Note 4 Roadtrip: The Tricks Of Typing

On a basic level, I type for a living. I type stories and edit other people’s stories and type emails and type interview notes and type proposals and reports and tweets. And all this week I am doing that without an actual physical keyboard, with the Note 4So what works well and what still needs work?

I noted (ahem) earlier in the week that I was using voice recognition to deal with my daily novel-writing activities. That works well for raw text, but for my day-to-day tasks I need a higher level of accuracy. Fixing capitalisation and punctuation feels like it takes longer than typing with the on-screen keyboard. (I’ll be fixing the novel with a regular keyboard next week, so that’s not a concern.)

I don’t have an allegiance to a particular Android keyboard, so for the moment I’m sticking with the default Samsung one. This has a Swype-style approach where you drag your finger from letter to letter, and seems to work pretty well most of the time. While I seem to miss spaces quite often, spell check can usually fix that with a single tap.

One useful option is the ability to set up common strings of characters as “hot keys” which you access by long-pressing the number keys. Very handy for automatically adding HTML code to stories.

Let’s be clear: I would type much faster on a conventional keyboard. But I’m not so slow that I feel as if work is impossible — and I do write more in my job than most people.

The biggest annoyance is trying to position the cursor by tapping on the screen. I have fairly small fingers but I rarely get it right first try, and then Android assumes my second attempt means I want to bring up a Paste dialog. I’ll have to check the settings to see if that can be tweaked.

I’m spending the day on the Gold Coast, which is a welcome escape from Brisbane’s G20 posturing. To leave my hotel this morning, a surly security guard had to remove a padlock from a chain-link fence surrounding the entire building. The diet had also been fitted with an airport security scanner. Not the most welcoming memory to depart on, Novotel.

Tomorrow I head to Melbourne for multiple meetings. My big worry? That I won’t fit in my 10,000 steps and my smartwatch will nag me mercilessly. Time will tell.

Lifehacker’s Note 4 Roadtrip series is sponsored by Samsung.

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