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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gadget to help you type on iPhone


If you’re holding out for an iPhone because you can’t type well on its touchscreen, an inexpensive overlay aims to help you out.
In theory, 4iThumbs2 is a great idea. It’s a $13 overlay — for iPhone 3/3G/4 and iPod touch – with little bumps, or ridges, designed to help you type better on the device’s 3.5-inch touchscreen.

It’s meant to help users who prefer typing on a physical keyboard (like most BlackBerrys) ease into the onscreen (virtual) keyboard on Apple’s mobile devices. 4i Concepts, the folks behind the product, call it “training wheels for new iPhone users.”

The see-thru overlay slips on top of the face of the iPhone/iPod touch – which also helps to protect the screen – and your thumbs should feel the ridges that aim to give you similar tactile feedback on the QWERTY keyboard as a button-based one.

Did it increase the speed and accuracy of my typing? No.

Here are my beefs with the product:

* The ridges on the overlay aren’t on the actual letters themselves (such as Q-W-E-R-T-Y, etc.) but are more in the top corners of the letters. I confirmed with the company this is correct. I’m sure the company did their research on what’s most effective but maybe this product would help me type better if the ridges were on the actual keys? I typed about the same as when there was no overlay on.

* I find typing on the iPhone screen horizontally (landscape view) — where the virtual keys are more spread out – helps increase my accuracy. Maybe my thumbs are too fat, but even with the 4iThumbs2 overlay on, I’m simply not as fast or accurate compared to holding it sideways. Apparently, there is a horizontal version but I was sent the vertical one.

* When the overlay is on, the ridges somewhat cover what’s behind it, plus you can’t easily swipe your finger across the screen. Therefore, this is one of those products you only slip on when you need it, which I think is a drag. What’s more, it’s easy to misplace the screen. The company sent me the pricier ($25) 4iThumbs2 with the matching iPhone 4 case the overlay slips into, but I still lost the cover twice when it wasn’t inserted.

Hi readers, has anyone tried this product – or a similar one? What were the results? Do you have an issue typing on the iPhone’s screen?


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