04
Dec
Slice

One of the biggest benefits of Android is, and always has been, the plethora of available software keyboards. Don't like stock? No problem - there's something out there that will make your typing experience suck less. But what works great on phones may not be so hot on a large-screen devices like a tablets, so there's basically a whole subset of keyboards - or at least keyboard layouts - in that arena.

Enter a newcomer to the tablet keyboard ring: Slice. This keyboard... well, it's insane. Just watch.

Unique? Definitely. Brain-melting? Without question. Practical? You can be the judge of that one. There's a demo version of Slice in the Store so you can give it a shot, and the full version will set you back a five spot if you're ready to commit. If nothing else, you can use it to play Space Invaders.

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Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • KRS_Won

    Welcome to U.S.S. Enterprise. o_O

  • TylerChappell

    He is clearly skilled at typing on it yet hes still really slow so I think Ill pass.

    • JensAstrup

      Exactly what I was thinking the whole time - there's a reason the dvorak keyboard never became popular - who wants to spend the time learning a new system?

      • TK

        sorry if this is ranty but ummmm, the dvorak keyboard not being used has nothing to do with popularity. You had to learn to type at some point in your life. The idiots who taught you just did so in a grossly inferior way and now that you know how to type that way you don't want to change. If DVORAK was taught in schools and came as the default on computers it would become "popular". Old people who learned on a QWERTY keyboard could just change the settings to fit their preferences, as everyone who types on DVORAK keyboards do now. The only reason people are stuck on QWERTY is because schools teach it. Have you ever tried the DVORAK keyboard? This is nothing like it; DVORAK is vastly superior, this keyboard is flashy and slow.

        • dd

          "Ummmm", I'm an author and QWERTY user. I spend hours typing every day, and I've never once thought, "Curses, these keys are placed in a less than ideal manner!" ;-)

          • http://googleplus.VoluntaryMan.com/ William Thieme

            Well have you ever used another format?
            Personally I think if you type quickly on one layout, you're probably typing about as fast as you could on another layout with practice. It's the typist who sets the speed.

          • TK

            It's also about comfort and strain, which probably doesn't mean anything to people as well.

          • http://www.stevenmattera.com Steven Mattera

            Think about how many word you can type using only one hand. So on a QWERTY keyboard you can create more words using the letters from the G over. Which means your left hand is having to do more work then your right. Next think about how many word you can create using just the home row key on QWERTY. Not many, right? Only one vowel is on the home row in QWERTY when every word contains at least one vowel. (On a DVORAK keyboard the vowels are on the left home row and the most common consonants.) There is absolutely no way anyone can defend QWERTY, other than how it's taught to everyone and unfortunately became the standard. DVORAK is more efficient in every way because it was built for efficiency. (The worlds fastest keyboard typer has been recorded at up to 212 WPM using a DVORAK keyboard.)

          • lilleyt

            The current world champ, Sean Wrona, types QWERTY. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9EXEpjSDEw

          • Matthew Fry

            You nor that video explain that he is the unofficial world champ via unverifiable online typing tests. A woman named Blackburn is still the recorded champion at 170WPM sustained 212WPM in bursts on a DVORAK keyboard. Or so says Wikipedia.

          • lilleyt

            a) the video shows a verifiable result
            b) I said current, which Blackburn isn't, so there's no discrepancy
            c) the point is the current world champion is not a Dvorak typist

            Chill.

          • Matthew Fry

            Ah. I mistook world champion for world record.

          • lilleyt

            You just won the internet today for level-headedness in comments. Congrats. :)

          • GraveUypo

            looking at this i don't think dvorak wouldn't be much better than qwerty in portuguese, which is my native language. in fact, some of the least used consonants are placed on the home row, such as H, which is considerably rare to come by in portuguese, while some very common ones such as v, m and b are placed on the supposedly hardest to reach row (the bottom one), the same as qwerty. and on goes the list.

            so while qwerty is not really ideal in portuguese either, dvorak wouldn't solve anything. we'd need another, different standard layout and that would cause keyboard fragmentation. the industry needs a standard.

            there i defended it.

          • Sqube

            I can understand that you never thought it, but it's true. QWERTY was designed for typewriters. They had to keep certain groupings of letters far away from each other so you wouldn't jam the thing. QWERTY was explicitly designed with inefficiency in mind.

            DVORAK and all the other alternate keyboards aren't constrained in that fashion. If I wasn't set in my ways, I'd go learn it.

          • lilleyt

            You should try Minimak (http://www.minimak.org/). It's designed to give the benefit of Dvorak without the learning curve and without losing your QWERTY skills.

          • TK

            That's because it's a functional keyboard. The cost of learning a new keyboard for you, like many people, is greater than the benefit of comfort and speed that you'd get by learning DVORAK. I never would have switched if I wasn't procrastinating homework for hours in college. If however, you learned DVORAK first and then had to switch to QWERTY you would definitely think "curses, these keys are placed in a less than ideal manner". I use QWERTY at work as well and it doesn't hurt me, but it's so needless and utterly pointless.

