keyboard

We recently covered a growing thread over at the XDA Developers forum with Windows Phone owners reporting an issue with the on-screen keyboard disappearing from view without accidentally pressing the "back" capacitive button. We were told that Microsoft is currently looking into the problem.

Greg Fonta, a French Windows Phone developer, has investigated the root of the problem. It appears to be related to a Mango feature (as seen in the above video), Background Agents. These agents allow apps to run tasks when currently inactive and not running in the foreground. 

According to the report at WMPU, disabling Background Agents appears to rectify the issue. This can be accomplished by navigating to Settings > applications > background tasks and disabling Background Agents on a per application basis.

Does this workaround work for you? If not, which handset do you own that experiences the problem?

Source: WMPU

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A number of Windows Phone users running Mango have complained about their keyboards performing a disappearing act and I can confirm that mine too vanishes on the rare occasion. An active thread is accumulating posts over at the XDA Developer forum with experiences and complaints. Microsoft has since confirmed that they are looking into the reports with a reply to a Twitter user who tweeted about the issue. Mary Jo Foley, of ZDNet, received a statement from the software giant:

Customer support is working with the individuals reporting changes to their experience. We are investigating these reports to determine the root cause of any issues users are having.

Have you come across this problem?

Source: Twitter, ZDNetXDA Developer forum, via: WinRumors

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I'm not really sure what to make of this, it's as though Microsoft plans to not only provide you with a powerful, simplistic handset, but to throw in some Nintendo Wii Remote-type accessories as well if this patent is anything to go by. Should this indeed turn out to be the case, that all future Windows Phone handsets will have a slide-out accessory expansion slot, then it could open up a whole new realm of opportunity.

From the trusty external keyboard that aids typing to a battery extension to a game pad that gives the user an edge in gaming, I'm sure Microsoft has bags of imagination (as anyone would) surrounding this idea. As for me I'm not one to fuss about moving/interchangeable parts as I'm fully aware that hardware wears out. It's one of the reasons why I adore my Samsung Omnia7 - it's just a block with no moving parts (sliding keyboard etc.).

"A mobile communication device comprises a first device with a first display and multiple second devices. The second devices are releasably attachable to the first device and are interchangeable with each other. The mobile device can operate as a mobile cell phone with one or more second devices operable as a mobile phone hand set. The second devices can comprise one or more game controllers, batteries, physical keyboards and/or mobile phone handsets with a display. In a detached configuration, the first device is separated from the second devices and can wirelessly communicate with one or more of the detached second devices. In a three device configuration, the first device can send commands, control signals or content to one or more external devices in addition to the second devices."

It's interesting to note that the secondary devices (accessories for the smartphones) will be able to work wirelessly without being connected to a handset. Still, I remain skeptical. Let us not forget the integration with Kinect we could be experiencing in the future.

Source: Patent, via: BGR, Unwired

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Sliding Keyboard updated to v1.8

First off, we recommend turning your light on and off continuously throughout the above YouTube video. Extra bass helps too. Anyway, the above demo is of Sliding Keyboard for Windows Phone 7, version 1.8. We recently covered the app at verson 1.7, a day before the update was submitted.

What's changed? The major improvement is speed of rendering text after you've swiped your heart out on-screen.  Smaller relevant dictionaries, better localization support (with multiple keyboard layouts) and an option to translate text has been thrown in.

You can download Sliding Keyboard from the Marketplace for 79p ($.99). For those who already use the app, keep an eye out for an available update.

 

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While we previously wrote about how Swype could look to move onto the Windows Phone platrform with Nokia heading up the show, this is some pretty interesting development by Invoke IT. The above demo of the app Sliding Keyboard is performed by YouTube user hermitd31.

This app is standalone and allows the user to swipe instead of type. The keyboard is a slight shade of blue to differentiate between the stock keyboard and should the user tap in the text area while Sliding Keyboard is active WP7 will take over with the default popping up. One is able to swipe and save to the clipboard for import in other apps.

You can download Sliding Keyboard from the Marketplace for a mere 79p and while the majority of reviews are somewhat negative, it's good to see a Swype alternative that's readily available.

Via: WPSauce

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Swype coming to WP7 via Nokia?

Swype, a virtual keyboard maker, is said to be pinning hopes on Nokia diving into Windows Phone 7 development so they can possibly move to Microsoft's mobile platform as well as covering tablets running Windows. We recently covered how Swype made entry with WinMo and shifted a good 90% of its business to Android.

For those who aren't familiar with the technology behind Swype, it allows you to swipe your finger across a virtual keyboard to create words instead of typing. Earlier this year Swype secured a $3.5 million investment from Ignition Partners and while they've turned profitable in recent quarters, CEO Mike McSherry explains the funding will help further development and deploy on other platforms.

