Minuum Keyboard Hands-on

Daniel Bader

June 19, 2013 9:37pm

Photo 6-19-2013, 10 48 54 AM

Months of waiting, teased and previewed, have paid off for impatient Minuum backers, as the one-dimensional keyboard replacement for Android is finally here.

The upside is simple: this keyboard is small, more so than SwiftKey, Swype or Fleksy. By default, Minuum takes up a paltry 240 pixels, though that can be adjusted down to 160 pixels if you’re so inclined. Minuum is also incredibly accurate, but not because you’re placing your fingers in the right spots on the keyboard. No, that would be impossible. It’s Whirlscape’s — the creator of Minuum, lead by Toronto’s Will Walmsley — autocorrect algorithm that predicts what you were trying to say with eery accuracy.

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Minuum knows what you’re trying to type, and if it doesn’t recognize the word its easy-enough manual typing system — hold down on an area and swipe up to reveal a magnified view of the surrounding letters — lets you more accurately enter proper nouns, names and passwords. The keyboard can also import your address book details, so you won’t have to force its dictionary to relearn impossible-to-pronounce surnames.

As you can see from the example above, I typed in “jinuuk” and received the correction “Minuum,” which is exactly what I wanted to type. Moving between words requires a gesture to the right for a space, or one to the left to delete an entire word. The backspace key at the top right of the suggestion box lets you delete individual words.

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Above the magnified letters are punctuation, which can also be accessed by flicking down on the keyboard to change to the numbers/symbols format.

To jump down a line, make like you’re entering a space and move your finger up slightly, forming an upside down “L” shape. Move your thumb far enough in one direction and you’ll enable a hot menu, with four toucn points that let you perform a variety of functions, or enter the settings.

Basically, you’ll have to get used to it. But how well does it work as a keyboard? And why, in this age of five-inch Android devices, would you want to save those extra few pixels? Really, there isn’t an answer to that: Minuum isn’t necessarily better than the stock Android keyboard, nor does it predict more accurately than SwiftKey or Swype. It does show more of the screen as you’re typing, so those longer emails or status updates can be seen on more of the display.

More importantly, though, Minuum is a wonderful, effervescent technology demo, a product that outlines the future of text input on surfaces other than touchscreens. You can type quickly with Minuum once you get the hang of it, and I’m certainly going to give it my best shot, but I see it working better for entry-level products, the ones with low-resolution 3-inch displays that don’t have a pixel to spare. I see it paired with a smart watch or a Google Glass product, where text input is not currently possible in a meaningful way.

Minuum is worth using, and if you paid for access via Indiegogo, you should be receiving a personalized email in the next day or so asking you join its Google Group to gain access to a download link. It may not replace your full-time keyboard, but it’s one of those apps you have to boast to your friends about, and something that still differentiates Android from iOS and Windows Phone.

  • Joseph Cacoilo

    Is this ever going to be just pubically accessible through the google play store? Without any of this email/google group stuff? Wouldn’t mind trying it out.

    • casey

      if I do recall the beta will only be open to the kikstarter supporters but will be publicly available afterwards.

    • Plazmic Flame

      Right now it’s only available to those who supported their campaign on Indiegogo. They never had a Kickstarter campaign. When it comes out of beta and is available to the public, it will be available in the Google Play Store like any normal app.

    • Robert Day

      That is, of course, the intent. It’s an early beta (although VERY usable) right now. I’m impressed, despite having enough space on my phone to work with. It’s my go-to keyboard when I am working in landscape mode, and when I want to be able to see more than just the text I am entering in SMS.

    • Joseph Cacoilo

      Nice thanks for the responses guys, just hearing about this keyboard. Looks cool.

  • alamarco

    They keyboard seems pretty interesting and I’ll buy it when it comes out. Right now I switch between Swift Key and Swype depending on my mood. Both have their faults and annoyances so when I get annoyed with one, I switch the another.

    I’d love to give Minuum a try once it is released to the public. I’m a huge fan of options and I have no problems paying for another keyboard. 🙂

    • Stuntman06

      I switch between SwiftKey and Google depending on (screen) orientation. I’m interested in Minuum, but it has a lot to live up to.

  • pvanb

    It works well… usually.

    It failed to even load when trying to type in this comment text area (not entirely surprising given how unfriendly MobileSyrup is on mobile.) It’s also very slow and tedious when typing URLs because autocorrect doesn’t guess URLs and it’s impossible to actually be accurate without deliberately selecting each letter one… at… a… time.

    It is still beta though, and I’m quite impressed most of the time.

  • DarkisFever

    It’s not to bad actually. It will take a while to get used to the periods. Still though I think this will be very succussful!

    • floyd.pepper

      gender change can be tough.

    • JTon

      Took me a while. Then real lols.

  • Zed

    Missed the kickstarter, looking forward to when this is available 🙂

    • eu

      you Can Already Find The Apk On File Sharing Sites.

    • Zed

      true that. I tried it, but it seems a bit hard to get used to it. I suppose that will change over time. Besides that it works great on my One

    • Plazmic Flame

      And the Android pirating problem continues…

      There really needs to be a way to lock down an app if it hasn’t been paid for.

    • Zed

      point me to a place where I can buy it from, please!

    • Plazmic Flame

      Right now it’s only available to those who supported their campaign on Indiegogo. When it comes out of beta and is available to the public, it will be available in the Google Play Store like any normal app. Right now there is no specific date on when it will be available to the public.

      Their roadmap currently says Q1 2014 for Andtoid app release.

    • Zed

      Exactly, my point was that it’s not available as of now, and I wasn’t aware of the kickstarter when it was on. So, how does downloading the apk make someone a pirate with respect to this product? If I like it, I will buy it when it’s out. If I don’t, I won’t. Simple.

  • God

    It needs a full keyboard that can be swapped in for abbreviations, urls, that kind of stuff that isn’t necessarily a word, because it takes far too long with the bar keyboard they got going.

  • RS

    Is there a resizable or L/R keyboard setting for the one handed swipers with 5″+ screens?

  • J-C

    Any luck trying it in french or using multiple languages at the same time ?
    Because I mean “cool” and “wtf” are pretty international.