Have dermatitis and can’t use touchscreens? Use the Google Gboard

I know that swimming prevents my migraines, I know that false nails help with my dermatitis, as they minimise the water traveling underneath the nails, but I have yet to find a keyboard that rivals the BlackBerry for speed and accuracy. Until now.

Being a writer and a serial BlackBerry user for many years I have, unknowingly, been spoilt. Suffering with long-term dermatitis, meant that the mainstream integration of touchscreens, was going to impact my work greatly. We all know that BlackBerry (and the hard keyboard), has seen its day according to society, but what about those who cannot use touchscreens, even without the hinderance of dermatitis?

Countless times people have said to me; “you’ll just get used to touchscreens.” Well I (and my fingers), have proved them wrong on a number of occasions. In fact, many times I was prepared to throw my phone under moving traffic in anger and/or frustration, because I found my productivity decline.

For those who prefer statistics, please see the following:

  • Sending a one lined email with a BlackBerry = under one minute;
  • Sending the same email using an iPhone and touchscreen = six minutes on average.

At the time of the above analysis, I was receiving, on average, 80 emails per hour, so the extra five minutes (roughly), was putting me back considerably.

I was asked why I didn’t use voice recognition software, and this was simply down to confidentiality reasons. I can’t just start talking about the information I am privy to out loud.

I am now at a stage where I cannot feel anything in at least three fingers. I have been to several doctors over the years, none of which have referred me to a dermatologist, so the condition is severe, to the point where on some days the skin looks burnt.

The technological answer however, is the Google Gboard. But before I describe this, in my mind, miracle app, I will also mention that I have been using the Samsung clip on keyboard for the last year or so on my Galaxy S7 edge. 

Samsung clip-on keyboard

The advantages of this add-on piece is that you have the flexibility of it being a clip-on so you can remove it any time. It also works in the same way as the Blackberry hard keyboard. The only downside is that the keys do not have a backlight, so if you get up in the middle of the night and want to input your password in the dark, you have to guess where the keys are. 

Gboard is a virtual keyboard app developed by Google for Android and iOS devices. It was first released on both systems in 2016.

Google Gboard

Gboard features Google Search (including web results and predictive answers), searching and sharing of GIF and emoji content, predictive typing suggesting the next word depending on context, and multilingual language support.

It does take a little getting used to, but it is amazing how it is able to keep up with my typing speed, and the rate my mind works. It is triggered by dragging a finger across the letters to spell out the word. If you slide over the right number of letters in sequence, it will predict either the word you are looking for, or a selection of near-to words. There is no need to add a space after each word, as soon as you pause it knows to add the space.

So far, I have noticed an increase in productivity, there is no additional pain or discomfort using the tool, and overall it is actually quite fun.

One thing though, it can be quite distracting when you are on the train in the middle of your morning commute, and you feel eyes looking over your shoulder at what you are doing. This does bring me back to the confidentiality issues, but this can be easily rectified by adding a privacy screen to your device. Also, there is the reassurance that people get bored easily nowadays.

PS: Another handy device is the foldable Bluetooth keyboard. An example of which can be found below:

Dermatitis at its best, or worst!

*An excerpt of this post may be contained on the blog for SOCLI with permission

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *