Ever since I got my greedy little mitts on the Archos 70 IT I've rediscovered Swype. Slide keyboards are made for tablets, IMO, but I prefer a more "conventional" keyboard for T9 for my Nexus; I'm too much of a butterfingers to trace on 3.7“. Theoretically, Swype can also be used a a normal keyboard, but it doesn't work all that well; Swype's specialty is swiping, after all.
Seeing as I want to use one and the same keyboard on both devices without constantly having to change back and forth I decided to check out Ultra Keyboard. I become aware of this app thanks to some comments made on a Swype blog post which made Ultra Keyboard sound like the ultimate all-in-one keyboard. Read on in order to find out if that really is the case.
Features & Use
Test device: Nexus One/Archos 70 IT
Android Version: 2.2/Android 2.1
Root: Yes (LeoFroyo)/No
Modifications made (change in CPU, etc.): None.
Usable as of: Android 1.5 5
Authentication process required: Hardware-control elements, your personal details, internet access, memory
As far is this section (i.e. Features & Use) goes let me start by listing the things Ultra Keyboard doesn't provide, because the list is fairly short: it doesn't have a T9/phone keyboard. Aside from this all i can offer is a selection of Ultra Keyboard's features, seeing as there are so many to choose from.
The app boasts a Full Keyboard and a Compact Keyboard and you can select QWERTY, QWERTZ, AZERTY, and ALPHA layouts for either one. There are English, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, and German dictionaries. Ultra Keyboard can also be used as a “slide keyboard” which means you can basically wipe words with your finger, a feature commonly known as “tracing” which not all of you will have heard of and are thus likely to overlook it.
The app also offers speech-to-text feature which basically allows you to speak the text as well as an integrated translation tool.
All these features can be accessed via the Tool Bar located above the keyboard. You can set this tool bar up according to your preferences: switch options on/off, change the features sequence, etc. The Tool bar provides the following options:
The Keyboard option allows you to switch the Tracing function on or off, as well as alter the layout (QWERTY, QWERTZ, etc.), adjust the size of the keys, pick an animation which pops up which you open and close the keyboard, and more.
Dictionary lets you switch languages, turn off the dictionary function or download new ones, plus several other options.
As you can tell you will need to take a moment in order to make yourself familiar with all the options provided by Ultra Keyboard in order to make the most out of the app—but it's worth it. The most important options and settings are to be found under the aforementioned categories, however (Keyboard & Dictionary).
You can use the Tool Bar to highlight texts and cut and paste the passages you're interested in. You can also use cursor buttons to help you navigate texts.
Settings can also be accessed via the Tool Bar, and, again, there are lots of options and settings-options available here:
Sound & Feedback
You can use Gestures to close the keyboard or to switch dictionaries, for e.g. Ultra Keyboard also comes with a few different themes, and if these aren't enough you can download more from the Market.
Not only does Ultra Keyboard offer a multitude of options, the keyboard works really well, too: both the normal and slide keyboards (tracing) for T9 (dictionaries) work like a charm.
Ultra Keyboard's developers have really gone all out and ram packed the app full of useful features and options. I've been using the application on a Nexus One and Archos 70 since a few days now and predict I will be for a while yet. So why are we „only“ dolling out a four star rating? Because the app is missing a T9 /phone keyboard... Not that I'm desperately missing this feature, but the app would need it in order to reach five stars.
Screen & Controls
As per usual when it comes to keyboards Ultra Keyboard has to be activated under Settings/Language & Keyboard, then press for a while in the text entry field.
I'm guessing no one needs a step-by-step explanation on how to use a keyboard, but it might be useful to know that the Tracing option can be found under keyboard settings in the tool bar.
Not all options can be displayed within the Portrait Mode, but you can wipe the Tool Bar away in order to see all of them.
The Tool Bar is a pretty neat thing. You can set it up according to your preferences and can use it to access all of the most important options.
Speed & Stability
Again—nothing to wine about: Ultra Keyboard runs very smoothly on both the Nexus One and on the Archos 70.
Ultra Keyboard can be purchased for US$ 2,79 in the Android Market. A trial version is also available.