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This keyboard for your phone recalls the glory days of T9 texting

By Leo Mirani
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

It’s easy to confuse Tio for T10. Tio means “ten” in Swedish (for the number of keys on its keyboard), but it could just as well be T10, the sequel to the much-loved T9 dictionary that simplified texting on older, unsmart phones.

Tio combines the best of Swiftkey, which predicts your next word; Swype, which allows users to input text in smooth, sweeping motions; and the T9 dictionary, which guessed the likeliest words to come from a sequence of numbers tapped on an alpha-numeric keypad. Instead of having to touch every letter on a smartphone screen to make a word, Tio groups letters into threes (as on old phones where the only buttons were numbers). Users just need to make a sweeping motion along a divided line, which corresponds to the sets of letters.

Another version of the keyboard replaces the line-drawing input mechanism with bunched keys, which promises faster typing for those unaccustomed to swiping. Since the algorithms have a much smaller set of options to work with—each entry corresponds to one of only three letters—the predictions claim to be faster and more accurate.

Tio’s keyboard is available for Android, but what is more interesting are the potential future uses: Tio could make inputting text on smaller screens, such as watches, easier as it does away with the need for full size keyboards. And its “squiggle” version could be a good way to input text through gesture-based systems, such as the console on connected cars.

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