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David Eberle, Typewise: “if you were to design the optimal smartphone keyboard today – it would not be a QWERTY keyboard”

Even though time consumption while writing is very important, content quality should always go first.

The secret behind this task is to know how to use your time efficiently and have the right tools. Perfect example of such – is AI-powered text prediction solutions.

To find out why most people are still using 150-year keyboard ‘technology’ instead of jumping into more digitized options, Cybernews contacted David Eberle, CEO of Typewise – AI-powered writing and text prediction solution provider.

How did the idea of Typewise originate? What has your journey been like?

The idea of creating a keyboard app that’s optimized for smartphones came to me and my co-founder – Janis Berneker – several years ago.

We found that the legacy QWERTY layout was long outdated for smartphone use. We wanted to create a keyboard that was better suited for the way people were actually using their phones in the present day – ie – one or two-digit typing – rather than 10-digit touch typing.

To test the idea, we launched a Kickstarter campaign for prototype development. This gained thousands of supporters and led us to build and release the first version of the Typewise keyboard in 2019.

Can you introduce us to your smart keyboard? What are its key features?

Our honeycomb keyboard app is specifically designed for typing on smartphones and has won a CES Innovation Award, two years in a row.

Most people are still using the QWERTY layout on their phones which was designed almost 150 years ago, for ten-digit typing on mechanical typewriters. So clearly, it’s time for a rethink.

People type on their smartphones completely differently than on a large (and comparatively luxurious!) computer keyboard. Typewise keyboard app is perfectly optimized for one or two thumbs or finger typing, on the small screens of smartphones.

Our design results in 4x fewer typos, and faster, easier smartphone typing. The key features are:

  • Unique hexagonal keys, which are slightly larger and easier to hit than on QWERTY keyboards.
  • Intuitive gestures speed up typing – for example, you can delete characters by swiping left anywhere on the keyboard, and swiping right will instantly restore the deleted text.
  • Patented AI text prediction and autocorrection – which outperforms that of Apple and Google.
  • Multi-language detection – automatically identifies the language you are typing in and switches the dictionary to that language
  • Privacy by design all our tech happens on your device, and no typing data ever leaves your phone, unlike some other keyboards that transmit your keystrokes to the cloud

Why do you think people sometimes hesitate to try out new and innovative solutions that would enhance their daily lives?

When it comes to change, the learning curve is important. People are much more willing to stick with something new, if they see a benefit instantly, or at least pretty quickly.

One of the challenges we had with Typewise at first, is that although our keyboard is superior to other smartphone keyboards, it takes some time to adapt to it. After 2 million downloads – we’ve learned a lot and we’re about to launch version 4.0, which will – amongst several other new features – contain a new ‘fast-learn’ key layout and improved onboarding flow.

This will vastly shorten the time it takes to get comfortable with our honeycomb keyboard so new users will enjoy the benefits of faster, easier, private typing, much sooner.

How did the recent global events affect your field of work? Were there any new challenges you had to adapt to?

If you are referring to the coronavirus pandemic, then like many companies, it forced us to move to a 100% remote way of working.

That has ultimately been beneficial to us, as we were forced to broaden our search for new staff beyond the borders of Switzerland where we are headquartered. We have been able to recruit a top-quality team, mainly spread out over Europe, from the UK to Ukraine.

What would you consider the main issues with the keyboards available today?

We’re talking specifically about virtual keyboards used on smartphones; the main issue is, that the QWERTY keyboard is hugely outdated and was never designed for typing with two thumbs or fingers, on the small screens of smartphones.

So, most people are still using 150-year keyboard ‘technology’ that is only still here due to legacy reasons. If you were to design the optimal smartphone keyboard today – it would not be a QWERTY keyboard.

Recently, maintaining creativity has been a severe struggle for some organizations. How can companies foster creativity and innovation when the majority of employees are working remotely?

Keeping a team working well together in an era of remote working is certainly a challenge. We have found that it is harder to foster personal relationships and general team spirit when you are not seeing each other on a daily basis.

It takes deliberate effort to build and maintain such relations, as it is no longer happening naturally as it would in the office environment.

We have tackled it in a few ways:

  • Having weekly one-to-one coffee breaks, where a different pair of people chat each time.
  • Quarterly ‘offsite’ co-working get-togethers, where the entire team assembles for a week in a different city in Europe. Earlier this year we spent time in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and prior to that, in Belgrade, Serbia. We are currently planning a summer session, which will be somewhere on the Mediterranean coast.
  • We also encourage staff to get together at local hubs – for example, our office hubs in Zurich and Belgrade.
  • And we plan regular online all-hands meetings, along with quiz and game nights.

In this age of ever-evolving technology, what do you think are the key security practices both businesses and individuals should adopt?

Data privacy is the big one for us. The more private your data is – the lower the risk of your data being stolen or used for nefarious practices.

So – be aware of how much of your data is being shared with any company you interact with, and try to minimize the amount of data you allow to be shared.

Where do you expect to see AI-powered solutions be used more often in the near future?

AI is moving into many aspects of our lives. We predict that within five years, all text entry interfaces – whether that’s your smartphone, your laptop, or any other device – will use some form of AI text prediction writing assistant.

So, in the same way, that spellcheck is pretty much standard now, you’ll have an AI system helping you compose mistake-free emails, texts, and other messages, wherever you create them.

In terms of other AI areas – self-driving cars are perhaps one of the most impactful applications. We’re still not there yet, but it’s inevitable that at some point, AI will drive our cars rather than us.

Tell us, what’s next for Typewise?

It’s exciting times as we have just launched our AI writing assistant for businesses. Using the same underlying AI that powers our keyboard, we’ve built a new browser-based, multi-language solution, with predictive text, a customizable model that instantly learns the writing style of your team or company. Overall boosts the productivity of customer support teams by enabling faster replies and ensuring high-quality, consistent communications.

We’re also soon launching v4.0 of the Typewise keyboard app which comes with several new features including the fast-learn layout, 20 new beautiful themes, and emoji upgrade, and faster load times.

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