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8pen is a painful way to enter text on Android devices

8penText entry on a small screen is a formidable problem; as can be expected, there are a ton of competing solutions, with Swype (and Swype-like keyboards, such as SlideIT) getting a lot of attention.

8pen takes a completely different tack to the keyboard problem, by eliminating it altogether. To paraphrase Bob Marley, "no keyboard, no cry." According to 8pen, by drawing "natural" gestures on your touchscreen, you'd be able to "write without viewing".

The idea is to give you a central graffiti-like area with a grid of characters. All gestures originate from the central area and terminate there, too. To type the letter "e", for example, you have to start at the center, swipe down, hang a left (crossing the green line) and go back to the center area. To type "l" (a lowercase L), you have to do the same, but continue one quadrant further, returning to the center dot from the top quadrant, having crossed both the green and blue lines.

If this sounds insanely complex, you're right. I'm no stranger to alternative keyboard layouts, and I know full well that switching input methods takes some getting used to. But compared to SlideIT, 8pen is downright painful. And yes, I will review SlideIT soon.

Still, if you're curious and/or masochistic, I've put up a QR code for 8pen after the jump. Enjoy! (I guess...)

Tags: 8pen, android, input, keyboard, productivity, typing