Brandon Wirtz and Jake Ludington of LockerGnome joined me in a discussion about the various differences between the iPhone and Android in relation to how the keyboards differ on the two platforms. While they both share many of the same core functions and features, there are a few notable differences.
The iPhone uses predictive text to determine where someone is headed while typing in order to increase accuracy during keystrokes. For example, if you type the word “drawer”, it will automatically predict whether or not the last letter in the word was a “t” or an “r” since they are laying very closely on the keyboard. With such a small surface and some users having larger digits than others, predictive text is often necessary to maintain a sense of accuracy while typing.
The iPhone will also give suggestions when it appears the user is misspelling or heading in the direction of a particular word. Hitting the space bar will automatically tell the iPhone that their suggestion is correct and allow you to begin entering the next word in the phrase. Unfortunately, this can be a problem when you’re intending to enter a proper name or abbreviation that the iPhone doesn’t recognize.
Android phones tend to handle text input a little differently. In addition to the standard Android on-screen keyboard, the user is able to install alternative keyboards that meet their particular needs. For example, the Samsung Captivate comes with three different on-screen keyboard layouts to choose from. The traditional Android keys are easily replaced with a Swype input and even a custom layout made specifically for the Samsung Galaxy series that is designed to fit within the exact dimensions of the particular device.
In addition, many Android devices feature a physical keyboard in addition to the one on-screen which allows you to have tactile feedback as you type. For many, this is a big plus, especially when you depend on being able to find your place by touch alone.
Swype is another feature available to Android users. With Swype, you can make a single figure motion across the screen to type a word rather than having to peck out individual keys. This allows you to type with a single digit faster than you would on a traditional keyboard. It does take some getting used to, and in being so, it isn’t for everyone.
If you compare the iPhone’s predictive text scheme to that of the standard Android keyboard, they are very similar. While some Android devices may vary in terms of accuracy and usability, the basic function of the keyboard remains the same. One very key difference is in how Android handles suggested words. Instead of suggesting a single word (like the iPhone), Android will put a list of possible matches in a horizontal bar across the top of the keyboard. Touching any of these suggestions will automatically change the word you’re typing to match and add a space in order for you to be able to pick up where you left off.
In the end, it all comes down to personal taste and experience. Some may find, as I have, that the iPhone’s keyboard just works faster and provides greater accuracy. Others may discover just the opposite. In the end, it’s up to you to decide what works best for you.