Always found it ironic that "thinking outside the box" is such a cliched, unoriginal, unimaginative, corporate, stuck inside the damn box phrase(!!)

          • Re:Inertia (Score:5, Insightful)

            by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:02AM (#40613445) Journal
            No kidding. Dextr is just alphabetic with the vowels in a column. It's stupid. A Qwerty style keyboard in a Dvorak layout (slide-out wide keyboard) would actually work great on a phone--because your thumbs would alternate, just like you alternate hands on Dvorak. Of course that's biased to English, but the principle stands: give me a reason to use a different layout, don't just throw something stupid but pretty in front of me and claim the old thing is outdated and the new hotness is new. We know it's new. Getting herpes would also be a refreshing change, but I think I'm better off with the mundane life of being STD free.
            • Re:Inertia (Score:5, Insightful)

              by gstrickler (920733) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @10:31AM (#40614521)

              And putting the vowels in a column will make it difficult to adapt something like Swype to the layout, because it makes a problem Swype has even worse. Suppose you want to type "pit". Using Swype on a qwerty layout, you have to be careful with stopping on the i, because o and u are right next to it, and pot and put are also valid words. With all the vowels in a column, if you're a bit too high, you get "pet", too low = "pot", significantly too high = "pat" and significantly too low = "put". Five valid words distinguished solely by the vertical position of the vowel. There are thousands of other examples. Swype with qwerty has that issue with u, i, & o, (& y) this layout extends the problem to all 5 vowels.

              Another problem, an extra two rows of keys on many mobile devices presents a space problem. Even on touchscreen devices, the 4 row layout (3 qwerty + space, shift, etc.) used by Android and iOS takes up a lot of screen space already, adding two more rows means you either make the rows shorter (aggravating the problem above), use up too much screen height, or move the space, shift, enter, etc to the sides of the layout. Either way, you compromise usability even more.

              Alphabetic ordered keyboards may initially be faster for those unfamiliar with qwerty, but they're not faster for for anyone experienced with qwerty, even for two-finger typists. My in-dash GPS/nav system uses an alphabetic layout, and it's definitely slower for me than qwerty would be. Of course, as slow as that nav system is to respond, qwerty wouldn't actually be faster, bit it would require less searching and therefore be less distracting and frustrating. The alphabet is useful for ordering/filing, but it bears no relationship to letter frequency or digraph/trigraph patterns, so it doesn't help with typing words.

              Since dvorak, colemak, and other optimized layouts haven't really caught on, I'm afraid we'll be living with qwerty and it's international variants for a long time.

              • Re:Inertia (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @01:34PM (#40617029)

                Since dvorak, colemak, and other optimized layouts haven't really caught on, I'm afraid we'll be living with qwerty and it's international variants for a long time.

                I wouldn't be so sure.

                1. Replace keycap letters with e-ink.
                2. Allow users to remap keys to their liking.
                3. Use whatever layout you want, qwerty, dvorak, abcdef, or whatever this new one is.

                The thing that's been keeping qwerty alive is everyone having to learn it. Even if you use dvorak, you still have to learn qwerty because you'll frequently sit down at a physical qwerty keyboard. With the move to virtual keyboards and the development of technology which would allow easy reconfiguration of a physical keyboard (including the letter markings), a lot of that inertia disappears.

                It's like I say about GUIs - rather than trying to force everyone into a menu model or a ribbon model, include both. The people who like menus can use the menus, the people who like the ribbon can use the ribbon, and if a menu-user sits at a ribbon-user's computer (or vice versa), a single configuration option should let you switch between the two. We should be adapting computers to match the way we (as individuals) like to work, not expecting individuals to adapt how they work to match one monolithic way all computers work.

              • There actually is a keyboard layout [google.com] optimized for swiping. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it really is faster once you learn it.

            • No kidding. Dextr is just alphabetic with the vowels in a column. It's stupid.

              Actually, it's worse than stupid because the Z key is shoved between the H and the I keys, instead of being at the bottom right corner where you'd expect it to be.

            • Re:Inertia (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Xyverz (144945) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @11:54AM (#40615519)

              I've been using Dvorak on the PC for over 10 years now. Until I got my Android phone, all my texting has been done in QWERTY. On my new phone, I decided to try out Dvorak for a bit and I found something horrifying: dvorak on the phone is not as easy as using qwerty.

