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Minuum for Android: Possibly its first ever Review that’s written via Minuum

This article is written on a Minuum keyboard. It may well be the very first article ever written entirely on a Minuum keyboard.

Am I liking it? It has its moments.

Minuum is the new keyboard option that’s designed by a company called Whirlscape and which has just been made available for Android phones. The app promises to make touch typing much easier on small devices.

I was excited about the Minuum promise when I first heard about it thanks to their sneak peek video. I even suggested that Apple grab the company if they’re serious about doing wearable computing.

So does the promise hold water?

For starters, I must say that the learning curve is pretty light. After a few quick guide screens, I was up and running:

Easy instructions 1 20130820-Review-Minuum-keyboard-screen-2-Technoodling 20130820-Review-Minuum-keyboard-screen-3-Technoodling

It’s important to know that the premise behind the concept is that you are a touch typer on a regular keyboard. This modest skill will allow you to navigate the Minuum with ease since your fingers’ muscle memory will know whether to go left or right to hit the proper keys.

The valuable contribution of the keyboard is that it is very forgiving and lets you hammer away with, uh, minimum precision and still get the word that you wanted. The heuristics are good and, 95 percent of the time, it gets it right, or at least offers alternative words that are just a click away. When it doesn’t get it, it usually is just a matter of hitting the Delete and typing again: in other words the problem may have been with you.

Plus it has decent predictive abilities and can guess your next word the way that Swype and other keyboards do. It improves with use.

It works great for straight English. For Tagalog,  well, it probably says something that the word “Tagalog” wasn’t even in its default dictionary. In which case you can place two fingers on the keyboard and toggle a regular keyboard into place. To its credit, new words quickly show up as options the next time around.

Am I liking it?

Hmmmm.

Let’s put it this way. I still think that this holds great promise as a keyboard option for devices with very small screen space. Like a smart watch for instance. This could still be useful for wearable computing.

But on a regular smartphone, especially one with a huge screen like a Note 2, maybe not. And here’s why.

It is tiring. Tapping the bottom of your phone for a prolonged period, like the time it takes to type out this entire article, eventually wears you out because of the way you have to hold the phone to balance its center of gravity as you tap. Phew. You quickly realize that once you’ve gone swipe instead of tap, you don’t ever wanna go back.

Especially on a broad phone like the Note because you have to make your thumb reach the distant edge again and again. It’s tendonitis waiting to happen.

The Return key too in particular requires an upward swooping motion that means an extra extension of your thumb. Once you’re tired, chances are of gets difficult to do that extra swoop and it turns into a Space. Argh.

Enter key needs a thumb-extending swipe-up motion

Enter key needs a thumb-extending swipe-up motion

My big wish for Minuum is that they somehow figure out how to make this a swipe-style keyboard so that you just need to slide your thumb left and right. Because Swype has spoiled me badly.

So to summarize, I like the concept. Minuum actually does work and holds great promise for small devices that don’t have screen space for a big keyboard option.

But for regular use I think I’ll stick with Swype. Or even with voice dictation. Tapping is just so… tiring.

Minuum Keyboard for Android

Price: ~Php 170.00
Available at Google Play

Likes

  • Minimum space requirement on screen, which is the app’s big promise
  • Pretty reliable word guessing algorithms
  • Great promise … especially for tiny devices

Dislikes

  • Tapping is so yesterday. Even with its promise of worry-free tapping, you’re still tapping… and it can get tiring eventually, especially as you balance your phone to reach your screen’s bottom rung
  • All English all the time. If you’re a Taglish/Filipino writer, then this ain’t for you. There’s a looong learning phase before it gets the entire language down. You’re better off getting Swype plus its Tagalog pack
Art

Art

Art is a long-time editor for a number of technology publications. He is a Palanca-winning writer (he got lucky) whose day job is to try to be as serious as possible while being a management consultant and lecturer. His favorite noodles: chapchae.

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