21
Jun
Si-Thumb

I really don't want to hate Snapkey's Si Evolution keyboard. It's innovative, and as the forward thinking individual that I tell myself I am, I want to be encouraging. But here's the thing, innovative solutions should fix something. That's why they're called solutions in the first place. The Si Evolution keyboard is kind of cool, and given enough devotion, it might even speed up your typing, but it simply breaks more than it fixes.

Si-Banner

When I first launched Si Evolution, it crashed like that was its job. Yet since this app just left beta and doesn't officially launch until next week, I'll give it a pass for that. Now that the app works, it starts up with the usual keyboard orientation process that gets the job done, but it commits quite a few sins in the process. The how-to video links out to Chrome, rather than the YouTube app, and having a step demand that I go view another app by Snapkeys makes me feel squirmy. This type of behavior usually warrants an uninstall from me, but I'll admit I'm more uptight than most. Yet when you take in that god-awful menu button at the bottom of the screen on my HTC One, you can see why the setup process thoroughly left me with a bad first impression.

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Now for the meat and potatoes of the matter. In short, Si Evolution does away with the traditional qwerty setup and divides the alphabet into four different buttons. Three primary letters are emphasized on each button and must be pressed like normal keys would be. To access the remaining letters, tap the space between these four buttons and let the keyboard guess what letter you intended. While the predictions were terrible when Eric first tested the Snapkeys Si Keyboard beta six months ago, now they're pretty solid.

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That said, most of Eric's critique still applies. This "invisible" keyboard uses up every bit as much space as a traditional keyboard would. Instead of squeezing the app into half of the available screen real estate like most keyboards do, it simply plasters bright buttons on top of all of the information you care about. This can be a real usability issue in apps where the bottom half suddenly becomes inaccessible whenever the keyboard is up.

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While using Si Evolution has gotten easier over the course of the day, it still feels more like conquering a logic puzzle than perfecting a tool. I feel proud of myself when I successfully manage to peck out letters from the correct bubble, but I immediately panic and switch to a real keyboard when actual typing must be done. I simply have to think too much about getting the words on the screen to actually give thought to what it is I want to say. This is a particular hang-up that I don't have when typing on a keyboard, writing with a pen, or scraping a rock into a tree. All of those things are intuitive, even if they're not all efficient. This keyboard, sadly, is neither.

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At the end of the day, I'm writing this article on a computer, and this computer uses a qwerty keyboard just like all of the other keyboards in my life. It doesn't benefit me to make myself forget the qwerty key placement only to have to re-learn it every time I return to any other device. That said, it's kind of fun to tinker with Si Evolution for a while. It's free, so you have nothing to lose by derping around with it. Just don't expect to use this "invisible" keyboard for anything other than amusement.

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • evolutionx1

    My eyes... @_@

  • troph

    Interesting idea, but I'll take a transparency slider on Swiftkey or Swype over this.

    • mesmorino

      That is actually a brilliant idea, you should post it on Swiftkey's website. They have a VIP/dev forums thing where they take feature suggestions

      • Matthew Fry

        And then promptly ignore them.

        A little harsh yes, but there are problems they refuse to fix or admit exist.

    • Judith Johnson

      as Alexander said, I am surprised that any one able to earn $5045 in one month on the computer. have you read this site w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  • MasterMuffin

    Minuum is a lot better

    • Matthew Fry

      I'm digging Minuum a lot but it's not a one fingered/thumb'd operation. I guess I need bigger hands or a smaller phone...

  • Desmond

    Actually I have been using for the past day and love it.. Why does android Police hate on SnapKeys so much? You guys really don't want them to take off huh, they have a sick idea and it is on the right path to be a widely used keyboard for sure.

    • TornZero

      It's a good idea, yeah, but it just doesn't seem like that good of a keyboard in practice. Fleksy does the transparency thing much better. For example, this was typed using Fleksy's full screen keyboard. Minuum does a better job at visible minimalism, too.

  • Vardan Nazaretyan

    Installed, tried to type, uninstalled it after 17 seconds. Seems like pain in @$$ to type with this one.

  • Pman

    Dat menu button, facepalm :|