Tech

Curious Kickstarter: Next Keyboard for iOS

by . January 19th, 2015

I really like this product.

or rather am really interested in it. Kind of a stretch of a post with only five days to go, but what the heck. Only found this recently, pledged to it right away.

With iOS8 out, I’ve been on a custom keyboard spree. There are gimmicky ones out there for gifs and drawings, and performance-related ones that make sure you type faster and more comfortably.

So far as a main, non-gimmicky keyboard, I first tried NinType which caught me with its fast typing speed. I tried it for a week and decided it wasn’t for me. I had to reprogram the way I thought about typing and it was really difficult. You sort of need a really good memory of the qwerty keyboard and the relative space between each letter in order for it to work.

I then tried SwiftKey and I love it. It’s fast, easier to learn, and really intuitive. There are some concerns however. Despite having the most amazing word-prediction I’ve seen, it goes against you when you want to tag someone on Facebook, but only using their first name. When needing to type something like “Hoogie Check this out!”, it’ll end up looking like “HoogieCheckEspinosa this out!” It gets really annoying when you want your Facebook posts to be clear of ridiculously long names or annoying ones you’d expect a 13 year old to name his original anime character. I hope they get this fixed.

I also don’t like how spaces are not made right after a punctuation mark.

NextThumb
But anyway, this post is not about NinType or SwiftKey, but about Next. A swipe-to-type keyboard with interesting features that I haven’t really seen anywhere else. Let’s break it down.


1. Quick Cursor Swipe

 


smartcursor
Do you hate editing previous words on your phone, having to hold around that magnifying glass thing, trying to get that exact spot you need? Next gets rid of that by making the spacebar swipeable to move the cursor around. I’m not sure how good this will work, but given the annoyances of Apple’s normal method, I’d wanna try this out.


2. One Tap Emojis

 


onetapemoji
Now, it’s not really one tap as advertised, but Next does make it a lot easier to find your favorite poop smiley. By giving emojis their own button, you don’t have to needlessly switch between keyboards. Also the thumbnails are much smaller now, allowing you to see more at once, without reducing comfort.


3. Next Word Prediciton

 


nextwordprediction
Looks to me like the sentence prediction of Next is up to par with that of SwiftKey. Looking forward to that.


4. Emoji Suggestions

 


emojisuggestion
This is another interesting feature. If you type in a keyword for a specific emoji, you’ll actually be suggested to replace the word with the emoji instead. I like it!


5. Better Shift Key

 


bettershift
This one’s not so big for me, but it may solve a problem for you. The creators of Next have trouble knowing whether the shift key has been pressed or if it’s in capslock mode. So they decided to make it more obvious.


6. Numbers and Punctuation Quick Access

 


punctuation
Rather than clicking that button for a punctuation menu, holding your finger down accesses it. This… worries me. What happens when you need to type a really long aaaaaaaaahhhhhh or if you’re swiping to type and need to pause within a word for a second and think where the next letter is? Making things a hassle for those that still hesitate might steep up the learning curve. I really like how SwiftKey does it with the period already being there and holding it for more common punctuation marks.


7. Custom Keyboard Sounds

Another feature that might bother me, but at least this one’s optional. Custom sounds for each individual key. I personally don’t like keyboard sounds, and it seems to me that the people that will use this feature will abuse it annoyingly with sound effect stingers. Maybe I’m just being pessimistic.


The pledges range from $1 which actually gets you things, the $5 which gets you the keyboard, up to $2,500 that lets you make a custom public theme, and everything in between that gets you different swag including a hoodie with your favorite emoji on it.

So I have some good stuff and some bad stuff to say about the Next. It’d be really interesting to find out what kind of product actually comes out and to see if all of my disappointments are proven wrong or if some of my cheers were too preemptive. Whatever the case, I find this product interesting enough to back it with at least $5. It’s obvious that the group created the product to solve the community’s problems and not their own.

The Next keyboard finishes its campaign in 5 days and comes out by the end of February.

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