Shapewriter for iPod Touch

Just got the Pro version of the iPod Touch program, ShapeWriter. Instead of pecking at the keyboard like a demented chicken, ShapeWriter allows you to “trace” the words by flowing the finger from one letter to the next. You might not get the right word that way, but ShapeWriter offers a number of choices that you can pick with a touch.

I just wrote half a blog post with it, and I was amazed at how swiftly the process proceeded. No match for my Flying Fingers of Fury with a real keyboard; but by far the best ever handheld keyboard experience.

It comes in a free version, but I splurged on the ten whole bucks Pro. For that you get a landscape keyboard option, and an actual Clipboard for within the App.

I think I can finally get some sleep this weekend. My iPod Touch is complete.

I have the freebie and you get little ads at the bottom of the screen,

A program I use a lot on the Ipod Touch is Mysticky which takes the Mac idea of sticky notes and puts them in your hand.

And if you Ebay stuff theres a program for that too. Never mind the Crackberry monitoring your sales on Ebay is wayyyyyyyy more addictive.


Sticky notes on the Touch? Get out!

And here I told Significant Other I would stay away from the App Store for a while… but I didn’t promise. I knew better.

Thanks for tip.

Just gotta say I broke down and got the Pro version in about two hours. (At 10 bucks, it’s like the Adobe Creative Suite of iPod apps.) For landscape typing and the Clipboard support. Hadda have.

What an extraordinary program. And yet, I find little discussion of it, and very skimpy reviews.

Thanks for the heads-up about Shapewriter. I’m a sucker for this stuff and I’m definitely going to try it out.

Sounds interesting, but given the dismal state of my handwriting, it would probably give up on me in despair. I spent a few minutes yesterday trying to teach an eMate (a Newton with a keyboard) to understand my touch screen writing. I had little success.

There’s a different technique that I think holds some promise. It’s swiping in International Morse Code with some tweaks that take advantage of a touch screen to make it easier. And no, despite the urban myth spread by Eagle Scouts eager to impress their girl friends, it’s not that hard to learn.

The more often you use a letter, the shorter it is. “E,” for instance, is a dot and “T” is a dash. That means that ‘typing by swiping’ either of those two common letters is to simply make a short or a long swipe on the screen. Even a klutz like me can do that. And note the two ways I suggest to make entering capital letters easy. Standard Morse doesn’t have capital or small letters. Swiped Morse does and it can be learned in a flash.

Here’s the idea. Feel free to pass it on. Given the number of iPhone users out there, selling to just one percent of those who don’t like that touch keyboard would mean a lot of sales.

iPhone Input Using Morse Code

Here’s an alternate text input technique for the iPhone that might be faster and more accurate for many people. It uses a feature the iPhone already has, the touch screen, rather than external hardware such as a collapsible Bluetooth keyboard. You not only don’t have to look at the screen, with a little practice you can enter text in the dark even while bouncing around, as on a bus or subway. And since the only requirements for text input are basic hand coordination and a sense of touch, it makes the iPhone much more usable for the visually impaired and those with limited hand-eye coordination.

What is it?

  • It uses a well-established open source standard—International Morse Code. But instead of short and long key presses, dots are input by short swipes and dashes by long swipes.

  • Speed of input doesn’t matter. Unlike regular Morse, which assumes a pause in sending to be a break between letters, user input can be as slow or fast as the users wants without error. Letters are distinguished by alternating swiping right/left and then up/down. (A user-set delay inputs the last character, i.e. one not followed by a swipe in a different direction.)

  • Swipe mode changes when the user rotates the screen.

  • Because Morse Code is already optimized for fast input in most languages, text can be entered very fast. The more often a letter is used, the shorter its Morse Code equivalent is. An e is a single short swipe and a T is a single long swipe. It can’t be any easier that that.

Additional Features
Morse input would also take advantage of a touch screen’s flexibility to add features that International Morse Code doesn’t have. Examples include:

  • Lowercase letters are made by swiping left-to-right or up-to-down.

  • Uppercase letters are made by swiping right-to-left or down-to-up. Alternately, two-finger swipes could be used for uppercase.

  • Common punctuation uses diagonal swipes, i.e. upper-left to lower-right for a space, lower-left to upper-right for a period or a period plus space. Diagonal swipes with two or three fingers could have other meanings.

  • Circling CCW might delete the previous character. Circling CW might enter a Return. Alternately, a short shake of the iPhone deletes the previous letter, while a longer shake deletes the previous word.

  • Because text input is always a swipe that doesn’t need for anything to be displayed for it to work, the entire screen is free for other uses, either display or touching without swiping. It can be used to display the text being entered, to have buttons for commands, or to show a chart for those just learning Morse. This makes maximum use of scarce screen space.

  • Certain easy-to-make touches could be used to make common commands easy to do. Touching the keyboard with another finger, perhaps the thumb in the lower-left corner for right-handed people, might signify something. For instance, it might bring up a scrolling list of long, user-set text strings (i.e. a phone number or address) from which the user could select. Inside applications, it could be used for something important. Inside an email program, for instance, it could send the just-entered email. Inside a writing program, it could be used to start a new paragraph.

  • In learner mode, the screen would display the Morse alphabet and text input would be on a scrolling line. Letters or words could be spoken as typed to speed up learning and accuracy.

For those willing to learn Morse, which is far easier than most people think (especially for sending), it offers a fast, virtually error-free text interface for the iPhone, one that has tactile feedback built into the design. Most important of all, it’s a text input technique that doesn’t require users to constantly look at the screen. Since the target is the entire screen, it’s impossible to miss and the touch of the screen provides the tactile feedback lacking in the on-screen keyboard.

Feel free to pass the idea along to anyone who might want to create it.

Besides, who knows but that at some time in your life you might need to know Morse. It’s virtually the only recognized way to signal by turning something of and on.

—Mike Perry, KE7NV, Seattle,

Well, it never hurts to learn Morse code.

However, just wanted to let you know Shapewriter doesn’t have anything to do with handwriting.

It works by letting you touch the first letter of the word you are after, and then “trace” the typing by moving the finger from one letter to another, until the last letter, when you lift off. It gets the word right about 85% of the time, and offers alternatives if that’s not right.

I’ve found it quite fast. Touch typing is still faster, but I can actually take notes with it.