5 weird and wonderful smartphone keyboards

Mobile phone keyboards don’t always play by the rules – check out this motley collection of convention-defying rogues

News that Microsoft may be plotting a bizarre curved keyboard for Windows Phone 8 prompted us to think about the most unusual smartphone keyboards and keyboard technologies around. Here are our top five choices.

According to WMPoweruser, who say they obtained this picture from a leaked Microsoft Research presentation, this is the new software keyboard for Windows Phone 8. Designed for one-handed thumb typing, it’s curved and features a QWERTY layout – but with keys grouped together; presumably, predictive tech will help by working out what you’re trying to type. It bears more than a slight resemblance to the curved touch keyboards seen previously on those ill-fated Windows-based ultra-mobile PCs like the Samsung Q1; here’s hoping it works a little more smoothly.

 

Windows 8 Phone curved keyboard (rumoured)

We’re huge fans of Swype (read our review), which cuts down your texting time by letting you swipe (fancy that!) a single finger across a virtual keyboard, moving from letter to letter without once having to lift it off the screen. It then works out what you were attempting to write with scary accuracy. Invented by one of the blokes behind T9 predictive text, it’s a true time-saver once you get used to it.

 

More after the break...

Another fine time-saver, SwiftKey is a predictive and corrective keyboard app for Android phones that adapts by “learning” from its user: words you use a lot, such as your name, are given greater priority. Not only will it finish and correct words for you, it’ll even add spaces (between multiple words if required). A top class keyboard app: find out more here.

 

Swype

“The world’s only virtual projector keyboard”, the £135 Magic Cube links up to your device via Bluetooth HID and lets you tap out messages on your tabletop. It’ll also work as a multitouch mouse – although that’s not much use for a smartphone. Using the keyboard takes some getting used to, but we can’t deny its futuristic nature appeals to our inner geeks.

 

This remote control-sized QWERTY isn’t at all fussy about what your pair it with: there’s Bluetooth for compatible devices (your phone, computer or PS3), as well as a wireless USB dongle for everything else (an Xbox 360, say). And the Rii Touch is more than just a hardware keyboard for easy messaging, thanks to the on-board touchpad for mouse movement and the laser pointer for, er, doing presentations. That’s a lot for a mere £30.

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