‘Typ­ing Gap’ Is Clos­ing As Peo­ple Be­come Less Skilled At Work­ing On Key­boards & Bet­ter At Us­ing Mo­bile De­vices

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Trends -

Lon­don: In some good news for those who want smart­phones to be­come their type­writ­ers, the typ­ing speeds on mo­bile hand­sets are now catch­ing up with phys­i­cal key­boards, thanks to mil­len­ni­als.

A study of over 37,000 users found that the “typ­ing gap” — the dif­fer­ence in typ­ing speeds be­tween mo­bile de­vices and phys­i­cal key­boards — is de­creas­ing and 10-19-year olds can type about 10 wordsper-minute faster than their par­ents’ gen­er­a­tion.

Re­searchers from Aalto Uni­ver­sity (Fin­land), Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge and ETH Zurich an­a­lysed the typ­ing speed of tens of thou­sands of users on both phones and com­put­ers.

If you want to type faster on mo­bile, the re­searchers rec­om­mend us­ing two thumbs and en­abling au­to­cor­rec­tion of words.

“We were amazed to see that users typ­ing with two thumbs achieved 38 words per minute (wpm) on av­er­age, which is only about 25% slower than the typ­ing speeds we ob­served in a sim­i­lar large-scale study of phys­i­cal key­boards,” said Anna Feit, a re­searcher at ETH Zurich and one of the co-au­thors.

While one can type much faster on a phys­i­cal key­board, up to 100 wpm, the pro­por­tion of peo­ple who ac­tu­ally reach that is de­creas­ing. Most peo­ple achieve be­tween 35-65 wpm.

The au­thors pre­dict that as peo­ple get less skilled with phys­i­cal key­boards, and smart meth­ods for key­boards im­prove fur­ther (such as auto-cor­rec­tion and touch mod­els), the gap may be closed at some point. The fastest speed the re­searchers saw on a touch­screen was a user who man­aged the re­mark­able speed of 85 words per minute.

To reach this con­clu­sion, the re­search team col­lected a dataset from over 37,000 vol­un­teers in an on­line typ­ing test. They recorded the key­strokes the par­tic­i­pants made while tran­scrib­ing a set of given sen­tences to as­sess their typ­ing speed, er­rors and other fac­tors re­lated to their typ­ing be­hav­iour on mo­bile de­vices.

While the ma­jor­ity of vol­un­teers were women in their early twen­ties, the dataset in­cludes peo­ple from all ages and from over 160 coun­tries.

On av­er­age, the par­tic­i­pants re­ported spend­ing about 6 hours per day on their mo­bile de­vice. “Such large amount of ex­pe­ri­ence trans­fers to the devel­op­ment of typ­ing skill and ex­plains why young peo­ple, who spend more time with so­cial me­dia, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each other, are pick­ing up higher speeds,” ex­plained Feit.

The best pre­dic­tor of per­for­mance is whether you use one fin­ger or two thumbs to type. The study also found that en­abling the auto-cor­rect of words of­fers a clear ben­e­fit, whereas word pre­dic­tion, or man­u­ally choos­ing word sugges­tions, does not.

Getty Im­ages/iStockphot­o

THE THUMB RULE: If you want to type faster on mo­bile, the re­searchers rec­om­mend us­ing two thumbs and en­abling auto-cor­rec­tion of words

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