Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Palm Pre Gets An Onscreen Keyboard. Yay?

PhotobucketPhotobucket One of the reasons why I never got an iPhone was because I could never get used to its virtual keyboard. Still, once an onscreen keyboard became available for the Pre which was relatively easy to install, it made sense to at least give it a try. And the results were about what I had expected. While the ingenuity of the Virtual Keyboard is admirable (when tap the "Sym" button, you can scroll down and enter any symbol that the keyboard is capable of entering), it is ultimately too small to use comfortably especially in comparison with the Pre's slide out hardware keyboard.

There are also other problems. While the Pre's built-in error correction is fairly meager compared to that of the iPhone, it does come in handy for little things like putting apostrophes in contractions and automatically capitalizing letters at the beginning of sentences. This does not work with the Virtual Keyboard even though realistically, you will tend to make more typos with it than you would with the hardware keyboard—disappointing to say the least.

But the Virtual Keyboard does have its uses. It's great for pulling up recently visited pages and bookmarks in the web browser which usually come up after typing a couple of letters. It's a small thing but it is potentially very convenient since you no longer have to slide open the keyboard in order to type two or three characters.

More than anything else, the Virtual Keyboard makes me miss Palm's old Graffiti writing system. A fairly simple, easy to learn set of onscreen strokes which allowed users to enter information without any kind of keyboard, Graffiti was one of the things that got me hooked on the old PalmOS. And it would be a nice thing for some enterprising developer to try to bring to the Palm Pre.

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