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CreaBros Oy: Are touch screens the future or do physical keyboard make a comeback?

Are touch screens the future or do physical keyboard make a comeback?

Sep 23, 06:59 AM

World seems to have gone to touch when it comes to mobile phones. I have one, my wife has one, my daughters have, except for my youngest and she wants one. Is there a future for non touch screen or hybrid phones? Here are few observations that came to me today.

I spent my evening at the local football pitch learning how to train kids in the art of playing the beautiful game. So basically I was being coached on how to be a good coach. Theme of the evening was Horst Wein small sided games and how they are used to train children. Group of ten and eleven year old boys were being trained by our excellent head coach and we observed and hopefully learned how to train our own teams better. One of the drills required timing how quickly can three boys pass the ball and score a goal. A stopwatch was required. Now if anybody has read this column I have written a pretty good stopwatch the Touchy Feely Stopwatch , at least in my humble opinion, for Nokias touchscreen phones, but unfortunately my N8 had died in a rain storm few weeks earlier so I had to settle to my backup phone Apples iPhone 4 and its stopwatch. First touch on the ball! I started my timer. Pass, pass, shot and a goal! Yes, he shoots he scores and now I look how quickly it was done? 00:00:00:0 This can’t be right! Three kids played their hearts out and I didn’t have a score. I had missed the button that starts the timer. Well next time it worked and the next, but then I missed the stop button. I couldn’t tell where buttons are when I was looking when to press them. Luckily I learned quickly, but I also learned that a traditional dedicated stopwatch might be more advantageous in some instances.

I don’t like sending text messages, never did, but I send less than I did in the past. Why is that. Well if you dear reader bothered to read previous story then you know that I lost my N8 to rain storm and now I use an old iPhone 4, which I guess is an ok phone though it loses signal bit too easy. But still I don’t like texting. Because iPhone has smaller SIM slot than N8 I couldn’t move my SIM card to iPhone when my N8 stopped working. I guess I could cut it, but I’m still hoping to get a new N8 or perhaps N9 to replace the old one. Anybody who has used call forwarding knows that though you can make all calls go to another device the SMS traffic will still go to that device not be forwarded. So to remedy this I put my SIM card into an old N96 phone. Now I get my text messages, which I check once or twice a week (yes I don’t like to be reachable anywhere anytime). Sometimes I have to answer the messages and to my surprise texting was surprisingly easy. Well much easier than with N8 or iPhone4. Why is this? I don’t even use the predictive typing, because language is always wrong. So for letter ‘c’ I press 2 for three times and so on. Still this was faster than typing with the touchscreen. Why? Well because I can type much quicker and without looking with the physical keyboard than with the touchscreen.

So is the physical keyboard better and consumers wrong? Well yes and no. Physical keyboard is good for the single function that it was designed for, but it has a serious limitation. It cannot change its shape and appearance. With limited space on a mobile device it used to be that keyboard took about half of surface area. While it was good for calling and texting that part of the area was lost to applications such as web browsers or games. Writing is an essential activity for any computer user, but perhaps it isn’t so essential for a mobile user. No matter how good a mobile keyboard is it still is pretty bad for entering a lot of text. That is why we carry netbooks or laptops. For mobile devices, however, our use case is different. We are not producers of text with mobile devices we are consumers. Does our radio or television set (remember those) have a keyboard? Hardly, even though the entertainment sets remote control is larger than your average mobile phone it rarely has a keyboard. That is because we don’t want to write anything to our TV or Radio and same goes for mobile phones.

I don’t think there is going back to physical keyboards on mobile devices. Once in a while someone will create one, but in the future we will solve our need to enter text to our phones using different methods.

Kalle Kuismanen

Mobile, Random

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