A screen as small as an Apple Watch is not designed for written interactions. That didn’t stop rival manufacturers, like Will.i.am and his Dial smartcuff from including a tiny QWERTY onscreen, for instance. But it was hard to type accurately on such a small set of letters.
So, the recent release of FlickType, a free Apple Watch app, a few months ago, added considerable versatility to the Watch. There’s now an SDK so developers can add it to their Watch apps easily.
Sure, you can already reply to text messages on your Apple Watch using your voice, or built-in messages. You can even scribble on the screen in a way that’s quite fun and pretty accurate.
But FlickType provides an extra way to respond that is simple, enjoyable and highly effective.
The QWERTY itself is pretty small, though it takes up half the Watch’s display. But the predictive word smarts make everything happen. Tap on the relevant letters with your finger, with a casualness that might surprise you, and by the time you’ve reached the end of the word, FlickType will have guessed the word you’re after.
To delete a letter, you swipe left and to insert a space, you swipe right. Swipe right again and it’ll insert a period, a space and a capital letter for the next word.
It does it so accurately and so often that it kind of makes you feel we’re all completely predictable.
But there are some words made up of the same number of nearly adjacent letters and, in that case, it might get the wrong one, like won’t and don’t, for instance.
Type one but you meant the other? Just swipe down on the screen to get to the next option. The same applies when it comes to punctuation. The first item of punctuation to appear is the period, but flicking your finger downwards offers other punctuation options, such as question mark. I mean, obviously, they’re all there, including the hardly-used semi-colon, though not the splendid interrobang.
You can add emoji, too and numbers, even words not in its dictionary. It’s amazingly simple to use but manages considerable sophistication and advanced capabilities.
Of course, it’s designed to be used one-handed. Because your other hand is out of reach thanks to the Watch round its wrist.
The public SDK that has arrived means developers can integrate it with their applications so it will have a value beyond the Apple Messages app, for instance, where it’s invoked by a double-press on the Digital Crown when you’re in Scribble mode.
It’s already available for Chirp for Twitter, Nano for Reddit, WristBook for FaceBook, among others. As more developers decide it’s useful, expect it to appear in lots more, so that messaging is easier and note-taking finally a real possibility.
I mean, it’s still not going to encourage you to write the great novel currently inside you, but it’s a cool way of tapping in a message when you’ve left your iPhone at home, for instance.