‘Typing Gap’ Is Closing As People Become Less Skilled At Working On Keyboards & Better At Using Mobile Devices
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.
THE THUMB RULE: If you want to type faster on mobile, the researchers recommend using two thumbs and enabling auto-correction of words