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iPhone Keyboard Leads to Typso 394

jfruhlinger writes "One of the selling points of the iPhone was its revolutionary touch-screen full keyboard. But a study has shown that text messages sent from iPhones contain significantly more typso than messages from phones with other kinds of keyboards — and aren't entered any faster."
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iPhone Keyboard Leads to Typso

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  • by dotancohen ( 1015143 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:46AM (#21349645) Homepage
    hu kars so lng as u cn reed it?

    Seriously, I've been seeing typing like this appear in blogs recently. Apparently, a certain cellphone-enabled generation is learning that this type of spelling is acceptable. It is not any one cellphone's fault, and it's not the interface's fault either. Guess who is responsible for teaching our children how to spell?
  • not suprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yold ( 473518 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:48AM (#21349677)
    my only gripe about the iPhone is a lack of hardware keyboard. Seriously, once you have a normal thumb keyboard, you won't want to go back to tapping the screen. Especially for business emails, keystroke accuracy is essential. Misspellings make you look like a moron.
  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:52AM (#21349741)
    I am wondering about that as well. on the ipod touch i tested at bestbuy I was able to easily spell into safari on the first try. The auto correct spelling was very easy to learn.

    I wonder if they are dealing with the iPhone knockoffs that are running windows mobile?
  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:53AM (#21349755) Homepage

    The little article I saw about this said they measured people for a month with three keyboards: QWERTY (i.e. blackberry), numeric (i.e. RAZR), and iPhone. They said the iPhone people typed faster, but had more errors.

    I wonder if this was fair. The people they found had no experience with the iPhone I'm guessing. But had they used the other two before? Or were these people who never did any kind of text messaging before on the other kinds of phones, or had they used them just a little? That could make a difference.

    Does anyone know? This article doesn't seem to mention this either.

    I don't own an iPhone, I've only touched one a handful of times.

  • by Vadim Grinshpun ( 31 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:54AM (#21349763) Homepage
    Could it be because you can't "feel" the keys? I don't have an iPhone (though I did get to play with one a few times), but the main thing I didn't like about it is that you (1) have to look at the keyboard/keypad to use it (and can't feel your way through it), and (2) at least to me as a newbie, it was not always clear exactly which part of the fingertip is touching the screen, and thus how to place the finger. I'm guessing that the latter is a matter of experience, but the former seems like a real hurdle, since you can't really touch-type. And if you want better accuracy, you do want to touch-type, methinks.

  • by BMonger ( 68213 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:54AM (#21349767)
    I often type words incorrectly on my iPhone but it corrects them most of the time. On occasion it replaces them with an incorrect word especially if you're not typing a "real word" (oh becomes on). Is "hai 2 u! ttyl omg" considered a typo? It should be... :)

    Also I believe the iPhone learns how you type as you use it more and will even start correcting to incorrect words if you force them often enough. Were these people using clean install iPhones? If so that would contribute to it. If the people who were trying them out that were accustomed to the normal phones were using the same iPhones it would be using the other persons mistakes to make corrections which would lead to possibly more mistakes.

    In all honesty though... just look at your message before you send it?
  • by Jupix ( 916634 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:54AM (#21349775)
    Not every iPhone user writes in a language supported by the spell checker.
  • Re:not suprising (Score:2, Insightful)

    by psych-major ( 767984 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:59AM (#21349851)
    This would imply that the iPhone can even attach to an exchange server like every other smart phone on the planet, but it can' typos on work emails are essentially a non-issue...See Apple thinks of everything...;) When I compare my co-workers iPhone to my Treo (an older 650 at that) his lacks in every way except the web browser...but at least he didn't pay 5 times as much as I did, oh wait...
  • Re:not suprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by teh kurisu ( 701097 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:59AM (#21349853) Homepage

    I've tried the qwerty keyboards on a Nokia E61 and an iPod Touch. The iPod Touch keyboard is far superior, in my opinion. The E61 keys are lined up in a grid and not like a real qwerty keyboard, they're smaller and closer together and they have to be pushed quite hard for them to register (in comparison, the iPod Touch only requires the lightest touch). It's also difficult to see at a glance which key is which, because it's cluttered up with symbols and numbers (as you can't switch keyboards like you can on the iPod Touch).

