TouchPal – Jack of all trades
Jack of all trades, master of none. Keyboard for you? Let's see.
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Once upon a time, in the olden days, when the dark ages of keyboard is upon us, only the rich and powerful is given the privilege to get the best and cutting-edge keyboard. For others, the not so privileged one, we must be content with our keyboard if we can’t afford to pay. Until God smiles upon us and bestows TouchPal.
Yes, the story may sound like a bad fanfiction, but my points still stand. It’s almost impossible to get a good keyboard without effort and forking money. Until TouchPal come with its freemium model, in which most of the features are free except if user need to get more advanced functions. Google keyboard and SwiftKey follow after, but TouchPal is the pioneer of free keyboard.
But free alone is good for low entry barrier, does TouchPal have what it got for users to keep it in their phone and using it as their main keyboard? Let’s see.
First impression and Overlook
Open up TouchPal and you will see a simple interface looking back at you. It is definitely worth tweaking the settings for few minutes to get layout and feel you want.
You can definitely make it look busy enough that you want to claw your eyes out while typing because so many animations working at once, but I prefer to turn off all so I can concentrate on typing the fastest way.
Thankfully, TouchPal has enough unique themes that are completely different from its default reserved look to give it fresh interface.
Interestingly, even when there is just so many 3rd party keyboards available for Android, almost all of them has their own unique features that can’t be found elsewhere. TouchPal itself has quite a few tricks up to its sleeve.
One of my favorite feature is gesture. Swipe up at the top part of keyboard and you can input numbers easily. Swipe down at the lower part of character and you get most often used symbol. It is easy and well integrated, making dedicated number row on top is redundant.
This is its biggest selling point as there is no other keyboard that provide such useful features. Long press to input number and symbol works in other keyboard, but not as easy to use and intuitive as TouchPal gesture.
TouchPal also has a useful top bar, in which user can easily access settings, keyboard layout, and interface to useful cut and paste. It also had baffling option to easily post Twitter status.
Correction and Prediction
Now, here is the total spoiler : TouchPal is not the best in both Swype like typing or normal tap typing. No, both title has been taken by Swype and SwiftKey, respectively.
But despite of that, TouchPal has great accuracy for both style of typing. You don’t need to choose which way of typing you prefer because although it’s not the best, it has good accuracy and prediction which is above the average.
TouchPal covers a lot of language as well. In normal typing, it allowed of mixed language input, which allowed users to type in bilingual without having to change the language preference.
The fact it is made by Chinese may turn some of you off (you racist! ) but it is an advantage for the keyboard because it means great Chinese typing support, with Chinese is one of the most used language in the world.
As my title stated (such a spoiler right? ) TouchPal is jack of all trades, master of none. While this phrase often bring negative connotation along, it is not actually the case with TouchPal. It has lots of feature, and while not the best in each of the features, it does a pretty decent job of almost everything.
The fact that it is a jack of all trades means it is the ultimate alternative keyboard. If anyone somehow not happy with his keyboard, the first words I say or type will be: Has you taken a look at TouchPal?, much like a telemarketer.
In one sentence, it is the Swiss army knife of keyboard.
Decent prediction and correction
Great symbol gesture input
Support many languages
Great Chinese input support
Not really best in anything
The bilingual typing doesn't include gesture typing
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