15.12.10

SlideIT

These are my extemporaneous thoughts on the Android keyboard replacement SlideIT(demo version) from Dasur Ltd. This was written as a test, using SlideIT on my mobile and only slightly edited. Note I currently use ShapeWriter for my keyboard and will be comparing the two.

It looks almost like the stock keyboard. The color is different, but I like the return to the larger keys. There is a switch for touch vs slide typing too. And a key for voice input! But I hit it too often trying to hit the adjacent comma key. Punctuation is more difficult to get to than in ShapeWriter. It has an alt key to access numbers and symbols on another keyboard, as in the st stock keyboard. Also it lacks ShapeWriter's capitalization toggle key, which I find invaluable. The capitalize key uses a long press instead double press. (I had to look that up to figure it out.)

Oh cool. There are short cuts. Slide the acronym for a phrase, say "ATM", and it will bring up ATM in green in the suggestions pane. Press it and it will automatically fill in the phrase, in this case "at the moment." Short cuts can be edited and you can add your own.

The slide mechanism seems to be less forgiving than ShapeWriter's. There have been so many times with ShapeWriter where I "shaped" a word and ShapeWriter got it correct when I know I barely spelled it. SlideIT throws up many more "??" saying it doesn't know what you are trying to type. ShapeWriter appears to guess more words and display more suggestions in my opinion.

Speaking of the suggestion pane, it is much thinner than ShapeWriter's. But they had to get space for larger keys from somewhere I suppose.

SlideIT does have function keys for cut, copy, and paste in the numbers/symbols keyboard instead of ShapeWriter's shape gestures.

The slide gestures disappear as you type, after an adjustable delay. This can come in handy typing especially long words. When slide typing only the first letter of the word is highlighted however. I find it much more helpful when all the letters are highlighted.

Oh another find. In the numbers and symbols keyboard there is a toggle to change the lower two rows of symbols. It includes the usual punctuation but adds a few math symbols, some super script numbers and fractions, trademark and similar symbols. There are also arrow keys. A thumb tack switch to prevent the keyboard from returning to letter mode is useful too.

In landscape mode and in the alt keyboard there is a G key that brings up a graffiti mode. Unfortunately it only supports numbers and some punctuation.

I think that covers most of it. I believe SlideIT is a valid choice for slide-type replacement keyboard for Android devices. I absolutely love the short cut function. The larger key size is more pleasing to the eye, and a tap/slide switch is a feature I wish ShapeWriter had. Another point in SlideIT's favour: its size. It is half the size of ShapeWriter and a quarter of that of Swype, the leading continuous touch keyboard on the market.

That said, I still think ShapeWriter writes better, which is the whole point. Whether that stems mostly from familiarity or not I can't say for sure yet. After using the demo for just a few minutes I like it much better than Swype. I could see using SlideIT for my primary keyboard if I didn't have one for free already.  Unfortunately, Nuance(the speech software firm) bought ShapeWriter and took it off the market for now, so I can't recommend it. SlideIT seems like a viable alternative and if circumstances were different I would buy it, and still may yet.

17.9.10