        • Re:Inertia (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rbrausse (1319883) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:32AM (#40613829)

          It would have made sense if people adopted the abcdef keyboard (alphabetical)

          Douglas Adams answered this one many years ago [douglasadams.com]:

          The principle behind the decision to have an alphabetical keyboard is based on a misunderstanding. I believe that the idea is this: not everybody knows qwerty (it's an odd feeling actually typing qwerty as a word. Try it and you'll see what I mean) but everybody knows the alphabet. This true but irrelevant. People know the alphabet as a one dimensional string, not as a two-dimensional array, so you're going to have to hunt and peck anyway.

        • by Kergan (780543)

              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.

          Like text to speech, aka no typing at all.

          (Now, imagine yourself dictating your code to your computer...)

      • Re:Inertia (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fearofcarpet (654438) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:41AM (#40613255)

        I learned to type on a typewriter. Now I use this keyboard [daskeyboard.com] at work (I do a lot of writing for my job). Since there are no labels on the keys, I can see the wear patterns and they are concentrated around the home row (and space bar) exactly as intended. I suppose the home row makes no sense on virtual keyboards, but then again virtual keyboards make no sense, which is why there are a zillion "swipe" and "predictive" keyboards on the Android market... so, yah, as you say, interta; I already have to deal with f***ing French keyboards, why would I want to complicate my life even more by adding another non-QWERTY keyboard to the mix?

        • Re:Inertia (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jawtheshark (198669) * <(moc.krahsehtwaj) (ta) (todhsals)> on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:20AM (#40613657) Homepage Journal

          I already have to deal with f***ing French keyboards

          You think that's bad? I cope on a daily basis with Belgian, French, German, Swiss, US and UK keyboards. Sure some of those are only slight variations, but believe me, it ain't fun.

          My opinion: everone migrates to US-International and we're done with it.

          • Re:Inertia (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Lord Lode (1290856) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:51AM (#40614099)

            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.

            • Re:Inertia (Score:5, Funny)

              by sentientbeing (688713) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @10:29AM (#40614499)
              Stupid sexy Flanders
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Phisbut (761268)

              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.

            • Re:Inertia (Score:5, Interesting)

              by jawtheshark (198669) * <(moc.krahsehtwaj) (ta) (todhsals)> on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @10:51AM (#40614771) Homepage Journal

              Hey, I used to be a Belgian... I was born in Antwerp. My native language is Flemish. However, isn't saying "The Dutch language, spoken by most Belgians" is quite a bit misleading? Now, there may be more Flemish people than Walloon people, but saying "most Belgians" is really an exaggeration.

              Furthermore, to answer your question why "azerty" is the Belgian keyboard, you have to simply look at your own history. When keyboards got in widespread use, Flanders wasn't the economic powerhouse of Belgium. Back then, it was Wallony with it's coal mines. French was the most important language and was used in business as well as by the bourgeoisie. Sure, now Wallony is the poorer part and Flanders the richer part, but that wasn't always so.

              Funnily enough, this is exactly on topic because it's pure history and inertia that makes "azerty" the Belgian layout.

    • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Slashbots (2681871) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:17AM (#40613025)
      And don't get me even started with countries that have other character sets like Russia, Germany or Thailand. Come on Slashdot, how hard it is to know anything outside US?
    • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@NOspaM.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 Pieroxy (222434)

        That's a compelling argument

        The fact is that nobody gives a damn about their keyboard layout. Once you're used to yours it works and that's all there is to know about it.

        Are there people out there that really think they can invent a new layout and popularize it by posting it to slashdot? Some dudes are just living in their very own universe...

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          dextr should be called the abc layout.

          it looks like it uses more of the screen too, so there's that.

          • Or, it could be called the "5x5 abc layout", since other abc layouts have existed longer than even qwerty.

            Or, it could be called the "layout that no one asked for, but got anyway".

