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Fat Fingers? There's an App for That

You could get so much done on a smartphone--if only typing wasn't such a pain. This app aims can make it a whole lot easier.
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Touchscreens work marvelously when you have seven inches or more of screen real estate for tapping, swiping, and dragging your fingers around. But shrink that space to a 4- or 5-inch smartphone screen and throw in a tiny digital keyboard, and even the most proficient typists suddenly have fat-finger syndrome.

Fortunately, there’s a cure: It’s a predictive keyboard app called Fleksy. Originally developed to help the blind type accurately on touchscreens, Fleksy promises to make sense of what you type--no matter how badly you’ve jumbled the letters. An algorithm analyzes what you type by looking for context, and even adapts to how you type. For example, if you repeatedly type “tht,” the app will auto-correct to “that” every time.

When I tested it, Fleksy increased typing speed dramatically, up to about 20 words per minute. The app understood about 95 percent of the words, which it speaks aloud as you type, although it confused “thus” with “this” a few times. Still, on accuracy it beat competing apps Swiftkey, Swype, and Snapkeys hands down. Gestures are powerful but easy to use. You swipe right to add a space, left to delete a word, and hold a letter to access special characters. The app also lets you add unusual words to its 40,000-word dictionary by flicking right, then up. Handy!

The bad news for iPhone users: Fleksy cannot replace your existing keyboard (at least, not yet), so that means you must access the free app via a menu option, type your text, and then copy and paste it into emails, texts, Facebook, etc. Fleksy is now in beta for Android phones, where users have the option to swap it in as the default keyboard. The catch is that you have to sign up on Google+ to be a beta tester. In the future, Syntellia--the nine-person start-up behind the app--wants to work with handset makers to pre-load Fleksy on phones.

Last updated: Jun 5, 2013

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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