We’ve come a long way since our early descendants scribbled some crude animal drawings on their cave walls over 30,000 years ago.
What would these inhabitants of the Stone Age have made of a quill, or a ballpoint pen? A typewriter, surely, would have frazzled their primitive minds.
However, for many of us, the pen and pencil have become anachronistic tools as well. I can’t remember the last time I needed a pencil, and the pen has become an implement of last resort.
Most often, of course, I am typing on my computer and increasingly my smartphone. Even for jotting down reminders and shopping lists, I use a simple Notes app. It is more convenient than pen and paper and I know I won’t lose it.
Even as the mobile phone becomes the dominant device for how we capture, store and pass on information, another battle is raging about the way we are doing it.
So, it’s time declare your loyalties in the war of the input methods.
What does the following sequence of digits mean to you? 4, 3, 5, 5 and 6.
If you have a number keypad on your phone, then you’ve probably noticed that it spells out ‘hello’ in predictive text.
Mastering predictive text (aka T-9) should be a rite of passage for every young (or old!) person getting to grips with their first mobile phone.
Once you’ve got it figured out, it becomes second nature and long messages can flow from your fingertips with astonishing speed.
You cannot deny the simple elegance and functionality of a number keypad.
Despite the brilliance of predictive text, the Qwerty keyboard is the input method that we are most familiar with.
Their appearance on our mobile phones heralded the age when they suddenly become an extension of our computers.
Much like the number keypads, there is the satisfying haptic feedback you get from using a keyboard with proper buttons. Somehow, it still feels like a mechanical process.
Plus, I would hazard a guess that you are less likely to make as many typing mistakes with a Qwerty keyboard than on a touchscreen device.
The touchscreen is fantastic for looking at photos, browsing the web and watching video, but is it really that good for typing?
Yes, touchscreen phones use a digital Qwerty keyboard as well but it is still a very different experience from pressing real buttons.
How often have you tapped the wrong letter? How frustrating is it when you are trying to type on a bumpy bus or car journey?
Despite the drawbacks though, touchscreens are very much in the ascendancy. Is it a case of their advantages outweighing the disadvantages?
Currently, with the best will in the world, getting a device to obey voice commands can still be a hit and miss affair. We are still a long way off from a mobile phone passing the Turing test.
Plus, there is still the embarrassment factor, especially in public, of talking to an inanimate object. All that said, hands free communication has clear benefits and there are situations, such as driving, when it is a necessity.
Voice is perhaps an input method that will become more and more important in the future, especially as the technology gets more advanced.
Take a look at this post about how you can use simple voice commands on your Nokia Lumia smartphone.
Don’t forget to vote in our poll and let us know which one you prefer.
image credit: DavidRGilson
Updated October 1, 2015 1:02 pm