    For business emails, I'd expect the sender to proof-read before hitting send, no matter what type of keyboard they used.

  • by lamarguy91 ( 1101967 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @12:00PM (#21349867)
    Before everyone points at the iPhone, has anyone stopped to take the user-base into consideration? The iPhone user-base isn't the same as bunch of professionals typing e-mails on their desktops or business users tapping away on their Blackberries.

    I bet if the same type of study was done with Sidekick users, we'd see a higher error rate as well.

    I'm not saying that the phone interface doesn't have anything to do with it. I would never buy one as it doesn't have a keyboard. I simply think the user-base needs to be taken into consideration.

    FTA: "iPhone owners also left an average of 2.6 errors/completed message created on the iPhone compared to an average of 0.8 errors/completed message left by hard-key QWERTY phone owners on their own phone."

    So is user-laziness a factor here as well? It says that the user "left" errors in the message. I make errors in typing all the time, but I usually correct them. Why not conduct a study to see what the error-rate is without letting the users make corrections. That would be the best way to see just how accurate initial text input was.
  • Re:not suprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @12:05PM (#21349945) Homepage

    If it's an important business e-mail, you should be proofreading it anyway. No interface is immune to typos, and even with a spell-check, you can still get the wrong word. Like "it's" and "its", "their" and "there", or "whole" and "hole".

    If you don't proofread important documents and communications, then you're going to look like a moron. The input device doesn't matter.

  • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @12:07PM (#21349971) Journal
    There's a difference between accent/dialect and being a lazy bastard.

    -or and -our have quite different pronunciations, and the way we pronounce color over here, sounds nothing like colour. It has nothing to do with being lazy. This difference is more like cockney (sp?) vs. standard British English.
  • by Odonian ( 730378 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @12:16PM (#21350083)
    The 'revolutionary' thing about the iPhone touch keyboard is not that it's a better keyboard than a real tactile one. In fact, it's worse than a real keyboard in terms of accuracy and speed, even with the spell correcting and magnifying keys and click sound etc. The real value of the iPhone keyboard is that it does not take up real estate on your phone, which leaves room for a big screen for other things; pictures, movies, maps, etc. without making the phone a huge unwieldy monster.

    In spite of it's shortcomings, it is still more than sufficient for typing search keywords, web urls, quick messages and replies, but if you are a mobile email addict and actually send lots of email, you are probably better off with a blackberry.

  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @12:16PM (#21350087)
    BUT, it must be noted that this does show that language changes. Color is currently an accepted (and indeed, the normal) spelling of that work in the US, but once upon a time, it would have been a blatantly wrong misspelling. Enough people used it though, and it was integrated.

    Seriously, I'd wager that within 150 years elite will be an archaic spelling of the more common and perfectly correct spelling: leet.

  • by WebCowboy ( 196209 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @12:23PM (#21350185)
    If you fat finger something, back up and fix it. Its not the phones fault, its the end user's fault.

    SteveJ's reality distortion field is still going strong. I don't think I've come across any product defect or design flaw in an Apple product that hasn't had at least one Apple apologist step up and blame the customer. I remember early colour Powerbooks (the 1st-gen PowerPC ones) that had a lot of problems with power cord connectors and battery charging and though most users complained and Apple even admitted fault and issued a recall, there were a number of Apple fans who derided users for misusing or abusing their precious Powerbooks. Later there were white MacBooks that started to discolour after a few weeks of regular use. It couldn't be that snow-white was an impractical choice for a laptop enclosure, or that the plastic or protective coatings were not of high quality--it was the fault of users with their sweaty grubby hands (never mind that the cheap and not-so-cheerful Dells went far longer before showing wear or discolouring).