        • JensAstrup

          The reason we don't DVORAK keyboards isn't because of schools teaching typing. It's because no company wanted to be the first to change their keyboards to DVORAK, because the main consumer of computers were older people who did work, not the kind of people who are willing to learn something all over again. Also, I typed that at 1am during finals soooo, I take no responsibility for whatever I am saying :P

          • Matthew Fry

            My wife is a teacher and we've had this conversation many times because she is in charge of the typing "club" at her school. She believes that DVORAK would be the best choice to introduce new students to and I disagree. It will only be frustrating to the child and everyone else. All the people that wish to use DVORAK need to change the keyboard layout on any computer they use which is impractical except on their own. A family computer is going to get left in DVORAK and frustrate a parent or even worse, the child will swap the keycaps. The student is going to go to the DMV or a school lab where the student doesn't have permission to change the layout and get frustrated. The only way we are going to see lasting change in keyboard layout is if a risk taking school administrator takes it upon themselves to enact district-wide policies of DVORAK only or DVORAK and QWERTY. Until then, DVORAK is impractical.

          • JensAstrup

            Yea, exactly. No one person feels compelled to change, because the entire system has to change at once for it not to be so daunting and impractical. We're as likely to switch to DVORAK as a society as we are to switch to the metric system :P

            Also, sorry about starting this complete tangent...didn't think anyone was even going to notice that comment I made :/

          • TK

            Neither did I haha. I shouldn't have been surprised that people knew what DVORAK was, but I was surprised about the opinions and knowledge on the subject.

          • TK

            I agree, and that's retarded. It wouldn't have to be one administrator, it would have to be nation-wide. And even then, it would cause a huge ruckus when those children reach working age and companies have to accomodate them or let them sight-type which would never happen. I'm guessing you're not defending QWERTY, but it annoys me that this is a case of doing something an idiotic way because everyone does it the same idiotic way and it's always been done that way. Kudos for you and your wife for having that conversation. To be honest, I agree with both you and your wife. I would be probably to teach them DVORAK first and then still have them go through the system and learn QWERTY as well since they'll need it, and then they can decide. That's what I'm planning to do with my kids (I'll let you know in 20 years whether it works). Kids are extremely smart and once they learn a second keyboard it's like learning a second language. If you use them both you can easily switch between the two.

          • TK

            I partially agree with that and I addressed that a bit in the early part of my comment. I think there's a lot of things and they all feed each other. No company (My guess is it's only one, Microsoft who builds it into Windows) is going to make DVORAK the default keyboard layout because no one learns it in school. No one learns it in school because it's impossible to find in the computer settings and no one cares enough to do it. Most people don't even realize multiple keyboards exist, I never did until I heard an obscure reference by an author on a podcast, and even then I did hours of research to find out what it was and how to do it. I thought DVORAK was a physical keyboard. Also, I typed mine at 5am after drafting a research proposal, so you're in good company :-)

        • Aaron Stedfast

          You know, after reading your post, I had to go look up some info on DVORAK. It's certainly interesting. One thing that struck me is how typing on a phone is reminiscent of the DVORAK notion of left-right-left-right... I alternate thumbs for ease on my phone.... Hmmmmm.... Mebbe there is something to this!

        • LewisSD

          its not just that they are taught in schools its because it has become the industry standrad, like USB cables. Sure its less efficient but there is a better chance of switching the US measuring system from imperial to metric. QUERTY was actually developed for typers to slow down so the type writers would not jam back in the day, but this keyboard has become the standard and practically everyone uses it.

    • lilleyt

      To compare it to regular typing on a keyboard misses the point. Of course it will be slower. The proper comparison is whether it is faster than the other Android keyboard alternatives. With practice, clearly it would be. The layout is still QWERTY so there's little to learn other than how to get the proper keys to appear.

      That said, it's no substitute for a real keyboard, but then again, neither is the stock screen keyboard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/santiago.gomezflor Santiago Gomez

    look cumbersome

  • http://twitter.com/fzammetti Frank W. Zammetti

    I tried it, and while I suppose I could imagine getting used to it I'm not sure it's worth the time. But, that's just one man's opinion... what I think is really worth saying here is how TOTALLY AWESOME is the fact that we even see this sort of innovative creation?! You're not going to see it on any other major platform aside from Android, and if that's not the best selling point for the platform I don't know what is. Kudos for coming up with this and even though I can't see myself using it I *REALLY* strongly hope you do very well with it and make boatloads of money!

  • http://twitter.com/arcarbonaro Anthony Carbonaro

    I became entirely disinterested once I saw how fast he was actually getting words out. I've got the phone version of SwiftKey 3 on my Nexus 7 and I can pound out words faster than that and I don't need to set the tablet down.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      And all without looking either - SK just knows. I'm with you on that.

      Nevertheless, when I saw this keyboard, I knew we had to post about it. It's innovative and different and original when it comes to Android, and I appreciate the hell out of that.

  • Brian Walker

    Well, this was a really great way to find out that multitouch doesn't work very well on my Nexus 7. Either that, or the app isn't optimized for it yet.

