Feeds

Testers give iPhone virtual keyboard the thumbs down

Apple vs BlackBerry vs numeric pad

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The virtual Qwerty keyboard on Apple's iPhone allows users to enter text as quickly as they would on another handset's physical keyboard, but they'll make rather more mistakes in the process.

That's the conclusion drawn by a Chicago usability consultancy after watching 60 punters tap away on a variety of handsets. Twenty of them used iPhones, another 20 used full-size BlackBerries, and 20 more were given Samsung E300 numeric pad-only phones to try.

Each triallist was told to type out six fixed-length text messages, while iPhone users also had to enter two sentences containing all the English letters, along with a block of text that contains the letters in the frequencies they most commonly appear in in written work.

The text messages were constructed to prevent the quirks of numeric-pad text entry favouring or hindering users. Curiously, the use of predictive text was not part of the test.

Accordingly to the surveyor, User Centric, the BlackBerry users punched out their missives as quickly as the iPhone users did. However, the latter group made, on average, 5.6 text-entry errors per message, to the BlackBerry team's 2.1 errors per message. They were just ahead of the Samsung group, who scored 2.4 errors per message.

As a control, User Centric also tried non-iPhone owners out on handsets they were unfamiliar with, each individual typing out six more fixed-length messages. People who've primarily used numeric pads for texting made fewer mistakes when they moved on to a physical Qwerty pad than they did on the iPhone's touchsensitive screen. And they were faster on the hard keyboard than the virtual one.

Numeric-pad phone owners made an average of 5.4 errors per message on the iPhone, 1.2 errors per message on the physical Qwerty phone and 1.4 errors per message on their own phone.

"Participants also indicated a preference for hard-key Qwerty phones when texting," said User Centric's Jen Allen.

But what of the iPhone's much-vaunted ability to monitor users' input and adjust itself accordingly for better typing results?

Thumbs-down, alas: "While the iPhone's corrective text feature helps, this data suggests that iPhone users who have owned the device for a month still make about the same number of errors as the day they got it," User Centric's Managing Director, Gavin Lew, said.

You can read User Centric's write-up of the test on its website.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
One step closer to ROBOT BUTLERS: Dyson flashes vid of VACUUM SUCKER bot
Latest cleaner available for world+dog in September
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Tim Cook in Applerexia fears: New MacBook THINNER THAN EVER
'Supply chain sources' give up the goss on new iLappy
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.