      • Even if we were to change layouts, it would NOT be to this one. They put all the vowels in a column highlighted with a different color. WTF? While they are common letters, so are a lot of others. In fact while txtng ppl tend 2 not use m. Disrupting the otherwise alphabetical order just for this seems like a poor choice. The other major problem I see is there are no numbers on this thing so it's not alpha-numeric, just alpha. I see no compelling features of this layout, but there are some stupid things about
    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:20AM (#40613061)

      No. That is all.

      How the hell did this get insightful?

      the problem with texting on smartphones isn't the keyboard layout, it's that big fat thumbs sometimes hit the button next to the intended one. While qwerty is no better than any other layout on a smartphone, it IS a great layout on pc keyboards which is where I do most of my typing, so why should I learn two layouts when the one I use most often is at worst equally bad as any other?

      • 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.

      • Hello Mr/Ms/Dr/Rev AC, I think you miscomprehended the statement. The title of this article/page is "Is it Time to End Our Love Affair with the QWERTY Keyboard." The answer, "No. That is all" means NO, IT IS NOT TIME TO END OUR LOVE AFFAIR. It was modded insightful because many people can read and understand the sentiment that it is not time to end the QWERTY keyboard. You yourself seem to defend the QWERTY, too. Which means, in theory, you should agree with "No. That is all." Instead you question how it be
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I've been using a custom keyboard layout for years, and I do find it better than QWERTY's default.

      For the curious, top left to bottom right:
      `12345@67890#
      jwertqkylp[]
      asdfghuio-'
      \zxcvbnm,./

      Familiar enough to be able to swap between the two, but much more comfortable to type on.

    • Re:No (Score:4, Informative)

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

      Betteridge's law in action.

    • Re:No (Score:5, Funny)

      by eggstasy (458692) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:39AM (#40613237) Journal

      Is it time to stop ending titles with question marks?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:14AM (#40612991)

    For the love of all that is holy, stop wasting time trying to 'fix' something that is not broken!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tmann72 (2473512)
      They Qwerty keyboard layout was specifically designed to prevent jamming in typewriters while at full typing speed.It optimized the usage of the levers to prevent those jams. This functionality is useless in the modern world, and there are in fact better alternatives. It may not be broken, but it's not necessarily the best tool for the job.
      • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:23AM (#40613085)

        However, the problem was as people learned how to use QWERTY keyboards, their typing speed increased to a point where it doesn't matter how the keys are located. Typing speed remains nearly unaffected, just as long as people know where the keys are.

      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:27AM (#40613125) Homepage Journal

        there are in fact better alternatives

        Sure, but alphabetical order isn't one of them.

      • by gatkinso (15975)

        Change the keyboard layout and it sure as hell WILL be broken.

      • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:30AM (#40613147) Homepage Journal

        For ten-fingered input, the maximum gains in typing performance brought on by a new keyboard layout are minimal; one or two percent at best. As long as your hands can reach the whole keyboard, the difference in time it takes for any given keystroke is negligible. The real benefit that comes from, for example, Dvorak vs. QWERTY, is a reduction in stress on the hands, and hence RSI. Saying that QWERTY "optimized" typewriter jamming would be overly generous; the improvement over the traditional alphabetical key ordering was only performed to a modest extent, and the typists of the day were not proficient touch-typists as we are now.

        In the case of thumb-typing, however, great improvement is possible. The Metropolis keyboard [psu.edu], for example, was generated stochastically by optimising an energy function based on letter pair frequency, and provides a 40% typing speed increase over QWERTY.

        • by guttentag (313541) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:12AM (#40613547) Journal

          Saying that QWERTY "optimized" typewriter jamming would be overly generous...

          [sarcasm] Apparently it's not just for typewriters. Microsoft said the reason my computer crashed so much was because I was using Dvorak, resulting in crossed bits that would become bound together and were too big to fit through my computer's 16-bit processor. They said this would happen less if I reverted to QWERTY because they keys were optimized to limit crossed bits. I became skeptical of this answer after it continued to happen with 32-bit Windows, given that the processor could now handle more bits than there were letters in the alphabet. [/sarcasm]

        • Speed gains (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bradley13 (1118935) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:12AM (#40613553) Homepage

          For what it's worth, I once spent a good deal of time testing this hypothesis. I spent a lot of time researching optimized layouts, picked one, and used it for a solid year - parallel to the QWERTY layout that I was still using at work. After a year, I was equally proficient with both (I could touch-type either at will, same error-rate, etc.), and I ran a number of tests.

