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Microsoft releases prototype on-screen keyboard for Android Wear

Those familiar with the likes of Nokia’s Z Launcher will appreciate the new input method for Android Wear, straight out of the Microsoft Research Labs no less.

If you’re one of the early adopters of Google’s Android Wear, and have picked up Motorola’s Moto 360 or LG’s G Watch, then you’ll likely be pleased to know that Microsoft is continuing to throw its developmental muscle behind wearables, and smartwatches in particular, by releasing a keyboard which enables users to send messages by scrawling on the face of their new intelligent timepiece.

The prototype keyboard, dubbed the ‘analogue keyboard’, which is compatible with devices using a 320×320 resolution screen, is great news for users who might want to communicate on the sly. At present, the main input method for the Android Wear devices is via speech-to-text using the inbuilt microphone. Whilst this may be useful in some circumstances, we’re certain that students in lectures or drivers waiting at lights would be grateful for a more covert or snappier interaction such as this.

Although Android hasn’t created a proprietary keyboard for its own devices, and other companies, such as Minuum, have created software which hasn’t been very well received, Microsoft has obviously identified a gap in the market for alternative input methods and is clearly keen on getting its software on people’s smartwatches.

As far as we can see, voice input is still the safest and most practical method of input for these types of devices – let’s face is, drawing on a screen is only a hop, skip and a jump from typing on a full-sized smartphone keyboard, but it can’t hurt to have additional control options and we’ll be curious to see if Google steps up to the plate matches Microsoft’s input in the near future. 

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