As spectacular as today's smartphone technology is, there are some glaring user interface problems that no one has really been able to solve. Web browsing and multitasking are some of those issues—typing is another.
Typo believes it has a solution in its iPhone keyboard case. Interestingly, it's not an innovation so much as a rehashing of old technology—specifically, Blackberry technology.
The product is simple: It's a compact keyboard fixed to the base of an iPhone 5 or 5S with a shell case that extends over the rest of the phone. The keyboard covers the home button, but it's still accessible through a tiny key at the lower right of the keypad. It connects via Bluetooth, and completely replaces the software keyboard, conveniently freeing up some screen real estate.
As someone who's always owned an iPhone, I was skeptical of the Typo's utility. Over the years I've simply gotten used to the iPhone's (admittedly occasionally frustrating) touch typing, and didn't think a snap-on case could improve that much on a function so engrained in my daily habits.
Well, I was pleasantly surprised. Having never typed on a Blackberry device, I was quickly able to get a feel for the keys, and within a few short minutes I could discern a clear improvement in the speed and accuracy of my typing. Because Typo is the only game in town, and because it's a viable solution for a clear problem, we felt the Typo was a worthy CES Editor's Choice selection.
There are a few notable shortcomings, though. For one thing, the tiny home button ends up feeling a bit clunky when you use it a lot. And of course, you can't use the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5s. Finally, most quick-fingered iPhone users will only notice a mild increase in their typing speed.
There's also the price: If you feel quicker, more intuitive typing is worth $99, then you'll probably love this product when it's shipped this spring. If you're fine with the current pace of your iPhone typing, perhaps wait for a next-gen solution. And if you're an Android user, well, you're out of luck—this is iPhone only.
Ultimately, my typing was certainly faster. When it comes down to it, that's probably the most important part.