Bye Bye Auto-Correct: Better Ways to Type on Tiny Screens

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Man’s hands weren’t designed to type on a tiny screen. Just compare the size of your fingertip to the miniscule letters we’re expected to tap to answer texts and emails. “Hi” ends up as “Go”; “Thanks!” as “Rjsmka!” But that doesn’t mean we can skip replying to messages or searching for random tidbits of info while we’re away from our computers. We just have to find better ways to type on a tiny screen. For those of us with thicker digits, there are a few ways to overcome our handicap.

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Up Your Screen Size
The simplest (though most expensive) option is to get a bigger smartphone. The increased screen space of phablets translates into more room for your fingers. For Android users, the $450 Google Nexus 6P features a 5.7-inch screen — that’s half an inch more real estate than the Nexus 5X; Apple’s $750 iPhone 6s Plus has a 5.5-inch screen versus the 4.7-inch screen of the 6s. In addition to getting bigger keys, you get the added bonus of supercharged phone performance: Phablets tend to have more horsepower than regular-sized phones.

Install a Different Keyboard
If you can’t change your hardware, you can change the way your existing phone’s keyboard works. Both Android and iOS let you install third-party keyboards. First you need to find a keyboard you like, and there are plenty to choose from. Fleksy includes an option for larger keys — the keyboard takes up more of your screen, but it also makes it easier to hit the right letter. SwiftKey doesn’t have bigger letters, but it does have better autocorrect, so your mistakes don’t matter as much. To add a keyboard, first download the app and then install it as a keyboard option. In iOS, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards. In Android, look under Settings > Language and Inputs to choose a different keyboard.

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Add an External Keyboard
If you miss the tactile feel of keys beneath your fingers, you can opt for a real keyboard. If you want an integrated keyboard, going old school is your best bet: BlackBerry still produces models with physical keyboards. The $699 Priv runs Android and features a slide-out keyboard. If you want to keep your existing phone, external keyboard cases replicate the slide-out keyboard of BlackBerries and connect to your phone via Bluetooth, but few do a great job of it. A better option may be a foldable Bluetooth keyboard that you can stash away and bring out when you need to do some serious typing. The $70 ZAGG Pocket Keyboard works for two years on a full charge, so you won’t have to worry about it running out of power.

Say It
Maybe fingers and smartphones just weren’t meant to work together. That’s why Apple and Google have spent so much effort improving voice-to-text. If you haven’t tried dictating your message recently, give it another shot — you’ll likely be surprised at how well it works. At the very least it will be as accurate as your typo-filled attempts at typing.

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