Android users are probably familiar with the Swype keyboard which basically allows users to type on their phones just by swiping (or “swyping”) between characters versus pecking at individual letters one at a time. In fact one iOS developer has event attempted to port Swype onto iOS devices although it didn’t exactly take off. However it seems that Apple did think about keyboard alternatives back in the day, and thanks to a recent patent that was published, it looks like Apple’s idea was pretty similar to Swype. According to the patent filing, it was filed for back in 2007 which is the same year that the first iPhone debuted, suggesting that Apple was already looking for keyboard alternatives for touchscreen devices back in the day.
However given that it’s 6 years later and the only revision to the Apple keyboard on iOS would be its design, it’s safe to say that Apple decided not to pursue this idea, or other keyboard ideas the Cupertino company and its team might have cooked up then. In any case Apple’s keyboard is more than functional and is pretty accurate as far as onscreen keyboards are concerned.
Anyone who has spent significant time typing on a tablet knows that despite its larger size, there’s still a massive room for error. Because it’s missing that satisfying, tactile clickety-clack of physical keyboards, tablets enable mistakes and typing hiccups in the same way that smartphones do. So it’s no surprise that Randy Marsden, co-founder of Android smartphone typing staple Swype, and a small team are seeking to reinvent tablet typing with a new startup called Dryft.
Announced at TechCrunch Disrupt, Dryft recognizes where hands move while typing, and subtly shifts the keys to compensate for the inevitable drifting (get it?) hands do across the device. The keyboard is able to track that by utilizing the accelerometer in a tablet to assess whether hands are moving or at rest. So users will be able to settle their hands on the keyboard without the risk of unintended typing — and with the added benefit of shifting keys. Marsden says those two features considerably boost natural typing speed up to 80 WPM, and lead to less errors.
See a video demo below:
Companies have made an earnest effort to perfect touchpad typing on tablets of all sizes in the last few years — most notably Apple’s split keyboard feature on the iPad. But that hasn’t stopped physical keyboard makers from producing some much-hyped products. If Dryft is able to get its resources together and get off the ground, it could prove to be as big a hit for Android tablets as Swype is for phones.
Marsden and co-founder Rob Chaplinsky are pushing Dryft into beta testing and are actively looking for OEM customers, developers and investors.