The Minuum Keyboard Project Beta Hands-On


A few months ago we highlighted a new smartphone keyboard project that does away with the half screen, invasive keyboard overlay that pops up every time you go to type something.
I became a backer for the project, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to a great amount of skepticism. Having one small strip on the bottom of the screen with all the letters jumbled together into one row, and then relying on an algorithm to predict what words I was trying to type seemed a bit far-fetched. After all, if this sort of tech existed, why wouldn’t it already be worked into existing, full keyboards?
The beta version of Minuum was released to backers yesterday, and I finally got a chance to check out this new “solution” to mobile typing. Is it everything the developers said it will be?
Minuum is amazingly accurate. Yes, there are more than a few bugs since this is merely a beta, but my goodness; I can’t believe this actually works! The letters are laid out in a strip on the bottom, but they still retain a squashed QWERTY layout. As a result, as long as you are button pressing in the general vicinity of the letters your are intending to type, Minuum will almost always correctly predict the word. The ability to upload your contact names and personal dictionary into Minuum makes this an even more awesome experience.
For words that Minuum does not yet recognize, you can long press anywhere on the keyboard, and a “zoomed in” version pops up, allowing for individual, accurate letter presses. Once you’ve entered your word, Minuum will remember it, and life goes on.
The amazing thing about Minuum is even though there is a learning curve, it’s fairly easy to pick up and use. Sloppy typing isn’t an issue here; in fact, it’s encouraged. There’s a few gestures such as swipe to the right for a space, swipe to the left for backspace, and swipe down to access the numbers menu that took a while to get used to. At first I kept looking for the spacebar to tap, and it was a slight turnoff to realize that it wasn’t there. But these issues are not dealbreakers; they are mere annoyances that I got over quickly.
What Minuum gives us is the ability to actually look at what you’re typing without having to stare at the keyboard. Minuum is banking on the fact that subconsciously, we all know the QWERTY layout like the back of our hands, and our fingers know where they need to be. Minuum makes it a bit easier by only requiring your fingers to “kinda sorta” be in the general vicinity of where they need to be, and the app will take care off the rest.
We’ll keep you posted as bugs are ironed out and Minuum continues to develop. If the beta is any indication, we may have an amazing new virtual keyboard on our hands. For more info, check out Minuum’s website.