One of the reasons many people find it easier to type on the iPhone’s virtual keyboard than on the on-screen keyboard that comes with Google Android is because the iPhone looks at the letters you’re typing and makes an educated guess as to which letters you might hit next — and automatically adjusts the area around each of those keys to help reduce typos.
For instance, say you hit Q. Odds are, the next letter you want is going to be U, not Y. So the iPhone or iPod touch will give you a bit of extra leeway. If your finger presses the edge of the Y button close to the U button, it will register a U instead of a Y.
Android doesn’t do this. But there’s a third party application called ThickButtons which is now available as a public beta that offers the same functionality for Android.
There’s one major difference between the way ThickButtons works and the way the iPhone keyboard works though — ThickButtons will visually increase the size of some keys and reduce the size of others as you type.
In theory, this should make typing on a Google Android phone much faster and more accurate. In practice, it’s pretty confusing. Keys keep resizing dynamically, making it hard to figure out where to place your thumb.
After using ThickButtons for a few minutes, I found that the keyboard actually slowed me down rather than speeding me up. I suspect if I use it for a few more days that could change.
I’m also the equivalent of a hunt and peck typist on smartphone keyboards. If you find that you can type on the normal Android keyboard without looking down at the keys, I suspect that ThickButtons won’t be as visually confusing, and could actually speed up your typing considerably.
ThickButtons beta is available for free from the Android Market. In order to activate the keyboard, go to your phone’s settings and select Language & keyboard and then check the buton next to ThickButtons. Next time you bring up the keyboard to enter text, just click-and-hold the ?123 button until you see a pop up window. Press the Input Method button and choose ThickButtons.
You can check out a demo video of ThickButtons in action after the break.