Okay, how many people have taken a while to get used to the soft keyboard on the iPhone? Show of hands? Okay, now put your hands down, you all look silly.
I admit, it has taken (and still is taking) me some time to get used to the soft keyboard. I came over to the iPhone from a Treo 680 (which was my first phone keypad) and I still find myself missing the hard keys with the tactile response. But they soft keypad isn't horrible, it just takes some time to get used to.
Enter the application Typing Genius. As you might guess, typing genius is a typing tutorial program. It is based on the same idea as "normal" typing tutor programs (for use with a normal keypad) - just converted to iPhone use.
When you start the program, you are taken to a screen where you can choose from excercises, statistics, frien challenge, and tips. I will take you through these options one at a time.
Excercises are simply the standard typing excercises to get used to the keypad. You can practice one hand at a time, both hands togethers, numbers, capital letters, punctuation, symbols, and even practice with words, all characters combined, sentences...well, you get the idea. When you choose one of the excercises, you can then choose to have the portrait mode, landscape mode, or turn autocorrection off (more on this later). You select your mode, then start the excercise. The goal is simple - simply type the letters (and spaces) that appear on the screen above the keyboard. When you make a mistake, you will see the error highlighted in red. I do not recommend going back and correcting mistakes - it will improve your accuracy, but really slow down your speed. Once you finish, you get a summary of how well you did - words per minute, accuracy, etc.
The statistics option lets you view your various statistical measures for each of the excercises. Unfortunately, there is no overall "average" statistics,, but for each of the excercises (and for each of the modes - portrait, landscape, etc) you can view your most recent test, your best results, and your average results.
The friend challenge presumably lets you compete against a friend in the same excercise. However, when I tried it, it really only let me do each excercise - there was never and option "now let your friend try". Since there is not a complete help screen, I was not able to figure out how to use the friend mode. I think they way it works is your friend tries to type, and his stats are recorded. You can then compare them to your own stats for the same excercise. I would have preferred to see a head to head challenge with the same words/excercises, but it would work okay as designed.
The tips screen gives you some hints and tips about typing on the iPhone. For example, did you know that when you are typing a word, the responsiveness for each key will vary depending on the word. If you are typing "iPhone" for example, when you type "iPhon" and are about to hit the "e" button, the area that will respond for the "e" is larger - giving you more "wiggle room" when typing. I didn't know that.
This program can really help you get up to speed with your typing skills on the iPhone. However, there were two main drawbacks when using this program. While the excercises are nice, there is no real tutorial process. I remember when learning to type, there were tutorials about how to place your fingers, which fingers you use for which keys, etc. Some quick tutorial like that (even if it is just a suggestion) would be beneficial - expecially for people that are self taught typers.
The biggest problem was with the autocorrect, though. If you choose any mode other than no autocorrect (and at times, you don't have a "no autocorrection" option) they typing tutor is almost worthless. As you are working on your excercises, the words are being correct as you type - which means that if you are practicing just typing letters or random gibberish, you are actually increasing your error rate as the gibberish is converted to a word. In addition, even if you choose no autocorrection for the excercise, you can't practice in the landscape mode (rotating the phone doesn't change it to landscape mode by itself). It seems to me that a better option would be to either have an overall toggle for autocorrect (on or off) or allow landscape mode to the entered simply by rotating the iPhone. Either way it would allow someone to practice in landscape mode without autocorrect, which is impossible right now. Given that autocorrect makes many of the various excercises useless, this is a major flaw in my opinion.
All in all, this is a good program is you want to practice your typing, but only if you don't want to practice in landscape mode with no autocorrection. Using this program, you can improve your iPhone typing skills - both for speed and accuracy. At $1.99, the price isn't bad, and if you text or type alot this program can be very beneficial. However, given the major design major flaw I can't give the program five stars. Four out of five stars.
[Typing Genius is available from the iTunes App Store]