The quest for the ‘ultimate Keyboard’ can sure seem like a never ending one, with each having it’s own idea for what makes a better input interface. Ultra Keyboard is no exception, but it goes beyond just a gimmick and also brings a rather refined list of options, although a few could use a little ironing out.
I’m sure that most people are used to the 3 letters on a key T9 system for inputting text on a mobile device, Ultra Keyboard takes this same idea, but only places two letters on each key, increasing the reliability of T9 suggestions while reducing the size of the buttons on the screen. This sacrifice comes off rather well and the inputting works a lot better than many of the T9 systems out there, but you’re still going to be caught by many of the failings of the T9 system in general. Adding new items to the dictionary isn’t immediately obvious or quick, but once you’ve got your common words in there, the system becomes very usable. Add to that an intelligent text suggestion based on your previous choices and the Ultra Keyboard quickly becomes a far better solution than the default keyboard.
Read more after the break.
For those with freakishly small fingers you’ll be glad to know that Ultra Keyboard also has the option to display a full sized keyboard, while this may seem pointless at first, the features of Ultra Keyboard are still there, even while using a hardware keyboard. One of the most welcome features is having word suggestions appear should you slip and hit an adjacent key. Also, much like the iPhone’s keyboard, there’s text replacement so your TTYLs and your BBLs will all be spelled out. Any of these options can be turned on or off as well as be customized along with custom themes and other behaviors.
It’s not all smooth sailing however and it will take a little customization to get Ultra Keyboard to really begin speeding up your typing, some options are mere matters of choice while others can be a bit baffling if not downright annoying. Sounds for instance should be disabled since the text suggestions already tend to lag and the audio just makes things worse. Other settings are a bit obscure. Adding a word into the word replacement list, for example, does not add it to the dictionary – this is not an issue until you use the T9 and find that you’re unable to type the word that you want the software to auto replace. Auto capitalize is a great feature that is useful perhaps 90% of the time, but there’s no easy way to bypass it when you might be typing out a URL. In most other replacement keyboards you can just delete and retype a letter to make it appear in lower case, but not here. Finally the speed can be an issue if you’re the impatient type with the span style=”color: black;”>hardware keyboard. Should you flip out the keyboard and quickly begin typing before the software is ready you might find yourself dropping the first couple of letters.
No app is without its problems and some may be down to personal taste, but even if you do decide to disable three or four features because they cause more frustration than aid then you’ll still be left with a slew of other features that can do a lot for you.
Ultra Keyboard is available in the Android Marketplace for $1.99 and is also available as a 24 hour trial.