RIM impressed a lot of people, BlackBerry devotees and sceptics alike, when they debuted the learn-and-swipe keyboard on the upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform. With an engine that understands the most common combinations of words and phrases you tend you use, it will become more accurate over time.
Mario Hros, an iOS jailbreak developer, has developed Octopus Keyboard as a response to RIM’s efforts, and is in the process of adapting the technology to run on the iPhone. It’s an interesting idea: as you type, words will appear above letters it believes you will be most likely to tap on. For example, after typing ‘W’ for the word ‘what’, the entire word will appear in small letters above the ‘h’ key. To complete the word just swipe up. If not, tap as usual.
There’s a lot of functionality that Hros is planning on adding to the app, and it’s in an alpha stage right now. He’s still working out how to implement punctuation and capital letters, but those features are expected to come in time. At the moment, Octopus can learn new words and intelligently place them in the correct spot on the keyboard.
Octopus Keyboard is expected to debut on Cydia on May 20th, but that could change depending on whether Hros works out some of the lingering bugs. It also brings to light the question of whether a keyboard such as the one in BlackBerry 10 in fact saves time compared to the peck-and-tap variety we’re used to. I suppose once you get used to it some time may be saved but the benefits of today’s modern QWERTY keyboards come from the hand’s instinctual movements between the keys. Having to stop every couple seconds to think about which word to swipe up on could be exhausting, confusing and, most importantly, frustrating.
We’ll let you know when the Cydia tweak is available. Hit the break for a demo video.