One of the most controversial aspects of Apple's mobile phone is its virtual keyboard, often considered unable to compete with the physical counterparts typical of PDAs or BlackBerry.
After previous research that we talked about a few weeks ago (to be honest, not very significant), User Centric has now conducted other tests on the usability of the Apple mobile phone keyboard.
This time the methodology was certainly more apt, also involving expert users, iPhone owners for at least a month, and comparing the typing ability both with devices equipped with a physical QWERTY keyboard, and with a classic numeric keypad.
The conclusion of several typing tests expressed by a clear sentence by Gavin Lew, Managing Director of User Centric: 'The transition to iPhone is a significant change for those accustomed to a numeric keypad; but if you come from a QWERTY keyboard, it would be better to try the iPhone in a shop before buying. "
This sentence summarizes all the results obtained from the test: the virtual keyboard of the iPhone, if compared to the classic QWERTY keyboard of the BlackBerry, less precise and unsuitable for writing.
Who writes on the iPhone not only makes more mistakes, but also tends not to improve his performance with the passage of time, a symptom that the problems related to typing do not concern users and their shrewdness, but the device.
It is no coincidence that the most common error while typing on the virtual keyboard of the multi-touch device is that of seeing a letter entered adjacent to the one you intended to press; errors only partially mitigated by the predictive system of the built-in dictionary, which in some cases helps the user, while in others it almost tends to hinder it, 'predicting' the words incorrectly.
In the case of the QWERTY keypad, on the other hand, the most common error is the inversion of the order of the letters (for example 'ie' instead of 'hello') error clearly due to the user and not to the device.
The writer, having personally tested the Apple's mobile phone writing system, can only confirm what emerged from the User Centric report. Although the virtual keyboard may represent a step forward compared to the more cumbersome numeric keypad used by most traditional cellphones, if we compare the iPhone writing system with that of a BlackBerry, we can only decree the latter as more precise and more functional to a correct drafting of a text.
A signal that should push Apple to work for the improvement of the typing system, especially if Steve Jobs aspires to make his mobile phone a real professional tool, an area where precision and speed in writing are a decisive element.