A particular downside with the Android Market when compared to the iOS App Store when it comes to tablets is that it’s harder to find tablet-optimized apps. Apple designates between iPad and Phone/iPod touch optimized apps, along with offering apps that run explicitly in either mode. Google Play doesn’t have any kind of designation for an app that’s meant to be specifically optimized for a tablet.
That’s where Tablified Market can help. From the developer of Thumb Keyboard, this is an app with a curated list of apps that are meant to be run on tablet devices. Apps and games listed in a variety of categories are available to browse, and then purchase from Google Play. This even includes a special category of apps for root users. While the list of apps is curated, so presumably not every single tablet app is listed, it’s still a fantastic start for users looking for tablet apps. Tablified Market is available in a free ad-supported version, and a paid one with additional features, both from Google Play.
Thumbs are great; they’re what separate us from the animals. Thumbs, however, are not great for typing. There’s a reason why full size keyboards usually leave thumbs on the space bar, instead of actually typing out words and letters with them. However, mobile phones are all about thumb typing, and the default QWERTY keyboard layouts on phone keyboards are not very friendly to those large sticks of meat on the ends of our hands. Thumb Keyboard attempts to help this out by providing layouts that are more thumb-friendly, for both larger tablet devices where typing is often awkward, and even for traditional-sized phones.
Without having a tablet device to test (although I think the thumb layouts are theoretically great for tablet screens; typing on the iPad has always been an adventure, especially if it is not propped up somehow), I put Thumb Keyboard’s various layouts to the test on the Galaxy S. The primary thumb layouts are based on having larger keys, by expanding the height of the keyboard, and making two sets of keys, one on the top left of the keyboard with the left side of keys, and one on the bottom right with the right side of keys; the rest of the space is filled with arrow keys, punctuation, and numbers on some layouts.
The keyboard does actually seem to improve accuracy; the split thumb layout makes some of the keys larger, and prevents the thumbs from hitting each other while typing. It’s just a more natural layout, and the advantages are apparent as the keyboard is used. There are also plenty of customization and layout options available, so the keyboard experience is just what the user wants it to be, as long as the proper options are found and customized. There are a lot of options to discover, and it can be daunting at times, but this is far superior to having too few options! As well, there are several built-in themes and keyboard click sounds, including my personal favorite: typewriter sounds.
Thumb Keyboard is unfortunately a tradeoff; the large split layout is practically unusable as it shrinks many text boxes down to sizes where it is impossible to see beyond a single line, and it makes some text boxes invisible altogether. This is for slightly improved typing accuracy; I’m not quite sure this tradeoff is worth it, especially when it seems as if the keyboard has the tendency to lag as well. There are also weird glitches with typing and autocorrection where extra letters will occasionally pop up, and if going into the middle of the word to autocorrect it, the entire word will be placed where the cursor is, instead of the word being replaced. This may be fixed in a future version – the developer frequently updates the app.
While I still need some time to decide if Thumb Keyboard is my keyboard of choice between this and FlexT9, it is a solid alternative, and one that dares to try to mix things up in the Android keyboard market.