Couple of months ago, I had a meeting with the founder of Cliquick - a company that develops an innovative keyboard for cell-phones and smartphones and PocketPCs.
The idea behind Cliquick is optimizing the layout of the keys in order to reduce the number of clicks (when using a 12 keys layout in cell-phone). Over the time it evolved to become also a virtual keyboard for Windows Mobile with several layouts including couple of full QWERTY layouts.
At first I was very skeptic about the idea, as I am usually against virtual keyboards and always prefer devices with built-in QWERTY. But since it's a friend of a colleague - I gave it a try.
Surprisingly, the meeting was very interesting, it seems that Cliquick patented technology is indeed unique and the product is based on a serious research and a lot of users groups activities.
I downloaded it and used it for a while, and since I like both the idea and implementation - I decided to officially promote it here in my blog and in my SpoonTools site.
The application is designed elegantly. The installation is smooth, the configuration is rich but self explanatory, and above all - the keyboard is working extremely fast. Not trivial when talking about virtual keyboards.
There's a lot of different layouts (3 per each mode - landscape and portrait) which makes the keyboard highly configurable.
All the layouts are completely finger friendly and integrate well with WinMo's auto-completion.
Each button has an additional number or special character which is assigned when the key held down. I really wish I had that feature in my iPhone or my Blackberry - it really saves time.
The most innovative idea Cliquick brings is around typing in portrait mode. I personally find it very hard to use a full QWERTY layout when using a portrait mode. My finger is just too thick. (This is one of the things I found impossible in the Touch Diamond).
Cliquick brings another approach to the table. Instead of trying to squeeze the complete QWERTY, Cliquick has only 12 keyboard buttons, hosting letters and frequently used signs (such as @, period, etc.). More clicks when typing but more finger friendliness.
What's the big different with other cell-phones keyboards you ask?
Here's the answer: below is a traditional numeric layout of a cell-phone keypad: notice that out of 12 buttons, only 8 holds the letters? hmmm, makes you wonder why they did it like that, isn't it?
(Well, maybe it's because no one was texting 100 years ago )
The Cliquick keyboard makes a much better usage of the keyboard using all 12 keys with an optimal way. Every button starts with a frequently used letter, which minimize back the number of clicks and increases the speed. According to Cliquick, 70% of the characters require a single tap to enter.
The portrait mode comes with 3 different skins which effect the size of the keyboard:
I still think that portrait mode is not enough, and even if it becomes finger friendly, I still prefer landscape typing.
One of the things I like about Cliquick is that it is well adjusted to the new devices. It has a built-in landscape mode (switches automatically) which can compete easily with any other virtual keyboard applications for Windows Mobile.
According to Cliquick: "the reason why the keyboard is better adjusted to finger size is that most other full QWERTY keyboards assign 11 keys in each line while Cliquick assigns only 9 (concentrating on the keys you really need), Cliquick keys are ~25% wider that comparable landscape keyboards – which is a big difference".
Here, as well, there are 3 options, each with its' own advantage: Keyboard, Keyboard classic and keyboard comfort.
As said before, holding down the key can also be configured to do something. I set it to write a number or a symbol which seemed like the best option.
Support for 100 Languages:
Cliquick recently released a new version (2.12.01) of the product with a complete support for over 100 languages.
Here's the impressive list of supported languages:
English, Cyrillic, Hebrew, French, German, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Afrikaans, Byelorussia, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Irish, Italian, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Pinyin, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Turkmen, Uzbek, Vietnamese, Walloon, Welsh.
I must say that it takes a while (for a QWERTY fan like me) to get used to the new portrait layout, I kept finding myself getting back to the landscape mode where the full QWERTY makes me feel more comfortable, but after a while you really get used to it. After further use they can reach "100% faster typing than the standard phone-pad".
According to Cliquick trials it takes up to 10 sentences of texting until users start typing faster than texting on a phone-pad, and within an hour of texting they already text 50% faster. After further use they can reach "100% faster typing than the standard phone-pad".
We were in a Mobile Monday event when 5 of us (geeks) made a small contest to see which phone gives the fastest typing. I used a full physical QWERTY keyboard and won , but the second best result was done using Cliquick with a significant advantage over the others.
If you own a WinMo device with a built in full keyboard you don't need Cliquick. But if you are using a device without a full QWERTY, you probably find typing and texting a bit challenging.
Cliquick is an interesting alternative to the standard virtual keyboards but make sure to try it out first.
Another good thing about Cliquick is that it comes with 2 months trial period - enough time to get used to it and really feel the benefits of it.
How to download:
Cliquick is not free but you may use it with unlimited number of characters input for 60 days. After this period the application would continue working in its full functionality but would be limited by the number of characters per day.
The complete version can be purchased for 9.95$.