          The results were quite consistent: about a 10% speed increase (from 60wpm to 66 wpm), no significant difference in the error rates. For what it's worth, at that point I decided for QWERTY. That's what most keyboards in the West are based on, and for a 10% gain in speed, you have the irritation of switching back-and-forth all the time. If you don't type a lot on both layouts, your speed-gain on one quickly becomes a massive speed-penalty on the other.

          Note: there is a nice little open-source application [sourceforge.net] out there that will let you take your personal keyboard layout with you whereever you go. Unfortunately, it currently only supports Windows.

          For smart phones, the situation is obviously different. If you want to be able to type quickly, you pretty much need a predictive keyboard (something like SwiftKey, for example). Beyond that, it's simply a matter of being able to find the "keys" quickly. For anyone who also uses a normal keyboard, that means QWERTY.

      • by l3v1 (787564) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:52AM (#40613351)
        "They Qwerty keyboard layout was specifically designed to prevent jamming in typewriters while at full typing speed.It optimized the usage of the levers to prevent those jams. This functionality is useless in the modern world [...]" and as with a lot of things in computing, it reached a point where it is totally pointless to compare the current situation to the origins (e.g. think about the endless debates about changing de facto standard icons like floppy disk for save and so on and so forth). It doesn't matter now why it was done so. But it matters that the current majority of computer users are accustomed to it to a point where changing it wouldn't be worth the hassle. Now, providing options for other layouts, that's a different story, there's nothing wrong with that. But this dextr (or what) thing should stay on the touchscreens and be done with it, in the big family of gazillion+1 versions of touchscreen keyboard variants. That's it, nothing more, nothing less. Too much fuss again about some piece of crap.
  • 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: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I would recommend Colemak. It is easier to learn for those that know qwerty already, about as efficient as dvorak with respect to hand movement and it is not as annoying with the placement of the L and the S key, which is sort of fundamental when you work with UNIX-like systems.

    • 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.

      • Alternate hands is much, much, much more common on Dvorak than QWERTY. I know this because it was one of my major frustrations with the Dvorak layout--all sorts of things I used to be able to type one-handed, I no longer could. I've used Dvorak every day for almost 10 years now, and I still don't have any one-handed combos unless you count "ls", which I don't, because I never need to type that one-handed, and it uses the mouse hand anyway.

        Try it out--just take random words, and see if they're typable one-handed on each layout. Tally the results, stop when you're satisfied.

        Actually, screw it, here:

        # Words typable with left hand only, Dvorak:
        # aspell dump master | grep -E '^[pyaoeuiqjkx]+$' | wc -l
        144

        # Words typable with right hand only, Dvorak:
        aspell dump master | grep -E '^[fgcrldhtnsbmwvz]+$' | wc -l
        95

        # Words typable with left hand only, QWERTY:
        aspell dump master | grep -E '^[qwertasdfgzxcvb]+$' | wc -l
        2192

        # Words typable with right hand only, QWERTY:
        aspell dump master | grep -E '^[yuiophjklnm]+$' | wc -l
        292

        • Oh yeah:

          # Words typable with home row only, Dvorak:
          # aspell dump master | grep -E '^[aoeuidhtns]+$' | wc -l
          1787

          # Words typable with home row only, QWERTY:
          # aspell dump master | grep -E '^[asdfghjkl]+$' | wc -l
          129

          I don't care what keyboard layout you use, I really don't care which layout "wins" (Dvorak has already lost), and I really, really don't care about the irrelevant and probably bullshit "origin stories" of either one, but saying that QWERTY promotes using alternating hands is just factually incorr

          • aspell master list is not exactly a good way to count alternate hand use. You'd be better off using a word frequency table.
            In a pinch, comparing letter frequency (etoainshrdlu) by actual percentage against the layouts.
            btw, I always used the right hand for b because the index finger is closest to it. Removing that from your list drops the number to 1770 on my system.

