How Important Are Keyboards to Your Mobile Experience?

With desktop and laptop computers, keyboards don’t seem to be that important. Usually they get the job done, and they’re either built into the system or added on after without so much as a second thought.

But with mobile devices, it’s different. The ones that are “built in” are less than ideal sometimes, and it leaves users looking for alternate choices like keyboard apps that allow you to “slide” instead of tapping characters and hardware keyboards that can extend a tablet to simulating a laptop. We asked a few of our writers, “How important are keyboards to your mobile experience?”

Trevor feels they’re pretty important and that the “quality” of the keyboard is important as well. “If the predictions are bad or the buttons too big or too small, the inconvenience takes away from wanting to use the device.”

Christopher feels that apps like SwiftKey and TouchPal “mitigate some of my problems with touchscreen keyboards.” Overall, though, he still misses the slide-out keypads early smartphones had. “Tactile feedback makes a huge difference in typing comfort and speed, and you just can’t get that with a uniform, flat screen.”

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Corbin thinks “display size is paramount above all in regards to typing,” moreso than a keyboard. He notes it doesn’t matter how well-designed the keyboard is, “if the display is too small, you won’t be able to get anything done.”

Keyboards are only important for my iPad, not my iPhone. I’m fine with the built-in iOS keyboard on my iPhone. But I just cannot do the “on-board” keyboard on my iPad – not even to type one word. I only use it with an attached keyboard. And even then, it has to emulate a “real” keyboard. Too many times to fit all the keys in a small space, they eliminate certain keys like one of the Shift keys, the Caps Lock, or they move the arrow keys to a weird spot. For my iPad, it’s really important.

What about you? Do you have favorite mobile keyboards that you use? Do you wish you could have the old slide-out keyboards back? Or do you feel the display is more paramount? How important are keyboards to your mobile experience? Join the conversation and let us know below in the comments section.

5 comments

  1. Some times you need TAB and ESC.
    But those are not on a regular Android or iOS on screen keyboard.

  2. Since I had a BAD stroke many years ago, I can only use my left hand – not the right which was my main hand. I find using a keyboard is vital to be getting in touch with anyone!

  3. I found the MyScript Stylus app for my iPad allows me to write with a stylus. At least for me the app accurately converts my writing to text in Pages or whatever app I’m using. MyScript also has MyScript Calculator which is a handwriting based calculator. It is also very accurate and is helpful for those times when you are calculating a mathematical equation.

  4. GOOD tactile keyboards make a huge difference, but so does GOOD tactile feedback (also known as “haptic” feedback) using the device’s vibration motor.

    Unfortunately, most devices and operating systems have a truly awful implementation of it that doesn’t do much to help and that many, including myself, find outright distracting and generally turn off instead.

    There used to be an EXCELLENT utility back in the Windows Mobile days, called TouchResponse by a user named Snailslug with very, very subtle feedback that made your keystroke almost feel you had an HP RPN calculator in your hands. It was that good!

    The way it operated, there was one characteristic duration and intensity for “press in” and another totally different one for “lift off”. You really felt the key “snap in” when you pressed the key and then “snap out” when you liftd your finger. It was uncanny. Unfortunately, the person who made this utility pretty much disappeared and it was in effect, abandoned.

    If by the remote chance Snailslug reads this… WE NEED YOU, MAN!

  5. About three years ago, I purchased an OTG (On The Go) adapter to utilize a wireless Logitech K400r keyboard (with built-in touch-pad) on my Samsung Rush. The Samsung did not see the addition and the venture was unsuccessful. I later replaced the phone with a ZTE Boost Max + which is a bigger phone and Android OS which saw the addition and a curser from the keyboard appeared as well in the phone’s screen. What a pleasantly noticeable difference between the bigger keyboard verses the phone’s much smaller touch screen keyboard!

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