    Right from the days of the ZX81 and Atari 400 until today, it has been proven time and again that flat, non-tactile keyboard surfaces are inferior to keyboards/keypads with raised keys and tactile feedback when it comes to any sort of serious typing. This study regarding the iPhone's on-screen touch-keyboard is not the least bit surprising. Certainly it is no more surprising than an iEnthusiast complaining that users must evolve to accommodate their beloved Apple products.

    If you use your mobile for a lot of text messaging the iPhone is an inferior product and you should get a Blackberry instead. That doesn't mean the iPhone isn't pretty or cool or useful for other things, but it is what it is. It isn't stupid user's fault for iPhone typos, it is the design of the iPhone itself. It isn't meant to be a "text message machine"--it merely offers something "good enough" to do the occasional text message when you need to.
  • by aproposofwhat ( 1019098 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @12:30PM (#21350259)
    Alternatively, one could posit the hypothesis that the typical iPhone user can't spell to save their life, being more likely to be young creative types than to be older, wiser and more careful when texting.

    Seriously, though, Apple have always been touted for their interface design, and it seems strange to me that iPhone text entry should be so error prone.

    Perhaps they were so eager to launch the product that this aspect of the interface received limited testing?

  • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @12:32PM (#21350289) Journal
    I can see that, because I've actually seen it pronounced as 'leet', likewise, to my dismay, "you" will degrade to "u" probably.

    However, the swapping of numbers will probably never become official, nor will the intentional misspellings that really don't result in a pronunciation near what they are supposed to spell.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @12:38PM (#21350385) Journal

    Laptops are the way they are, BIG, because they keyboard needs to be big. If you ever have been forced to use a small keyboard, or even one of those horrible flat ones without physical keys you will know why. Our fingers just ain't that accurate while typing. I can blind type fairly but my fingers still depend heavily on the shape of the keys to press the right one.

    That is the reason keys on your keybaord are tapered like / \ that so that two keys next to each other /i\ /o\ have a large space between them so that if you slightly miss one you don't hit another.

    Keys are also slightly curved inwards for even better guidance of your fingers. Work with a keyboard that doesn't have this and watch your accuracy drop.

    This has always been a weakness with touchscreens. For display stands the keyboard is a necesarry evil, while you could do LOTS of intresting things with a touch screen as the input method, the simple fact is that if you want people to start typing, they want/need/expect a traditional keyboard with properly shaped and spaced keys. If people only have to make the most basic inputs, a touch screen will do, and can in many ways help avoid wrong inputs. (Experiment, Prompt the user to enter Y/N, and record what keys they actually press. WARNING: you will loose all fate in humanity when you see the results. Intresting side note, once had a display that at one point asked the user to touch the screen to continue. Should have known better then to use this for a display at a household show. The women touched the screen alright, the sides, the top, the bottom, everything BUT the screen. Granted this was some time ago)

    The iPhones touch screen is in many ways totally crap, no tactile feedback on where your fingers are (no homekeys), no tactile feedback on a keypress/release. Way too closely spaced. The "advantage" it has is that physical keyboards at that size are little better, and very prone to breaking.

    Why do you think over all these years we still have keyboards with physical keys that are still the same shape as they were on typewriters from before the war? They work.

  • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @12:47PM (#21350533) Journal
    ahh, yes, because gasoline is the only type of petrolium that cars have ever run on. Good thing there aren't and have never been, say, diesel cars! Oh wait... Thare have been, and from what I understand, they have been quite popular in europe.

    Yes, it is fairly clear from the context, but people are more likely to think of air from the word gas than they are plastic from petrolium. Contextually, petrol also makes a lot of sense and wouldn't be mistaken for plastic (or the more likely misunderstanding, petrolium jelly).
  • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @12:52PM (#21350645) Homepage

    Thanks for that, I hadn't caught it. But people could only be used to the iPhone for 2-3 months at this point. You could have been using a QWERTY or numeric phone keypad for text entry for years. So it's still possible that it's not a fair comparison. I'd just like to know more before I believe it better. If this was done a year from now I'd be more apt to believe it... but the iPhone is just so new compared to the other solutions.

