Android is a versatile OS that lets you hack and tweak your phone in many ways. One of the more useful changes you could make is replace the virtual keyboard with one that suits your typing better.
There are many keyboard replacements available on the android market, but if you happen to own a tablet as well, the Thumb keyboard stands out, as it offers a number of different layout options, that makes typing on a tablet a lot easier with just your thumbs.
The problem with tablets is that the dimensions are too wide to comfortable type with your thumbs only. So most tablet owners tend to hold the tablet with one hand, and type with one finger on the other hand. While this may be suitable for small text entry tasks such as filing in search boxes, it soon gets tiring when typing out long documents.
Thumb keyboard is aptly named, because the tablet modes are designed so that the thumbs on both hands are used to type on the keyboard, the remaining fingers used to hold the tablet from behind. While this a natural way to hold the tablet, especially in landscape mode, the problem is the that center keys are just too far to reach for average sized hands.
Thumb keyboard solves this by offering a number of keyboard layout options. It also recognizes that typing in landscape mode is different to typing in portrait mode, since the physical width of the keyboard changes. So it is possible to set a different layout for landscape and portrait modes.
The layouts on offer, are split into portrait and landscape
There are 6 layout options for holding the phone in the portrait position, split into phone and tablets.
Phone: Standard Layout
There just in case you prefer the standard layout for this orientation.
Phone: Split – Large and Compact Layouts
These are great for phones as they effectively increase the size of the buttons, as the keyboard is split into two chucks and stacked on top of each other, making the horizontal width larger.
By splitting the keyboard in such a way, the letter keys can become bigger, and also leave room for some common symbols on the same keyboard, The large mode being suitable for long high res big screen phones like the Galaxy Nexus, and the smaller compact mode suitable for mid range screens of 4-4.3 inches. While this is great for typing fast, the keyboard does occupy a lot of space, so it is best suited to the larger phones, as they are ones you are most likely to comfortably hold with two hands.
To portrait mode for tablets takes into account the wider width. The 7 inch layout 1 uses the extra space to repeat keys g and v.
Tablet 7 inch Layout 2
The second layout could have easily be renamed tablet split layout, as it resembles the phone split layout, thought there are some extra symbols.
Tablet 10 inch Layout
The 10 inch tablet layout places the numeric keys in the middle area, rather than forcing you to switch the keys to numeric mode as in other layouts.
As per portrait layouts, the Thumb keyboard offers layouts suitable for phones as well as tablets. The phone layouts would be suitable for phones around the 4 inch and above, especially the big screen phone that stretch to 4.7 inches, ala HTC One X.
Phone: Split Large Layout
The keyboard is split into two, which a blank scape in the middle. Allowing for fairly large letters at each side of the display. You should be able to reach the middle keys without having to stretch your thumbs.
Phone: Split Compact Layout
Aimed at the slightly wider phones, where there is more space in the center, the compact phone split layout places the arrows keys there.
Phone/Tablet 5 inch Layout
Though the Dell streak 5 inch tablet is no longer in production, and the 7 inch tablets are the norm, the 5 inch layout is probably ideal for a phone like the Galaxy Note’s 5.3 inch screen, conveniently offering the numeric keys are the center of the display.
Tablet 7 inch Layout
This is similar to the 5 inch display with the extra space used up by cursor and some symbol keys.
Tablet 10 inch Layout
The 10 inch tablet layout follows the same theme as the other tablet layout, with letter keys on the edges, and symbol, numeric keys in the center.
The tablet layouts make typing on a tablet very quick and comfortable, as each letter is within easy reach of the thumbs.
On top of these layout options there are plethora of options that let you tweak the layout to exactly match your typing style. For example, these include changing the overall height of the keyboard, making the spacer row bigger or smaller than the letter rows. Thus making the Thumb suitable for almost everyone, and is highly recommended if you type for long periods on your tablet.
See the video below, for the Thumb keyboard in action.