Do you want to see Swype on your WP7 handset, or a future Windows tablet for that matter? Check out a short video of Swype (on a tablet) after the break.

Source: Examiner

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A Better OS, a Better Keyboard

If you’ve used a competitive OS to Windows Phone 7 that features an on-screen keyboard (notably Android and iOS) you will surely agree with me when I say that the keyboard present on our WP7 devices blows everything else out the water. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s close.

Microsoft Research has published an article that provides a fantastic insight into the keyboard and how it has been developed to adapt to users with how the habit of typing isn’t entirely accurate (for some key presses we may place our finger on the top-right of a key almost touching a neigh-borough key). Read on after the break.

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Everyone hates un-finished products, but to have a smartphone only limited to one language? If you aren't familiar with what I mean, back in December we covered how the HTC HD7 on T-Mobile was the only device which was limited to having English as the only available language setting. As one would expect, many have been relatively annoyed by the lack of multi-lingual support - in this case, Spanish speaking Americans.

As well as explaining the problem and why it occurred (due to "lack of time"), HTC also stated to Jeff (he got in touch with HTC about the problem and tipped us originally) that "by February this should not be an issue", meaning the NoDo update should see more languages supported by the device.

It seems HTC (or T-Mobile) hasn't lived up to their promise and Jeff has now reported to us that multi-lingual keyboard support is still missing. Bizarre, more than anything. On one side of the wall you have Microsoft being beaten to death by an angry mob while desperately attempting to apologize for previous mistakes, and on the opposite side you have HTC making promises they don't seem able to keep.

Looking at the same thread at the T-Mobile forums that Jeff brought to our attention months ago, a few recent, post-update, concerns have been voiced.

Alternative explanation? With Samsung and Dell shipping firmware updates in addition to the February/March updates, perhaps, just perhaps, the HD7 will also be getting a separate firmware update that will fix this as well as other "issues". We'll keep an eye out.

Thanks for the tip, Jeff!

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Last we checked, despite our delusions and self aggrandizement, the world doesn't revolve around English. And while parts of the world await for Microsoft to bless them with native language support, some inspiring lads are taking into their own hands. (Maybe they can fix the T-Mo HD7?)

In the above case, it's Thai, which wins for coolest looking alphabet in our eyes (Korean is really neat too). It's only for Samsung devices at the moment, but it's getting there. This joins Hebrew, which was hacked a few weeks ago at XDA as pointed out by 1800pocketpc and JapaneseGood stuff.

Source: WinPhoClub; Thanks, @TonHor for the tip!

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Update: HTC has contacted Jeff directly and corrected themselves. Evidently, it was due to "lack of time" as to why the extra language packs were not included and that they will be added in an update. As interesting, they said "by February this should not be an issue". which gives more credence to that rumored update coming down the road.

It turns out that the choices for keyboard languages (ergo configuration, see Settings --> Keyboard) are an option left up to OEMs and carriers. While most Windows Phones have multiple languages supported (e.g. French, German, Italian, Spanish and English) the HD7 curiously has only English on board.

Why that is remains a mystery, but at least according to HTC, the decision was not theirs:

If your Windows Phone 7 does not contain a display language that you would like to use, there is currently no way to get a new language pack installed on the phone. Microsoft makes language packs available (as they're created) to the device manufacturers (OEMs) at the time of manufacturing and it is up to the device manufacturer and mobile operator to decide which languages to include. In this case, it was T-Mobile’s decision to only include English.

As a result, some Spanish speaking Americans (who make up more than 12% of the population) are a little bit upset. Specifically, when they type in Spanish, it auto-corrects their words since the dictionary is dependent upon language selection. What's more, the HD7 on T-Mobile seems to be alone in this single language support when compared other WP7 devices (as far as we know at the moment).

No response from T-Mobile on the issue, but hopefully they'll make a note of it to include in an update in the future. Till then, you multi-lingual folk may want to steer clear of that phone if you think this matters to you.

[See also possible reception and magenta camera issues]

Source: T-Mobile Support Forums; Thanks, Jeff G., for the link

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Review: SlideIT

Dasur software has recently released SlideIT for Windows Phone as an alternative to the traditional on-screen keyboard. SlideIT will not only allow you to use the keyboard in a traditional manner (pressing one key at a time) or you can slide your finger across the letters to create words.

Sounds a lot like Swype, right? There are a few differences with SlideIT that separates it a little from Swype. After the jump, we'll give you a quick low-down on this new keyboard alternative.

