Nov 22 AT 4:48 PM Taylor Wimberly 22 Comments

ThickButtons for Android is my new default virtual keyboard

UPDATE: So I’ve played with ThickButtons since last Thursday and it started to get wonky on me and force close. Tried reinstalling it but the dictionary is not working now. I still think there are some great benefits to this keyboard for small screens, but I’m switching back to the default and waiting on the next release of ThickButtons.

PREVIOUS: Android offers many alternative keyboards and I’ve tried them all, but I often find myself returning to the default stock version because all the others remove features that I use. This past weekend I’ve been testing the latest version of ThickButtons (0.9) and it’s the first virtual keyboard that I actually prefer over Google’s.

ThickButtons has come a long way since we first previewed it back in March. The best things about this virtual keyboard is that it does not change the default layout and all the standard features are still included. Instead, the developers of ThickButtons just took the stock keyboard and then added their own enhancements on top of it.

As a user begins to type a word, the ThickButtons keyboard uses predictive text and your dictionary to highlight the next letter of the word it thinks you are typing. It works just like the normal predictive text of the Android keyboard, but ThickButtons also includes the option to change the size of the letters to make it easier to type. Upcoming letters are highlighted and made bigger while letters that are unlikely to be used are made smaller.

For Android phones with a smaller display (2.8 to 3.2 inches), ThickButtons is the perfect keyboard to improve the overall typing experience. ThickButtons recently conducted some usability testing with users who had no previous touchscreen experience and measured a 24% improvement in typing speed  and 31% improvement in accuracy versus the stock keyboard.

Dimitri Lisitski, CEO for ThickButtons, also announced the new features were coming for speed typers. “For example, some experienced users complained that the buttons couldn’t keep up with their fingers if they typed fast.  We are adding a second prediction algorithm in the upcoming version so that even experienced users can type more quickly and accurately on their touchscreens.”

The new version of ThickButtons (0.9) is a preview and Version 1.0 will be shipped on handsets in spring 2011.

The commercial version will feature all these improvements and more, including support for 25 languages. The final version will also be provided pre-installed on select handsets in the first half of 2011, much like the agreement Swype has with handset makers.

If you have never tried ThickButtons, take a few minutes and check it out. Installation instructions can be found on the ThickButtons site. Please let us know what you think of the latest ThickButtons and visit their online community if you have any feature request.

A few of the improvements found in the new free release include:

  • Typing in Spanish, German, English, French and Italian
  • Voice input for Android 2.2 (FroYo) users
  • Smarter support of landscape mode
  • Performance improved

 

Show Press Release

THICKBUTTONS RELEASES COOL IMPROVEMENTS IN NEW FREE VERSION OF TOUCHSCREEN TYPING APP: 31% Improved Accuracy, 24% Improved Speed
Ahead of Massive 2011 Release

(PALO ALTO, CA, November 22, 2010) – ThickButtons <http://thickbuttons.com/>  today released a new free version of its touchscreen typing app on the Android Market with improvements including expanded languages, voice interface for FroYo users, and other small changes that together have yielded 31% improved accuracy and 24% improved speed over QWERTY keyboards in usability tests <http://www.thickbuttons.com/index.php?f=usability> .

A few of the improvements found in the new free release include:

  • Typing in Spanish, German, English, French and Italian;
  • Voice input for FroYo users;
  • Smarter support of landscape mode.


The new free version 0.9 is a preview of ThickButtons 1.0, which will be shipped on handsets in spring 2011.  The commercial version will feature all these improvements and more, including support for 25 languages and a new prediction algorithm to match the speed of fast typers. The commercial version will be provided pre-installed on select handsets in the first half of 2011.

First released in March of 2010, the ThickButtons alpha version introduced a smarter, easier and more accurate way to type on your touchscreen Android phone.ThickButtons improves ease and accuracy on the touchscreen by shrinking the letters that are not likely to be used and enlarging the buttons that are.
“We always knew that Thickbuttons was cool and fun to use, but these tests validate that Thickbuttons really does make you faster and more accurate on a touchscreen phone,” said Dimitri Lisitski, CEO for ThickButtons.  “The tests measured typing speed and accuracy on users who had never tried ThickButtonsbefore. The results were impressive:  24% improvement in typing speed, and 31% improvement in accuracy – and users without any previous experience with touchscreens showed even more improvement.”  (See more about the usability test at http://www.ThickButtons.com/index.php?f=usability).
While the underlying science and algorithms are complicated, the interface is simple: unlike most dictionary-based prediction technologies that guess the full word during the typing process, ThickButtons finds it much easier to predict the letters unlikely to be used and make them smaller, leaving rest of the text more accessible. With ThickButtons technology, the size of a phone screen is less of an issue because the buttons are enlarged.

As for the other improvements, Lisitski is proud that nearly all of them were voted up on ThickButtons’ community page:  “We heard from our 140,000 beta users that they loved that they didn’t have to learn a new typing method to use Thickbuttons,” he said.  “But we also heard about things like the lack of FroYo voice inputs, support for more languages, and other small changes that we’ve corrected in this version.  For example, some experienced users complained that the buttons couldn’t keep up with their fingers if they typed fast.  We are adding a second prediction algorithm in the upcoming version so that even experienced users can type more quickly and accurately on their touchscreens.  We love this kind of feedback, it only makes us better.”
ThickButtons 0.9 will be available for download on the Android Market starting today.

About ThickButtons
Founded in November 2008, ThickButtons introduces a technology that makes text input on touchscreen smartphones, even small ones, easy, convenient and accurate. ThickButtons´ technology is based on the premise that it’s much easier to predict which letters are unlikely to be used than to guess the full word, as other prediction technologies do. ThickButtons then shrinks the less-used letters out of the way, which leaves room to enlarge the letters a user needs. Input is easy, with no need to learn a new typing method. ThickButtons is less dependent on dictionary input than other predictive technologies, and therefore learns new words like slang and Instant Message or SMS acronyms quickly. The beta version of ThickButtons for Android is available on Android Market (market://search?q=pname:com.thickbuttons) . The full commercial version will be provided pre-installed on handsets. The company is self-funded and has 6 employees in Silicon Valley and Ukraine. For more information please visit www.ThickButtons.com <http://www.thickbuttons.com/> .

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

    Most Tweeted This Week