A clever alternative keyboard for Android devices
If you find it hard to pick out the correct letter using the onscreen keyboard on an Android smartphone, 8pen is a radical alternative that might just be the answer. Rather than tapping letters, words are created with gestures clearly shown on the phone. It requires a bit of work to learn but there is a well designed game called 8pen WordCup that helps a great deal.
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The installation has a few more steps than normal. After it has been downloaded from the Google Play site it needs to be switched on on the phone. Instructions are given in the app to go to the keyboard settings and checking the 8pen box.
The 8pen keyboard is a circle with four sections. Letters are selected by starting with your finger in the middle circle and then moving around the circle in different directions to select letters. It's much better to see in action as this video from 8pen demonstrates.
Learning a whole new input system is not a trivial exercise, so we strongly recommend also downloading the WordCup game. It does a very good job of teaching the different letter motions and we found that we had properly learnt many letters after about an hour of playing the game.
The game quickly gets fast paced and we found that this forced us to learn the motions rather than looking at the screen. Including this game is a master stroke by 8pen, without a structured way of learning the input
Should you want a normal onscreen keyboard, entering passwords is a good reason, one can be displayed by tapping on the keyboard icon in the 8pen section. There is also a numerical keyboard.
We can't ignore that 8pen requires time to learn and that it's not a free app. But 99p is hardly very much and the time is well spent.
There is a very detailed explanation of how 8pen was developed on the 8pen blog. It explains the idea behind creating a keyboard like this and how they decided on what letter should appear where.
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