Edit: This article initially referred to entering text by swiping between characters as ‘Wordflow’ but the correct term is ‘Shape Writing.’ Word Flow refers to the auto correcting of text and appears on multiple Microsoft devices. Thanks to Kram for letting us know about our mistake. The original text is below.
A lot of the news surrounding Windows 10 focuses on desktop features similar to Window 7 appearing in the upcoming operating system. That attention is rightfully placed as many felt jarred when transitioning from the mouse friendly Windows 7 to the more touch centered Windows 8 but there’s also a unification that’s happening as a result of Windows 10 that’s bringing phone features to tablets and desktops.
The Action Center is one of the most prominent examples. Like its Windows Phone counterpart (the new OS is named Windows 10 Mobile but the features talked about here are from Windows Phone 8/8.1) it shows you notifications from your email and other areas as well and gives you access to quick settings. This is a nice addition as it makes some actions quicker and information more available.
Battery Sense and Data Sense have been spotted in Windows 10, too. These also bring easy access to data making use of your device much easier. But not every feature from Windows Phone is making the jump to Windows 10, at least not that we know. There’s one feature that I’d love to see on my tablet/PC that is now currently only on my phone, the Wordflow keyboard.
Wordflow is one of the easiest ways to type on a phone. You enter text by swiping your thumb or finger around your screen between letters. It even makes it so you don’t have to hit the space bar. Every time you enter a word and lift your finger it automatically enters a space if you type another word. It reduces the number of times you have to lift your thumb and for me is much easier than typing with one thumb the old fashion way. That’s especially true for phones with 5” screens which are pretty standard these days.
Even if you’re comparing it to typing with two thumbs, which can be very quick, it still holds up. I find it easier and faster to type with Wordflow on whatever smartphone I’m using.
That easy typing experience is a stark contrast to that on Windows tablets. The only options you get for Windows tablets keyboard on screen are the standard keyboard with larger buttons, the split keyboard with the number pad in the middle, handwriting mode, and the full keyboard.
The standard keyboard is the easiest for me with its larger keys but my Surface Pro 2 has a 10 inch screen so it’s too big to easily type with one or two hands. I have to resort to pick and peck with one finger like I was in first grade. The split keyboard is supposed to combat this by putting the keys closer to the edges so you can use both thumbs but I find the buttons too small to really use that mode. Handwriting mode is nice but not nearly as fast as Wordflow, and I only use the full keyboard when I need to use one of the specific buttons it provides.
Having Wordflow on tablets would allow fast typing with only one finger. To make it even better they could have the keyboard scale to your screen and be a more reasonable size. At the moment my finger has to travel about a foot just to type the word “what” on my Surface Pro 2. Having the keyboard shrink to half the screen would lower the travel distance. Wordflow covers up mistakes well by assuming you are actually typing words instead of nonsense so a smaller keyboard in this case is okay. Even if you’re a little off it figures out what you’re trying to type very well.
Additionally, with the hardware many devices support, you could also combine Wordflow with a stylus. Quickly gliding across the keyboard with your stylus would be even faster than using with your finger and would also utilize a selling point of many Windows tablets. It’s also been suggested in a Microsoft Discussion to have the mouse combine with a Wordflow setup.
This is only one example of a feature I’d like to see brought to Windows 10 for tablets and PCs but I think it would make a huge difference. Typing on these devices is awkward at the moment and much slower than Wordflow on phones. If devices like the Surface line want to be more functional as tablets, being able to quickly type without attaching a keyboard is a huge boost.