They might have taken over the smartphone and tablet worlds, but touchscreens far and wide share the same Achilles Heel – the keyboard. No matter which OS you might be using, the stark simple fact is that typing long passages of text on a touchscreen can be a mind numbing task. There have been a number of attempts to overcome this weakness, the most spectacular being SWYPE on Android and Symbian, and now comes one of the most interesting ones we have seen – the rather strangely named Fleksy.

The first thing we need to specify at the very outset is that this keyboard has been designed for the blind. But that does not mean it is of no use to those who can see. The second thing: it is not free (it is a free download but is of little practical use without an in-app purchase of a hefty $4.99). But take our word for it: it is worth it!

fleksy


For Fleksy comes with several neat touches that we totally fell in love with, and is good enough for us to go out on a limb and call it one of the best onscreen typing systems we have seen. Launching the app, just shows you a black screen with a keyboard beneath it – and yes, this being iOS, you cannot use Fleksy to replace your default keyboard but will have to type out content and cut/copy paste it into the app into which you want to place it. But then, that is a headache that all iOS users have learnt to live with.

How Fleksy works?

It is however, the tweaks that Fleksy brings to typing that make it notable. And these become evident from the moment you start using the app. There is NO spacebar on the app at all, and panic not – you don’t need one. Just swipe to the right when you are done with a word, and the space automatically appears. And incidentally, this is also the time when the app slips into autocorrect mode and tries to guess the word you had typed. Know something? It is stunningly good at it. And yes, please register the fact that there is no delete key either – a swipe to the left deletes the first word in its path. And WHEN you have got through with that, do also notice the absence of punctuation keys – all you need to do is swipe to the right twice and the app inserts a full stop (period). Swipe downwards and you get other options. Actually swiping down is the “alternative showing” mode in this app – if you do so after you have entered a word, the app will also show you the alternative words that could replace the one it has shown.

Fed up of counting missing keys? Hold your peace, for there’s one more – the ‘enter’ key. So how do you switch lines? Well, just tap a letter and hold your finger down, and you will two rows of new options appear. Just slide your finger over (no, you cannot take it off the keyboard during this operation) to the ‘enter’ option (marked by an upward arrow) and well, you have a new line. A long press will also give you access to the the numbers and special characters section.

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Of course, the fact that you don’t have all those keys also means that the Fleksy keyboard is perhaps the single most spacious keyboard we have ever seen on a touchscreen, with very little chance of you making any typos. Even when you do, the autocorrect gets it right nine times out of ten. Of course, you can totally override it if you wish, make it accept new words and add and remove words from the dictionary. Again, it is all gesture based. Once your typing is done, you can either copy the text you have typed or opt to paste it directly into Facebook, Twitter, e-mail or a message.

You can also make the app read out every word you type immediately after typing it, read out the complete text after you have finished typing by just holding up the device to your ear, and a few more handy things by playing around with the app’s settings in the default Settings of your iPhone or iPad.

We would be the first to point out that Fleksy is not perfect. We do not like the fact that you can only delete entire words and not single letters, and initially, it will take some time to get used to the gestures for special characters and punctuations, and even figuring out some of the instructions. Still, all said and done, what we must concede is that this is one of the most innovative typing solutions we have seen for touchscreens for a while. It has definitely speeded up our typing on our iPhone 4S and iPad – even when every word we have typed has been a typo! In fact, we are just hoping the Android avatar comes along fast – we sure would love having this as a default keyboard. I mean, it is bigger than your normal onscreen keyboard and has the best autocorrect we have seen on a touchscreen device – for most of us, that really is enough. Stuff the price, get this keyboard. Your complaints about typing on iOS devices will decrease miraculously.

Available from: iTunes App Store
Price: Free ($4.99 for full use)

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Nimish Dubey has been writing for more than a decade now (well, Windows 3.1 was around and Apple was on the verge of being finished when he started). He has been published in a number of publications including The Times of India, Mint, The Economic Times, Mid-Day and Femina on subjects that vary from tech write -ups to book reviews to music album round ups. He managed to interview Michael Schumacher once and write two books for young adults along the way.