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Hands-On: Nuance Flex T9 Keyboard

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Jan 6, 2011, 5:13 AM   by Philip Berne

Check out the new gesture-based keyboard design from Nuance, the creators of the popular T9 and XT9 contextual typing assistants. The FlexT9ime keyboard also integrates support for Nuance's Dragon text-to-speech software, as well as handwriting recognition.

Nuance today sent us a copy of its new Flex T9 all-in-one keyboard with T9 Trace software for Android phones. The software is remarkably like Swype, another gesture-based keyboard. Both require users to trace a line from one letter to the next, rather than tapping on each letter individually. In fact, the two keyboard designs look remarkably similar, but that similarity is only skin deep.

Nuance's T9 Trace is based on the company's XT9 contextual typing technology, commonly found on feature phones and some other smartphones. Nuance says the XT9 base will help FlexT9ime to be more accurate, especially in context with word usage and subject matter.

In practice, gesture-based typing is still imperfect, but when it works well it can be more fun and faster than hunting and pecking for letters. It can also be easier to use on small smartphone screens.

Check out our hands-on look at Flex T9 and T9 Trace running on my Google Nexus S Android phone. In addition, I open up the Swype keyboard for a quick comparison.

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