    • Brian Inglut

      It's the app

      • Brian Walker

        I was going to write a review to bring it up, but thought I should just email the developer instead.

    • UniBroW

      My brother has told me multiple times that multitouch and just touch in general is bugged on his N7 when he's not holding it. As if it shorts out or something, he returned it and got another one and I believe he still suffers from the same issue. You can test it out with markers and try drawing on the screen when the tablet is resting on a couch or a table and then do the same thing while you're holding it.

      curious if you see a difference to be honest, I know with the N7 he returned it was bugged as all hell.

  • digi_owl

    makes me think of a stenography typewriter.

  • http://royblumenthal.com/portfolio royblumenthal

    The power of this keyboard lies in the fact that you don't have to look at the keyboard to use it. The problem these guys have solved is how to anchor your fingers on a non-physical keyboard.

    On a real keyboard, the 'f' and 'j' keys are ridged, so you can easily find them with your index fingers.

    Slice basically allows you to use muscle memory to locate any key, because at least two fingers are anchored on the screen at any given time.

    Like any keyboard, this one's gonna take time to learn. It's a different paradigm in typing, and it's completely centred on the touch screen.

    • MeCampbell30

      Yep, I'm glad they pursued this project even if this particular keyboard doesn't go anywhere. Touch typing just seems to get better and better. Baby steps to innovation.

    • TK

      I did not ever know that about the f and j keys. Thanks for the unintended education! That's a gamechanger.

  • http://jeremyperez.com Jeremy

    Just... No. I can use the gesture keyboard or Swype and type faster with 1 finger than he can with 6, and I don't use either of those regularly. Swiftkey is my default keyboard.

  • Jobeth Palacio

    YOUR HEAD ASPLODES

  • BrainOfSweden

    Finally a keyboard that you don't have to look at to type correctly, in theory at least. I don't have a tablet to try it on right now, but when I get one, this will be instantly downloaded. I really like this idea, and although the UI needs some graphical polishing, it still looks pretty good. I do realize this probably won't catch on a large scale, people are to lazy to learn when they can avoid it, but keep in mind that I am one of the people who fell in love with the 8pen: http://goo.gl/4IjzB

  • http://profiles.google.com/martin.cohen Martin Cohen

    What is needed is the FITALY keyboard from Palm PDAs.

  • Mars Mountain

    Well, lift your tablet from the table and try to use it. Steve Jobs would have said: "I hope it comes with an extra set of thumbs, or at least a foldable table, bwahaha"

  • Freak4Dell

    If the developer types 3 words a minute with it, how can he expect anyone else to be fast with it?

  • Al McDowall

    Not sure if you're bothered about this, it's pretty much grammar nazi stuff, but:

    But what works great on phones may not be so hot on a large-screen devices like a tablets

    should be either 'what works great on phones may not be so hot on large screen devices like tablets'

    or

    'what works great on phones may not be so hot on a large screen device like a tablet'

    Inconsequential stuff, but I had some time on my hands, so that's what I did with it!
    Weird looking keyboard, have to try it.

  • defred34

    WOw, innovative but bad. Played with it for 2 mins and couldn't make heads or tail of it!!

  • http://twitter.com/cthonctic Cthonctic

    It looks very stylish and interesting, but also totally impractical and slower than any modern keyboard with advanced word prediction.

  • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

    This looks pretty nuts, but still cool. Doesn't Steam's big picture mode have something like this now?

    Without having used it yet, one thing that seems like it could be troublesome is having to keep at least one finger on the screen in addition to selecting the letter you want. With everything popping up and hiding constantly, it looks like a nightmare for hunt-and-peck typists, or even just until you memorize the layouts.

  • GraveUypo

    that's what i always wanted, a keyboard that's slower than thumb-typing, takes more screen real-state and that i have to learn all over again just to be able barely use it.

  • lilleyt

    ASETNIOP (http://asetniop.com/) is another mind-blower that uses chording (multiple fingers at the same time) to make keys accessible on the limited screen space.

  • didibus

    I type faster with the stock keyboard and only my thumbs, so either the guy in the demo is typing slower then he can, or this new keyboard just isn't worth it.

  • Tanmay Gandhi

    Patent it ... before the fruits steal your idea...!

  • ChumbleSpuzz

    Nobody types on a tablet this way! I'd like to see him try typing while holding the tablet at the same time sitting on the couch.

  • Greyhame

    LOL. I'm sorry, but no.

  • xmRipper

    This is the biggest fail app ever.

  • http://www.cbldatarecovery.com/ ChrisArchitect

    wow, what is going on here, it looks like an interface designed for Data from Star Trek. Multi-touch/full hand typing is a lost art. Gesture/swype is poised to become much more common on smaller devices (one finger/ease of use etc) and tablets are perfecting standard qwerty with every revision.....tough sell, this

  • http://twitter.com/SunShine_K SunShine_K

    Already removed from Play....

  • krn

    does somebody recall 8pen keyboard for mobiles? :)

  • Justdroppingby

    Dvorak is a nerdy version of Esperanto.

  • mohammad

    It's amazing to learn a new way to type...

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