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This week saw the official launch of Adaptex, the software from Keypoint Technologies that can help users of PDAs enter data and text much faster and easier. Communicating and buying via your PDA or smartphone whilst on the road can be a lot easier potentially.

Although the folks at Adaptex do not refer to the software as predictive text, that is probably what will come to mind the first time you try out Adaptex, a new speedier way of entering text on mobile devices, since it offers words based on what letters you have entered up to that point. However it is much more than a standard predictive text which many of us have built into mobile phones, because it:

  • offers several words – up to four to choose from, as well as entire phrases of many words
  • applies natural language analysis and pattern recognition to give you the most likely and most logical words based on the context of text you have entered
  • has a learning logic that allows it to offer you the words and phrases you use most often

User Vision performed usability testing on a prototype version of Adaptex a few months ago, comparing it to standard text entry and predictive text on a variety of different devices and input methods such as:

  • Blackberry type thumbing boards
  • Text entry using an on-screen keyboard you tap on with a stylus
  • Character recognition with stylus input

As usual with our usability testing, we captured a range of metrics such as the task success rate, number and types of errors, subjective satisfaction and ease of use ratings.  In this case we also captured detailed data on the number of keystrokes and the exact amount of time to enter sets of text into devices, with and without Adaptex activated, in a within-subjects, balanced study.

The results were unequivocal and a clear sign that Keypoint had developed a product that was faster for text entry and preferred by PDA users. Adaptex was about 35% faster and typically cut the number of ‘keystrokes’ by about half as the users saw the words or phrases they were trying to create appearing before them.  Rather unusually for the usability tests we typically conduct, I actually had test participants asking me when it was going to be available and how can they get it.

The other real benefit, which users found useful, was the ability to incorporate specialised dictionaries for certain business sectors such as medicine or law where the length of the words is rather daunting. Few doctors would look forward to typing in ‘reorder prescription for isosorbide dinitrate and Sorbitrate’ into a PDA, but with Adaptex it can be done in just a few strokes, especially once Adaptex has learned it as a common phrase from that user and added it into its dictionary. 

Personally I never fancied bashing my thumbs into a crackberry, so I have grown increasingly fond of my Orange SPV M600 which looks more like a PDA than a phone, and I poke away with a stylus instead. With the Adaptex, I find I can out-text a Blackberry user any day. For mobile workers entering text or sending emails, or completing forms whilst buying online, it will be a real time saver. 

Keypoint Technologies, the start-up creators of Adaptex, seem to be going from strength to strength too setting up licensing agreements with the main handheld and mobile device manufacturers around the world, so it is likely you’ll be seeing it built in to your next device sooner or later. But if you want a sneak preview or get a trial copy, check it out on www.adaptexlive.com.

Chris Rourke

Published 13 November, 2006 by Chris Rourke

Chris Rourke is Managing Director of User Vision and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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Sarah


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