The Key Innovation Missing from iOS

Last night I used my iPhone for the first time in a while, it is an older 3G model, but still works just fine.  A couple of years ago it was my primary device, over the last couple of years I have moved to Android as my primary device, currently using my Droid X.  I also have an iPad (Original not 2) which I use quite a bit. 

Apple has certainly set the standard in the tablet market, and there is still no credible Android competitor on the market yet (the new Samsungs coming soon at least pricewise might be able to compete a little).  Arguably Apple also kicked off the Smartphone revolution when they introduced the iPhone a few years ago (though RIM might disagree with that).

There are many reasons I like Android over iOS, but on of the biggest is typing.  Surprisingly while Apple is clearly a leader and innovator in the mobile/tablet space, they have not done anything to make typing easier, or faster on their devices.  In fact a whole site exists to highlight typos on iPhones.

Here is a look at a few alternate keyboards that I have been using on Android, which make typing easier, and faster.  No I am not saying I never make typos or errant autocorrects when using Android, if you follow me on Twitter you have probably seen some of them, but it is certainly easier and faster to type.

SwiftKey

Swiftkey, similar to the stock Android keyboard predicts what word you want to type next, the difference is it learns from what you have already typed, so if you use a certain phrase repeatedly it learns from that and uses that to generate predictions for you.  For those of you who have ever seen me tweet during a football game this means I type “Touchdown” and Swiftkey knows the next word is “#Giants”.

Swype

Swype is different in that it allows you tp swipe your finger over keys with out taking your finger off the keyboard and does a pretry good job of guessing the word you meant.  You can view some videos of Swype in action on their site.  I find Swype very useful for shorter messages like texts and tweets, not as convenient for longer messages like an e-mail.

BlindType

Google acquired this company last fall, which hints that they are looking to improve the stock Android keyboard, to date I have not seen them ship anything using BlindType, but there is a demo.

Siine

I received an Alpha invite to Siine yesterday, definitely a different approach to a virtual keyboard, and I like the idea, it provides a lot of shortcuts, and easy entry for common tasks.  The only downside is it has a steep learning curve getting used to it, and the standard keyboard it bundles in is not a very good one at all.  I would love to see a cross between Siine and Swiftkey.

There are other keyboards for Android, but you get the idea.  So I wonder why there are no add on keyboards for iOS, well probably because Apple would reject them from the App Store.  I find that I make a lot of mistakes on the iPad, and generally it takes more keystrokes on iOS than Android to accomplish the same things.

Am I missing anything? are there any innovations for typing on iOS that I am missing? If not I wonder if this is something that will be addressed in iOS 5.

2 Responses to The Key Innovation Missing from iOS
  1. Phil Salm
    April 15, 2011 | 11:59 am

    If they’d add backward & forward arrow buttons, I’d be happy. Oh yeah, and Flash support.

  2. Chris Whisonant
    April 15, 2011 | 1:09 pm

    Phil – check out this article before you talk about wanting to have flash on a mobile: http://www.infoworld.com/print/157838 :) Maybe the reason iOS doesn’t have flash is because of how horrible it would perform…

    Anyway, Mitch, one key innovation missing from Droids is the ability to do Screenshots. Me? I don’t have issues with the iPhone keyboard in the 3.5 years I’ve had iPhones. I can even type on it without looking if I want to.