Sick of Your QWERTY Keyboard? Give the Science Based MessagEase a Go

This post stems from a review I did on the new SwiftKey 3 Beta keyboard I did a few weeks earlier.  Some DroidDog readers were adamant that I had looked over one MessagEase keyboard, that QWERTY keyboards in general were not designed for use with touchscreen devices, and were therefore a fail.  Honestly, using a non-QWERTY keyboard had never even crossed my mind.  I’ve been using computers since I can remember, and I’ve always had a QWERTY keyboard.  It works for me.  Why try something else?  What intrigued me was the readers insistance on MessageEase being a “new technology.”  This makes sense to me.  The QWERTY keyboard was developed in the 1870s for using all 10 fingers on a typewriter.  So, in my opinion, a new technology seemed interesting and worth a shot.

Before I start talking about my experience with the keyboard.  I’ll tell you about my experience interacting with the people from MessageEase which has been a pleasure.  I announced to my 10 twitter followers at the time that I was thinking about doing a MessageEase challenge, inspired by TmoNews’ 30 day Android challenge.  The MessageEase crew immediately found that tweet and were in full support of this challenge.  I also got a tweet from SwiftKey’s CMO telling me “Don’t do it!” which gave me a chuckle.  My big question to the MessagEase team was: How many days should I give this keyboard to make it a fair review?  I love the SwiftKey 3 Beta keyboard.  I have zero complaints.  I’m not really in the market for a new keyboard.  I just find the MessageEase keyboard interesting and think it would be fun the check out.  They told me it would take more than 140 characters to respond, so I should send them an email.  They weren’t kidding.  Later that night I recieved 5985 (including spaces, that’s like 2 full pages of text) character response from the President & CEO, a Ph.D and the inventor of MessageEase.  Now, I’m not sure if MessagEase is a direct result of this guy’s research, but my guess is this guy knows his stuff.  In the Google Play Store, it states “MessagEase is based on several years of scientific research and uses letter frequency data to optimize the position of letters and characters on a novel keyboard with fewer, larger buttons. (That’s why the letter positions are NON-QWERTY!)”  Before I started the challenge, I downloaded a typing speed test for my Epic 4G Touch.  I was typing 44+ words per minute (WPM) with SwitKey’s corrections and smart space technology.  Apparently people can do 60+ WPM with MessageEase with one thumb and no aids.  So, I like the idea of using a keyboard layout based on science.  With my letter from Dr. President & CEO, I decided to give myself 2 weeks to get comfortable with MessageEase.  And the challenge began…

Day 1
Questioning why I’m doing the challenge.  Disappointed every time I try and respond to a text and SwiftKey isn’t there to greet me.

Day 2
Beginning to understand the layout better.  Wife getting frustrated with short responses to texts.  Finding myself opening my laptop to answer emails rather than using MessagEase.

MessagEase Twitter checks in on me…  They remind me playing the MessagEase game (also available on Google Play) is essential to learning the keyboard.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a ton of time to play games…

Day 7
I complete all the challenges in the MessagEase game.  I’m now typing about 20 WPM.  Up until this point, i hadn’t turned on predictive text to force me to learn the layout.  Now I’m more comfortable with it, I turn it on.

Saturday was the last full day of the 2 week Challenge.  I have to say, my first two days were pretty intimidating.  I never got much higher than 20 WPM with MessagEase, and definitely never made it on the game’s leaderboards.  Here’s what I like about the MessagEase keyboard after two weeks:

- The buttons are large.  If you have stubby thumbs or are clumsy, give this keyboard a shot.
- Super easy to use with one thumb.  I was told I would be able to type fast with one thumb so I used one thumb the whole time.  I was able to type 20+ WPM with one thumb.  So if you’re one handing your phone while texting a lot, again, give this keyboard a try.
- For use without predictive technology, for me, I probably can type as fast or faster than I could with a QWERTY keyboard.  It seems functional.

What I don’t like:

- I sorely, sorely missed Swiftkeys predictive technology.  With SwiftKey, with my commonly used phrases I type nothing.  It was disappointing when I had to completely type those things/phrases out.
- I’m an engineer.  I suck at spelling.  As far as I can tell (someone please correct me if I’m wrong), I saw no auto correct.  Auto correct can definitely be a pain sometimes, but I need it so I don’t look like an idiot.
- I don’t love the look of it.  You can customize layouts a bit and change colors, but its just not a pretty keyboard to me.

So, is it obvious what keyboard I’m using now?  I am going back to my SwiftKey 3 Beta keyboard.  For one, some of the gripes I’ve heard with using a QWERTY keyboard is the small keys on a small screen.  My Epic 4G Touch has a 4.52″ screen.  I have no gripes with the key size.  That doesn’t bother me.  Second, I rarely type with one hand my phone.  If my hand/hands are full, I’ll use my phone later.  I suck at multitasking in general, so I guess it’s just not really something I do.  And lastly, I love SwiftKey’s predictive and smart space technology.  It works crazy well for me, and I think they keyboard looks great.

To wrap up, I don’t think MessagEase sucks.  That’s not what I’m trying to say.  For me, in my situation, with my phone, it’s not right for me right now.  If you have a small screen, if you can’t handle your thumbs, or if you just hate the QWERTY layout, download this keyboard.  It seems like a fantastic alternative.  It comes with a game to help you get used the layout.  It’s all free in the Play Store.  It has great reviews there.  It’s just not for me.  Be sure to let us know if you’re using it or what your thoughts are.

P.S. Another reader, XerBlade,  did their own short review.  They typed a review and thoughts and posted them in the SwiftKey Review comments.  If you care to read, click here.

Google Play Store

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