Maemo UI improvements blog.

December 29, 2009

2010 UI countdown. #2 – Mer Keyboard

Filed under: Mer — Tags: , , , , , — Andrew Zhilin @ 23:51

Good evening everyone.

3 days before 2010 and we’re close to the end of 2010 user interface countdown. Today I’d like to show you another concept for Mer operating system. As you probably remember, I told that the main goal for Mer interface is to be as much hardware independent as possible. That’s why it needs proper onscreen keyboard. I have some ideas how to make typing experience a bit more deep and they are after the break, as always. Take a look.

So. The main problem for touchscreen finger friendly (and it should be finger friendly anyway, cause we have to think about capacitive screens too) keyboard – the main problem that comes to mind is space. You just can’t fit any key you want on the screen. Some of them should be placed under tabs, some should be sacrificed. But then I thought that touchscreen can understand not only simple taps or double taps but gestures as well, such as tap and flick. Currently, on most devices it’s used for typing capital letters but since they all have shift there anyway – nobody uses it actually. (You are? Comment ) So let’s use it for real action, not fictional one! There you go.

As an example I’ve added “Tab” sub-label to the “Shift” button. Just tap and flick your finger up to press Tab. It can be “Caps-Lock” as well. You can also notice two arrows on the language switcher – these are copy and paste sub-labels. Flick up to paste and down to copy. And this white row in the middle is word auto-completion suggestions zone (a bit like in Illume keyboard).

This gestures system will also be very useful for non-english layouts, russian for example.

Now you don’t need to dig into tabs to type a letter – just flick it.

Well, that’s all for today, I hope you enjoyed this small article, thanks for reading and see you tomorrow to see the last article in this series.



  1. The idea of flicking is nice. Typing on the old N800 was a pain, going through tabs to search for a symbol.

    And it would be nice if there was a portrait on-screen keyboard, Maemo renders only a third of the screen if you try it in portrait.

    Comment by Andy — December 30, 2009 @ 05:12

  2. I like the new virtual keyboard design though how’s the missing / error rate for such size of buttons, because some people may just have big thumbs.

    Further more, is there any elegant way to know which key you just pressed? (like iPhone but not necessary)

    Comment by BBNS — December 30, 2009 @ 07:51

  3. > You are? Comment

    Since you asked, I use the Keyboard input method with the Large Keys option on my HTC Touch (WM 6.5). I find that using gestures for shift, space, backspace, and enter makes it more efficient than any of the newer input methods. It’s too bad that it looks terrible, but at least it takes up little screen space.

    I ended up getting a bluetooth keyboard for my N800, otherwise I can only type usefully quickly on it by using the full screen keyboard. The full screen keyboard makes it difficult to access many characters useful for entering URIs and shell commands (numbers, hyphens, slashes, etc).

    Comment by Dan — December 30, 2009 @ 09:58

  4. I’m using the “flick-gesture” for capital letters. Especially in languages like German (every noun starts with a capital letter) it’s a lot easier to type this way. According to a recent bug report, though, Nokia spoiled it again and removed this functionality altogether.

    Comment by Oskar — December 30, 2009 @ 11:52

    • @Oskar: The “flick-for-capital-letters”-feature was already in Maemo? You got a link at hand for that bug report you were referring to?

      Comment by Claudius — February 2, 2010 @ 13:23

      • @Claudius: The Bug is

        Yes, this is a feature that we had in Maemo since I-don’t-know-when. (Which means: I’m not sure if it worked that way on the 770, but I used it on the N800, N810 and N900 before the PR1.1 firmware.)

        PR1.1 removed this feature plus a number of other useful gestures for no reason.

        Comment by ossi1967 — February 2, 2010 @ 20:08

  5. A lot of great innovation there, but what about implementing stuff into the keyboard, that will let you “move” on the text you are viewing?

    Before the N900 I had the 5800XM. Scrolling down the page on this device was very good, but obviously once finger touches screen in a touch-UI, things can be falsely interpreted. Sometimes I would end up clicking on banners or links when I just wanted to scroll down the page. On the N900 it’s a completely different ballgame, however as you have the physical keyboard and you can scroll down by pressing FN+Arrows. The N900 doesn’t support multitouch, but perhaps at least for the Maemo 6 device something like this could be integrated into the on-screen QWERTY, so that you could press FN+Key on the screen to have the same effect of scrolling the page. Also, perhaps the Tab key could be used to “jump down” between text boxes, for example when you are entering your login information to a site such as GMail?

    Just throwing a few thoughts out there :)

    Comment by Chris — January 9, 2010 @ 17:29

  6. Сколько места пропадает при использовании русской раскладки в нижней части клавиатуры! Туда можно было бы упихать «б» и «ю» (а то и «ъ», хотя это и лишнее)! Нерациональное использование пространства отчётливо видно на скриншоте с русской раскладкой.

    Sorry for Russian. I wanna tell that there is a lot of unused space in Russian layout and its not comfortable to use special key to make able to use “blue” symbols.

    Comment by Kroll — February 3, 2010 @ 23:12

  7. Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman giving all your love to just one man.


    Comment by bebenajib — June 10, 2010 @ 02:30

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