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Review: Freedom Pro Bluetooth Keyboard

In this never ending quest to find the ultimate mobile device that meets all of our needs while still being portable enough to still be considered a mobile device, one feature that is constantly mentioned as a weak link is the size (or complete lack) of the hardware keyboard. While many people (myself included) hate on the lack of hardware keyboards in different devices, the truth is that it is purely a matter of preference. Obviously though, no software keyboard (or mobile phone based hardware keyboard) can duplicate the usability of a full sized keyboard.

We’ve played with a number of Freedom’s products on this site. Though everything from Keychain GPS receivers to portable Battery Chargers are available from Freedom, their line of Bluetooth Keyboards is their primary niche. The Freedom Pro Bluetooth Keyboard could be considered Freedom’s flagship product. The keyboard folds in half to make it as portable as possible while still giving you as much keyboard real estate as possible.

Hit the jump for my thoughts.

Pros: 
Almost a full-sized keyboard. portable.
Cons: 
Not compatible with all devices.
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Just the other day we were talking about how the "L337 |-|4> Swype from the Verizon Omnia II.

We also lamented both in print and the podcast about how this is a double edged sword for the little Seattle company: tons of exposure and praise, but peeps are stealing your goods!  Then again, we suggested that OEMs may see the great press featuring Swype and see they want that on their devices.

Looks like the latter happened (we won't say told you so). Nokia and Samsung have invested $5.6 million into the fledgling company, which has to have caused a lot of popping of corks this week.

Guess we can look forward to more Swype in official (and unofficial) devices in 2010.  Sounds good to us.  Speaking of, are you using Swype yet?

[via UnwiredView]

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You almost have to feel sorry for the companies that dare place their proprietary software onto a Windows phone these days.  For if it is good software, the hounds are let loose to rip it out and .cab it for all others to use within moments.

The latest victim would be Swype, the new fangled keyboard app that is featured on the Verizon Omnia II.

The app is available in .cab form and acts just like another optional input system on your device, so there is no need to only use it while learning its funky moves.  It is suppose to work on Touch Pro 2, Diamond 2 (Pure) and other VGA+ devices, though mileage may vary (reports of ROM variation having an effect have been reported).

[via 1800 PocketPC]

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Will Swype sweep you off your feet?

Our pals at Android Central seem a little stoked that the Swype keyboard is coming to Android. And they should be. They have capacitive screens. (Yeah, we're going there again.) That said, we're still not convinced this is going to revolutionize on-screen keyboards, and we're not too crazy about the side-by-side test you see above. But what we do love are options, and Swype certainly presents that. Look for it next week on the Samsung Omnia II. [Techcrunch]

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Software Keyboard Roundup

One of the big selling points of Windows Mobile at this point is the amount of choice you have when you are looking to buy a device. Whereas some of Microsoft’s competitors in the Smartphone market are pushing one piece if hardware on one carrier, you can find Windows Mobile phones in all shapes and sizes on your carrier of choice. Honestly it’s kind of ironic that Microsoft is one of the more “open” or “accessible” choices when it comes to buying a handheld.

A priority when choosing a new piece of Windows Mobile hardware is what input method you prefer to use. I think most of us would agree that the software keyboard in Windows Mobile leaves a bad taste in your mouth, especially when compared to what is offered on some of the more popular hardware on the market.

With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at a small selection of what is available from third party developers in the way of software keyboards.

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Review: Freedom Slim Bluetooth Keypad

Typing is one of the first and hardest things to get used to when you are getting started on a mobile platform. One of the biggest decisions when seeking a new device is what style of keyboard fits your personal preference. Many people find the tactile feedback of a hardware keyboard indispensable; while others would prefer a slimmer device, relying on the software keyboard for their text based needs.

Freedom’s Slim Keypad ($69.95) attempts to bridge the gap between these realms. Traditionally, portable Bluetooth keyboards have been designed to fold up into a compact package. Freedom attacks the problem from a different angle by offering a thumb keypad that is about the height and width of a credit card.

To find out how much punch this keypad packs, stick around after the break.

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HTC Diamond Keyboard: available for all

Well if you've been following the whole HTC Touch Diamond release info, you may have noticed the "new" soft keyboard that will be shipping with the device. The keyboard, by most hands-on reviews, has been praised as quite the improvement on the previous Touch keyboard (although perhaps a tad "busy" looking).

Of course one very popular alternative is the TouchPal keyboard (see v3 info), however that one will cost you a modest $13.

But if you're interested in that new HTC Touch Diamond one, seems as if some crafty XDA'ers (namely P1Tater) have scored a copy of that software and .cab'd it up for an easy install.

Couple of notes:

  • install is a bit slow, but normal
  • default language is Italian (change to English in settings)

Other than that, feedback has been quite positive. Give it a spin and let us know!

More Info:

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