Smartwatches have come a long way, but when it comes to typing they’re practically useless. You’re either stuck with a tiny keyboard that can’t do anything, or you have to rely on voice recognition which isn’t exactly perfect in all scenarios. Microsoft has something it hopes will change that.
The project comes out of Microsoft’s Research division and is called the ‘analogue keyboard project‘. It’s called Android Wear keyboard and it’s very simple, you ‘type’ by writing out letters and numbers straight onto the watch’s screen. According to the team responsible:
Handwriting, unlike speech, is discreet and not prone to background noise. And unlike soft keyboards, where many keys have to share the small touch surface, handwriting methods can offer the entire screen (or most of it) for each symbol. This allows each letter to be entered rather comfortably, even on small devices. In fact, it has been shown that some handwriting systems can be used without even looking at the screen. Finally, handwriting interfaces require very little design changes to run on round displays, which are becoming increasingly popular.
The app is far from foolproof at the moment. It still doesn’t work on lower resolution screens, doesn’t support upper case letters, and doesn’t let you swear. It is still a prototype, so that’s to be expected. The team wants some feedback to help improve the app, and gauge whether this is the future of smartwatch typing, or just a passing fad.