Some things we never thought we'd see. Like Microsoft somewhat getting their act together or Rod Blagojevich kind of sort of admitting his guilt. Or a virtual on-screen keyboard for webOS smartphones, especially in the App Catalog. Now, webOS 3.0 and the TouchPad by necessity have a virtual keyboard, and it's been demonstrated to work at phone sizes, and way back when there was even a hack to enable one in webOS 2.x, though it never really made it to primetime.
Now, live in primetime and the webOS App Catalog is a new app by D Gardner: Quick-Keys Keyboard. The app throws a virtual keyboard into the notification area that you can use to type on your Pre without ever opening up the keyboard. Or you can use it on a TouchPad, if you're thinking the default virtual keyboard is just too darn big at any size. This $0.99 app lives in your notification area, ready to pop up and get you typing with a mere tap. Well, at least a close approximation of typing.
Somewhat by necessity, Quick-Keys Keyboard types words one-at-a-time in the dashboard and a space or enter sends them into the appropriate app. It's a tedious existence, especially without any predictive or autocorrecting type available. Obviously we'd prefer that it put the letters we type in the app's text field as we type them, but we also can't imagine this was particularly easy to code. Maybe in a future update - perhaps one that brings a serious visual refresh. webOS is by-and-large an elegant operating system and the Mojo and Enyo SDK widgets have ensured that it's not hard to make apps that look good too. Quick-Keys does not.
Despite the relative ugly, Quick-Keys Keyboard does bring some neat features, like a quick-text option that lets you set up to 28 different one-tap shortcuts that circumvent the one-word-at-a-time typing method for pre-canned messages that appear in your text field with a single tap. It can also insert the current date/time, and in a format of your choosing. Quick-Keys Keyboard has some potential as a creative solution to a problem that's been with webOS for three years now, but it's going to need some serious user interface and experience polish before it's ready for primetime.
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