            Personally though I wasn't thinking too much of alternating hands, but rather which fingers I'm using and whether they move up or down to type.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:15AM (#40613013)
    No. [wikipedia.org]
  • by msobkow (48369) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:16AM (#40613021) Homepage Journal

    I don't see any reason why you shouldn't be able to "plug in" any text input widget you choose with a decently designed device. It would make supporting languages other than English a hell of a lot easier, and it would let people opt for things like stylus/printing interfaces instead of virtual keyboards.

    Frankly I'd be shocked if the Qwerty soft keyboards were hard coded -- companies would be locking themselves out of non-English markets, and that's not good global thinking or marketing.

    Myself, I hate virtual keyboards of all kinds. I'd much rather use a stylus with handwriting recognition.

    • I don't know about iPhone, but on Android it's trivial to install a new input method and there are lots available, many which don't resemble keyboards at all.

  • by craznar (710808)

    Looks like an exercise in OCD, not in design.

    Getting the vowels to line up has little use in written language, but it might make an OCD a touch less stressed.

  • 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

  • as more robust, built-in voice-to-text is disseminating so rapidly now on phones and tablets, and Dextr appears to target those devices. For those of us who already type quickly, I can't see why we'd want to learn a new format. For those just learning to type, I could see wanting to do something better than QWERTY (Dvorak).

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:24AM (#40613091)
    He will follow in the footsteps of Dvorak [wikipedia.org], colemak [colemak.com] (oh how I wish this was used everywhere), and the the many other layouts [assistivetech.net] into either oblivion or a small number of dedicated users who cannot understand why everyone else doesn't want to switch to their layout.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      or a small number of dedicated users who cannot understand why everyone else doesn't want to switch to their layout.

      You just accidentally described the Linux UI war.

  • This sort of keyboard is change for the sake of change. Any improvements in keyboard technology ... for me, anyways ... must improve, not merely change.

    chorded keyboard that allow sight-free touchscreen typing? That's an improvement. Changing the keyboard layout to something better? That's called Dvorak.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:29AM (#40613143)

    I, fir one, don"f cee whad thi fuss es apout.

    I'n abendonned QWERTY wonks ago amd I'n doung jist fane.

  • Even if you do find a better way to type on a keyboard, do you think 99.999999% of the people in the world are going to follow you? Any job that requires typing skill is not going to ask if you know how to use a Dvork or Dextr keyboard. The keyboard will change when we no longer need them, after A.I. provides us a better means of communicating with computers.
  • by Auroch (1403671) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:35AM (#40613207)
    ... wow. This new keyboard is so much faster than typing with swype. NOT.
  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:36AM (#40613213)

    Don't worry about changing the $5 disposable mush-board hardware. Worry about changing software. I would imagine cursor movement in VI or nethack is pretty agonizing on dvorak layout.

    I've been hearing this stuff since I saw ads for dvorak replacement keyboards in 1982. Probably has been around longer. Nothing WRT this argument has really changed since then. Unimpressed.

  • Chorded Keyboards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:39AM (#40613227)

    If there's one thing that deserves to make a comeback in this mobile world, it's chorded keyboards. QWERTY sucks on mobile devices because it takes up too much space, especially a physical board. On the other hand, you could probably put enough keys (say, three for each hand) on the back of a mobile device to make them practical physical keyboards without taking up valuable real estate that could be used for the screen.

    • But the chorded keyboard is not self explanatory. It is reasons like that that cause things to flop, it is why nobody ever likes predictive text unless you do like it, in which case you like it very much! I remember someone talking about a 'revolutionary' typing corrector for a smartphone keyboard, when it was just doing the same thing as predictive text and guessing what letter you wanted from where your fingers were mashing the screen.

      People's biggest hurdle learning to type is that qwerty jumbles up the

  • Fingertip sized? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:39AM (#40613229)

    Who's fingertip? a four year old girl's fingers or a my sausage sized fingers? Finger tip size varies a lot.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:42AM (#40613265) Homepage

    "Have you stopped beating your wife?"

    We don't "love" qwerty. It's what we use. Little more than that. The learning curve is horrible, but once you got it, learning anything after that would be more painful than it would be worth.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto [wikipedia.org]

    The English language has all sorts of grammar, spelling, and pronunciation problems. It's a nasty difficult to learn mix of germanic and romance language pronounciation and word derivations. Take the word "Sure". Where is the "H" in "sure"? Speaking of "where", why is it not "ware"? And what the bleep is up with "cough", "dough", and "plough"? Ridiculous nonsense, horrible language with too many idiosyncratic oddities to learn.

