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April 4th, 2009

iTypeFastR is an app for iPhone, that adds a special keyboard. The keyboard allows you to type faster and with less typos, because on average the keys are much larger. This keyboard makes better use of the available room on the screen. Often used letters are used more then less used ones. On average, you therefor hit bigger buttons. Click the video on the right to see it in action.

iTypeFastR is free for the first 5000 users! After hese users, You'll get to try it free for 20 days, after which we'll ask you to pay $3.99 to continue using the keyboard. If you like it and use it every day, we think that is a really reasonable fee.

The most important reasons the keyboard works so well are the following:

Much larger keys for the letters used most often
An 'E' is 12,7% of all your touches, a 'Q' less then 0,1% (source: this wikipedia entry on letter frequencies). That's 127 times more E's than Q's. They do not deserve the same screen real estate. Especially if you consider screen estate is super scarce on the iPhone for typing. The standard keys are quite small, I felt they were slightly too small to feel comfortable I'd hit the right key. iTypeFastR aims to fix this.

We took the letter frequencies in the English language as a basis for our design. For the numeric screen, we used the frequencies used in all tweets tracked by Twitstat. @Michielb of Twitstat gave us the frequencies of all characters, based on 1 milion tweets.

Optimized key design based on extensive testing
Adjusting the design pixel by pixel to get it just right.
Since the first test version we have been adjusting and perfecting the coordinates not just theory, but through a lot of practice.

One of the first things we did, was make the second row of keys a different color than the other rows. Although we havent't changed the basic QWERTY layout, we have put the 'W' under the 'Q', for example, to make room to make the keys as wide as they need to be. To still intuitively keep your fingers in the right spot, we've make the second row blue: that way it still looks as the rows you recognize from QWERTY.

We found out the coordinates should not exactly match the graphics to get the best results. For some letters, the actual sensitivity area stops a little higher than the graphics, because we tend to slide down a bit on the bottom of the screen.
Based on the typos we made, we 'sawed, shaved, sanded and polished' it into where it is now.

We have done dozens and dozens of small changes, adding a pixel here, changing coordinates bit by bit to get it right. We believe that in this passionate chnaging of the smallest details a product get from good to great, so we keep polishing!

Special features based on our user's input
We've taken users input to make it (even ;-) better

We've moved the DELETE away from the ENTER, because people mistakenly submitted stuff they were about to delete.
Maarten (@dutchcowboy), thanks for suggesting that!

We've made special key on the numeric keybaord for ':-)' in one keystroke. @Iskandr, thanks for suggesting that!

We've put the '.' on the same screen on the letters, and had our testers feedback on placement and size

So please help us make iTypeFastR better, and submit your suggestions in our Uservoice feedback forum


It's been said that all great inventions come from personal frustration: well, this one did! On my olde Pocket PC i wanted to use my fingers instead of the stylus, and be able to type fast, to be able to take notes in meetings, or quickly jot down a thought.

I have made a solution basing in the same 'invention' for pocket pc. I made it just for myself, never released it to the public.

It was based on the software of SPB FullScreen Keyboard Which allows you to specify sensitive areas with one part of a BMP file, and the look and feel with another part. This is how it looked on a Pocket PC (in january 2005).

PocketPC Proto version of iTypeFastR

When the iPhone was about to come out, i read about the touch screen and thought: this begs for a solution like my keyboard!