By the way: I write most of my blogs not on a desktop computer, but rather on my cellphone (Samsung S7).
I enjoy the ability to build upon ideas by working with text—but I cannot stand the inefficiency and strain of using standard layouts (on desktops or phones). Indeed, I find that toiling with such setups impedes my thought-process.
Because of this, I created my own keyboard layout for my phone, one that, after much practice, is exceedingly faster and more comfortable…and I don’t have to look at the keyboard—at all—while typing!
Following was my progression:
(3) Messagease, customized
(4) Messagease, blank
(5) Omniease (Multiling O layout)
(6) Omniease, blank
(1) Samsung Keyboard
This default keyboard is uncomfortable and inefficient, must be looked at when typing, and is better only than nothing.
While trying out every single major keyboard in the Play store, I happened upon Messagease. It was very weird and different. Its giant 9-key layout uses touch-screen ability of swiping to make each key the input for several letters, depending on if you tap or swipe. Still, I thought the keyboard was much too big, way too ugly, and too different (hard to learn). But after giving up on it a few times, then revisiting it—I started realizing the superiority of the layout (which, according to the Messagease makers is better “based on science”). Then I discovered how exceptionally customizable is the Messagease keyboard.
(3) Messagease (SFTU customized)
In my spare time, I thought about how to improve the layout for my Messagease keyboard, grouping together letters that frequently occur together, for example:
apostrophe by “s” for the extremely common instances of contractions and possesives; e by d; l by y; g next to n (for a quicker, easier “ing” that so often occurs in English); c by k; another c next to h (along with “w” and “g,” which also occur often with “h”).
Note: I was initially annoyed that I could not customize the main 9 keys (anihortes), but gradually I realized the utility of their layout for typing English.
(4) Messagease (Invisible)
In their documentation, the makers of Messagease mention how some studies suggested that, as long as you know the general grid of your 9-key layout, then you will likely type faster when your layout is “blank,” because you won’t waste time looking at the keyboard. This did Not seem intuitive at first — at all — but eventually, as I became more and more familiar with my layout, I began to experiment with using a blank keyboard. After using a blank keyboard “clicks,” and suddenly “makes sense” — it is amazing.
(5) Omniease on Multiling O
(OmniEase Shown config file DOWNLOAD)
Despite how much I liked my Messagease layout (especially compared to standard layouts), I didn’t like how huge it was. Then one day, while trying out Swiftkey, I noticed an awesome feature: swipe right for spacebar. Immediately it clicked in my mind that if I could find a customizable-enough keyboard, then I could apply the great 9-key concept of Messagease, the swipe-right spacebar of Swiftkey, and maybe (if the keyboard were customizable enough) some other tweaks that I had thought about.
I found Multiling O (the O standing for “Omni”), and could hardly be happier. Following are a few features I plugged into my layout:
(1) Fully customized 9-key (in Messagease, several of the slides are hard-coded to certain functions like “tab” and “return”).
(2) One slide for multiple letters: my “the” and “ing” buttons are SO nice to have! (And how often do you type “q” without “u”? Me: pretty much never — so I have a “qu” button).
(3) Notice my Delete button on the middle row, left column:
(a) tap is Delete;
(b) slide right is delete forward;
(c) slide left is delete a whole word;
(d) slide down-left (or down-right) deletes an entire line to the left (or right);
(e) up-left is cut;
(f) up is copy;
(g) down is paste.
Remember: All these functions can be done fast!—and without looking at the keyboard (after plenty practice with the Messagease 9-key layout).
(4) Notice my bottom-left key:
(a) tap hides the keyboard;
(b) left or right moves the cursor one letter over;
(c) up-left or up-right moves the cursor one word over;
(d) down-left or down-right moves the cursor to the beginning or end of the line;
*(e) if I first tap my shift button (top-left), then all those actions (a through d) move the cursor—while highlighting!
(5) Last that I’ll mention, and farthest from least are my top-right and middle-right buttons, which have matching functions, so that they act as one long button, making them even more easy and comfortable to use:
(a) tap: voice input: the only thing that (with exceptions) is faster, easier, and more comfortable than typing on my Omniease layout.
(b) Left and right: UNDO & REDO!! UNBELIEVABLY useful buttons!;
(c) top-left: custom internet search courtesy of Honso, the wonderful developer of Multiling O;
(d) top-right: prints today’s date (and the current time). 2019_02_19(3:02). Love it! helps with quick organizing;
(e) bottom-left & bottom-right: tranform text to all-caps or all-lowercase. These are only useful when they’re useful, but when they are useful — they are VERY useful!
(6) Omniease (blank)
This is my everyday keyboard. The layout is the same as the shown layout in #5 — just invisible.
(OmniEase Hidden config file DOWNLOAD)
BIG NOTE about OmniEase hidden layout: Even with a LOT of practice on Messagease, it was initially VERY hard to use a blank layout (Messagease has a great option to toggle the layout invisibility — which makes practicing so much easier!). Even today, I keep both OmniEase layouts — hidden and shown. I don’t forget anymore where a key is (though often I did at first), but sometimes seeing the keys together gives me ideas about how better to design the layout (I have made well over a hundred changes to the layout, here and there, since changing to Multiling).
Multiling O keyboard let’s you make Totally customized keyboards. I call my custom layout “Omniease,” as an homage to both Messagease and Multiling O. I’ve been using “Omniease” for more than a year, and I could hardly be happier with it.
I can type so fast with my keyboard, and without ever looking at it. However, even if it were no faster, and even if I had to look at the keys; regardless, I would still so much prefer this keyboard over any other I have ever used—because it is SO comfortable!
If you feel like a change and a challenge, then check out Messagease in the Playstore, and customize it to your liking. And if you’re comfortable with the logic necessary for very basic coding, then check out Multiling O. Both are free—but if you ask me, both Exideas with Messagease and Honso with Multiling O deserve a donation from those whom they benefit with their efforts.