    And yet it remains an international standard for business. Why? History, that's why.

    And that history locks the language in this role is the deciding factor, regardless of how much more intelligently designed, more easily learned, more easily understood, that Esperanto is.

    And same applies to the QWERTY keyboard. I am certain there are more intelligent designs out there, like the dvorak:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard [wikipedia.org]

    And so why hasn't the dvorak caught on? And why won't this new keyboard catch on? Historical lock in, that's why.

  • by SteelKidney (1964470) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @08:46AM (#40613301)
    Small bug in the software. If you mis-key something, you're immediately killed in a plastic-coated room lined with pictures of your misspelled words.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:01AM (#40613437) Homepage Journal

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

    Is it a slow news week?

  • by whois (27479) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:21AM (#40613671) Homepage

    The next or next-next generation is who is going to determine what new keyboard wins out. As an old-school mouse fps player I first derided and now am simply amazed people can play fps with any accuracy on joystick, but it makes sense that with enough precision and enough training it would work for people.

    The same with texting, I never got the number pad type "type with both thumbs" style, but kids caught on and learned all the key combinations and it got big, then they had contests to see how fast people could text on them. Then they rolled out smartphones and everyone went back to qwerty soft keyboards but still the idea was there that there was a new means of input.

    I don't think there will be an invented "better input method' though. Usually this stuff catches on by accident, or by repeated incremental refinements until it's naturally integrated into peoples lives. Using the joystick example, imagine someone trying to play an FPS with an atari or NES controller. While the phone layout hasn't changed for ages, I can't really see people texting on the old analog cellphones from the 80's and 90's, the buttons were made not for tactile feedback but to be reliable and keep the dirt out, you would quickly get tired and be frustrated at how hard the button had to be pressed and the accuracy.

  • by Coward Anonymous (110649) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:31AM (#40613815)

    On your handheld of choice add a regional keyboard you are not familiar with. Say if you are American, use a French or German keyboard. If European vice versa.
    Type an e-mail or note. Note how you have no problem finding the keys unlike on a full size keyboard where you keep having to searching for the right keys.

    Apparently at the touch screen handheld size, the keyboard is small enough to fit in your entire field of vision so that the actual placement of the keys is not critical.

    It is possible that a physical keyboard layout at that size is important but for touch screens it seems to be irrelevant.

  • The ideal layout (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dixie_Flatline (5077) <vincent DOT jan DOT goh AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @09:56AM (#40614173) Homepage

    The ideal smartphone layout would move letters that have similar placements in words as far apart from one another as possible.

    Bat
    Bet
    Bit
    Bot
    But

    That's a pretty trivial example, but it takes no effort to come up with examples where letters get confused for one another and a predictive text system has no way of knowing whether you meant to do that or not. I type 'of' or 'if' each in place of the other about a dozen times a day. It makes me nuts.

    The whole keyboard is trivially reachable, so I don't think that it's worth worrying about letter frequency and how fast you can move your fingers to type. We should be trying to make the keyboard properly enhance and support predictive text systems. The faster you can type out--without errors--the first recognisable part of a word, the faster the autocorrect system can make a guess for you. Don't fight it, USE it.

    Autocorrect is only makes ridiculous mistakes right now because of the way that we've got our letters grouped together. We end up sending it confusing cues, so of course it picks strange words.

    This 'dextr' layout looks terrible. Not only is it huge, it doesn't actually solve the problem. The vowels are cleverly stacked on top of one another, which is probably going to lead to just as many accidental vowel replacements as before, just different kinds. Letters that can often replace one another in words are still right next to each other.

    I believe there could be a better texting keyboard than qwerty, but this sure isn't it.

  • by Insightfill (554828) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @10:39AM (#40614595) Homepage
    I always liked the FITALY [wikipedia.org] keyboard on the old Palm Pilots for single finger/stylus entry. Letters were arranged the common letters in the middle (e, n) and they get progressively less common as you move out. It minimizes the amount of travel of the input device.

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