iPohen Kyeobard Erorr Raets: Esaily Duobel

A study has been performed about the error rates of mobile keyboards. The three keyboards picked were the iPhone virtual software keyboard, QWERTY keyboards (like those on BlackBerries and Treos), and T9 numeric keypads. iPhone users erred at a rate of 5.6 errors per message, T9 users erred at a rate of 2.6 errors per message, and QWERTY users erred at a rate of 2.1 errors per message. The test was done with 20 folks in each group, and the iPhone owners had to have used their device for at least a month to qualify as eligible.

There are some doozies in the press release:

While the iPhone's corrective text feature helps, this data suggests that iPhone users who have owned the device for a month still make about the same number of errors as the day they got it," said Gavin Lew, Managing Director.

Compared to hard-key QWERTY devices, the iPhone may fall short for consumers who use on their mobile device heavily for email and text messaging. The iPhone was clearly associated with higher text entry error rates than a hard-key QWERTY phone. The finding that iPhone owners made more texting errors on iPhones than their hard-key QWERTY counterparts (on their own QWERTY phones) suggests that the iPhone may have a higher fundamental error rate. Specifically, the high rate of false alarms for iPhone keys adjacent to high frequency letters is troubling. The iPhone’s predictive and corrective text features do alleviate some of the errors users make while texting, but it does not catch them all.

"iPhone is a great switch from a numeric phone. But if you're switching from a hard-key QWERTY phone, try the iPhone in the store first."

I'm not sure I agree with him on that last bit. The rate difference from QWERTY to T9 vs. the error rate on the iPhone is basically insignificant. What's another .5 errors per message amongst friends when you're talking about an average of 5+ EPM anyway? But what's most interesting to me is that software and hardware keyboards were just as fast. It's just that software keyboards are prone to more errors.

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Reader comments

iPohen Kyeobard Erorr Raets: Esaily Duobel

5 Comments

hunh - I find these results difficult to believe. My own experience is that QWERTY is *significantly* better than T9, but maybe that's just because it's faster. I also found myself getting more proficient with time on the iPhone - it seems very odd that people are having the same error rate after a month as they did on day 1.
Nice headline, btw - reminds me of that email forward that pops up from time to time showing hwo yuo dno't nede wrods to be sepleld aynwehre naer croectly in odrer to be udnersotod.

Coming from the QWERTY keyboard on a Treo, I actually prefer typing on the iPhone. I'm actually much faster on iPhone than my Treo, and the software keyboard requiring merely a touch is less fatiguing over time.

I too have a hard time believing the stats. I was never bad at T9, but I was much slower. As for the iPhone, I make more errors than I did with my Treo 650, i rarely made mistakes on that device, but I'm definitely making far fewer on the iPhone than when I first got it. Also, the iPhone keyboard is much faster for me than anything else i've used. I'd bet that for the average message I could type it out and correct any errors faster on an iphone than i could just type it out on my 650.

Havent purchased an iPhone but did practice every time i'd pass a store and was astonished at the improvement over time, would not be surprised if musicians and similar professions where digital accuracy is key (no pun intended) will do better. Helps to be a typist but the new art is accuracy without hardkey feedback.

I've read that the iphone keyboard is a lot easier on folks with RMI injuries and the like, since there's no need for force with the iphone keyboard.