Which I absolutely agree with, having spent the previously three years on an iPhone. But Microsoft Research has published an interesting article about why the Windows Phone virtual (or “soft”) keyboard is better than that of the competition. It’s worth a look.
Windows Phone 7 users find that their keyboards seem to have a better knack for knowing what they intend to type—or even what they intend to say.
That’s because of collaboration between a Microsoft Research team and the Windows Phone 7 product group. They worked together to apply the principles of machine learning—in which technology works on a person’s behalf—to improving finger input on Window Phone 7’s “soft,” or virtual, keyboard.
“We wanted to have the best text-input solution in the world,” Eric Badger, developer lead, says. “When it comes to digital communication, the task of getting an idea from your head to the keyboard is really important.”
The Microsoft Research and Windows Phone 7 teams tackled the problem by first conducting extensive user experiments on a Windows Phone 7 prototype. They collected data on how people touch soft keyboard keys, what it means when people employ different holding positions—using only their thumbs, for instance—and the strengths and weaknesses of competitors’ keypads.
The typing patterns of an individual are collected by the game Text Text Revolution!
For crowdsourcing, the data-collection tool eventually was turned into a game called Text Text Revolution! by Dmitry Rudchenko, a developer on Badger’s team. The game is rated at four out of five stars on the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace, and it not only helps users grow accustomed to typing quickly and accurately on their Windows Phone devices, but also generates ideal data for training statistical models as a side effect of playing the game. Since its launch, the game has collected more than 20 million touch points for training.
By combining statistical models of language patterns and touch points, the keyboard dynamically changes the virtual size of the likely next letter, so that it has a larger target area—the area where tapping the keypad results in a particular letter, symbol, or number.
“We don’t show that visually,” Paek says. “It all happens behind the scenes.”
Brilliant. And thanks to Leon Z. for the link.