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Phone, tablet apps that can take your typing blues away

Touchscreens might have become a rage but there is one area where they still are a headache to use — that of typing. No matter how big or wide displays get, users still gnash their teeth when it comes to churning out large portions of text by tapping away on an onscreen keyboard that often offers very little in the way of physical feel, apart from the odd sound or vibration.

Fortunately, as in all things digital, there are apps that allow you to get around this problem — others by a different key arrangement, still others by better predictive text algorithms, and chucking the keyboard out of the window altogether. What’s more, some do so without even charging you a price for making your typing experience simpler. So if you are fed up of typing away on the onscreen keyboard of your touch-driven device, do try out the following:

SWYPE Beta
It may be best known as the app that lets users enter words and letters on their devices by just sliding their fingers across letters rather than typing them but the fact is that there is more to SWYPE than just that. The latest beta version of the app comes with handwriting and voice recognition, so you can even choose to scribble or speak what you want to enter on your device. The app does handily enough on both fronts. Of course, swiping to type works as smoothly as ever, recognising words that you use frequently and also taking words and contacts from your social networks and Gmail. And if sentiment does overwhelm you sometimes, you can use the keyboard to tap away ‘normally’ as well. The catch? You either get it preinstalled on your phone or have to make do with a free beta edition.
Works with: Android
Available from: Google Play
Price: Free

Adaptxt Keyboard
If your only complaint with the onscreen keyboard is in terms of look and feel, then Adaptxt is the app for you. It not only offers a number of themes that can change the way your keyboard looks, but comes with support for a number of Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, and in a neat touch, even blends of Indian languages with English (Hinglish and Marathinglish for instance). There are also terminology dictionaries such as medical, financial and legal, letting the keyboard predict terms from these fields. But our favourite feature is the one that actually lets you change the size of the keys as per your requirements. The keyboard also learns words as you type. Pretty much the most customisable traditional onscreen keyboard around.
Works with: Android
Available from: Google Play
Price: Free

Fleksy keyboard
Designed initially for the visually impaired, the Fleksy keyboard is just as good for everyone else, as it adds gestures and a superb prediction dictionary to the normal typing experience. Yes, you still hit keys to type but even if you miss the odd letter, the prediction normally gets it right, letting you actually type by not even looking at the keyboard. Then there are the gestures such as swipe right to add a space, swipe down to see alternative word suggestions and swipe left to delete words. Yes, it takes some getting to get accustomed to, but once you get the hang of it, you will be addicted. Alas, you cannot use it with every iOS app, but you can use it to type and then copy/cut and paste what you have written in other apps. You will be surprised at just how well it works. An Android version is expected soon.
Works with: iOS (Android expected soon)
Available from: iTunes App Store
Price: Rs 270

WritePad
For those fed up of the keyboard and longing to get their pens back into action on
touchscreens, WritePad is one of the best options. The app comes with complete support for handwriting recognition and recognises cursive as well as print writing, and in case you get stuck, get a ‘normal’ keyboard as well. Just remember to pause after writing a few words to let the app work out what you have written. You will be surprised at just how well it works. It lets you write in any app that supports text entry on Android and paste what you have written into other apps on the iPhone/iPad. No, it does not come cheap, but if you are a stylus junkie who despises keyboard then this is as good as it gets.
Works with: Android, iOS
Available from: Google Play, iTunes App Store
Price: Rs 550 approx

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