    You've used a QWERTY keyboard. You've used a calculator. Combine the two and you get a Blackberry keyboard. Handheld organizers for years and years and years have used little keyboards like that. Spell checkers too.

    As for the numeric option, many people here have been using that system (to a small degree) for years to dial phone numbers like 1-800-BUY-STUF. That's not quite new either. Again, the key layout is like a calculator.

    But the iPhone doesn't have analogs that have existed before to any degree, at least not that the majority of people have used.

    A month seems like quite a bit of time... but their sample size wasn't very big either.

    I'm just not sure I trust this with what I know about it.

  • by jinxidoru ( 743428 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @12:54PM (#21350683) Homepage
    I think the study is probably not the greatest study. They are using 20 people in each group. That is a ridiculously small sample group. They also claim that people don't improve with experience. Here is the paragraph:

    Surprisingly, the study found that iPhone texters don't improve with experience. The researchers also asked users in the other groups to send text messages using the iPhone. These novice iPhone users made mistakes at the same rate as people who have owned iPhones for at least one month, the study found.

    With only 20 people in the entire sample group, we are looking at a very small number of people in the novice vs. experienced study.

    I love my iPhone's keyboard. Though I admit that it took time to become accustomed to its use, I now find that I am much faster on the iPhone than on other devices. I think one element of the speed is getting to the point where you accept typos because you know that the iPhone's spell-checker will automatically fix the errors.
  • how could you be the first person to post this?

    touch-typing works because you can feel where your hands are over the keyboard. You can feel when a key has been pressed. Without that tactile feedback, you cannot touch type, and (surprise!) you wont be able to improve your typing speed/accuracy. (You will always be hunting and pecking on the iPhone.)

    The apple people knew that, and they made a conscious decision to sacrifice typing speed for screen real-estate.

    Seems to have paid off.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @01:32PM (#21351349)
    99% of English speakers will not read "leet" as "elite", so it won't catch on.
  • by lubricated ( 49106 ) <> on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @02:14PM (#21352093)
    It could also imply that those that get iphones are more likely to misspell shit. i.e. iphones attract misspellers.
  • by EdelFactor19 ( 732765 ) <adam@edelstein.alum@rpi@edu> on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @02:56PM (#21352775)
    this study as presented in the article is a quality POS.

    they fail to demonstrate significant control, any decent hypothesis, or results as to the findings. and while im sure they withheld some of this because its a brief article, some of they things they do say seem to be troubling.

    Major problems?
    sample size; the first thing you learn in stat. methods is that if your sample size is inadequate, and misrepresents the population at large your results are not translatable to the world at large. They admit the population is tiny; and they also suggest that their method of experimentation is shaky at best.

    mastery level: having an iPhone for a month doesn't necessarily constitute significant use or mastery. It will vary with peoples usage of the keyboard on it. Some people will type more on it in a day than many do in a week. this is challenging because I've had a cellphone for at least 6 years (granted never a fullkeyboard style one) and I've sent a total of maybe 3 text messages. The experience I have is mostly from entering peoples info into the phone; which of course i check carefully as i enter it.

    The selection itself would likely present problems
    you would have to have several different controlled groups

    - never used an iphone or a fullkeyed phone (I'll leave out the non full-key cellphones for this discussion) for extensive text messaging
    - moderate usage of just one (2 more groups)
    - moderate usage of prior to moderate iphone usage (1 more group)

    even your control group (never used anything) will end up being fragmented to overcome ordering effects
    a portion will have to use the iphone first and then the alternative (testing them immediately when given and then retested after decided significant amount of usage has occurred)
    a portion will have to use the alternative first and then the iphone (same as above)
    and a third group who are just given the pretests for both

    this ends up requiring A LOT of people. hooray for factorial experimentation and simultaneous between/within group fun.

    as always there is a very large problem of "no Joe Average" for this kind of ui/human factors stuff forcing you to have to deal with the varied experience levels that people have.

    bottom line is that I don't know that 1 month is as significant a legup as they make it out to be.
  • by Baerinin ( 672627 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @02:56PM (#21352787)
    Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford