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TouchPal is an alternative input method for mobile devices, designed and developed by CooTek. It is a software application running on multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, and Windows 8. It overlays a virtual keyboard on the touchscreen of the handhelds, with which you can enter text by tapping on the screen or sliding a finger between letters constructing the word. It is an alternative text input method to the traditional physical keyboards and default keyboards provided by the device manufacturer.
TouchPal default keyboard layout is designed based on the "T+" technology, a patent pending technology owned by CooTek. It combines two letters and one symbol on each key, whose layout looks like a T. The overall layout of all the letters follows a common computer keyboard layout, which is the QWERTY layout. This makes each button big enough for thumb tapping, while keeping the general computer keyboard layout.
Users can tap on the keys directly to input predictably, and slide horizontally or vertically to input precisely. Below is a summary of the basic usage:
- Tap directly to input predictively.
- Slide to the left or right to precisely input the letter on the left or right, respectively.
- Slide down to input the symbol on the bottom.
- Slide up to input upper case letters.
- Slide up then down to input the numbers on the top..
In 2009, CooTek won the award of Mobile Innovation at the GSMA Global Mobile Awards in Barcelona. This competition rewards the most valued and relevant applications, devices, services and technologies. It is attended by experimented judges such as journalists, analysts and academics.
Apart from that, CooTek reached the Final-stage of the Battlefield of TechCrunch Disrupt in 2012 in Beijing. This startup battlefield rewards the most innovative new product among 30 shortlisted companies with the help of expert judges.
Finally, CooTek's TouchPal application was featured on the main page of Google Play Store in January and February 2012.
Among its features, TouchPal X has included some innovations:
- TouchPal Wave – Using gestures to input commonly used phrases or sentences
- TouchPal Curve® – Word gesture technology
- Sliding up or down to input number or symbol
- Emoji X: Flip up Space bar for emoji & smileys
- Contextual prediction
- Walkie-Talkie style voice input (Push-to-talk)
- T+ dual-letter layout: bigger keys than QWERTY
- Toolbar plugins (Twitter plugin)
- Mixed language prediction
- Keyboard meter and speed statistics tracker
- Multiple themes available
- One-hand keyboard layout for large touchscreens
TouchPal provides mixed language prediction and support more than 70 languages, under which:
- Bosnian (Cyrillic)
- Bosnian (Latin)
- Portuguese (Brazil)
- Serbian (Latin)
- Simple Cangjie
- Spanish (Latin)
- More than 45 manufacturers/ODMs/OEMs have selected TouchPal Keyboard
- 18% Android phones are shipped with TouchPal Keyboard as default keyboard
- TouchPal has reached more than 50 million global shipments already
Besides, TouchPal is the default keyboard of Vodafone and Orange ODM devices since 2009. It has also been selected as Mobile Internet Application of China Telecom in 2012. Finally, TouchPal Keyboard is the default keyboard on many manufacturers’ devices including:
- HTC One X
- HTC 10
- Lenove K900
- Sony Xperia Ion
- Huawei Honor
- Huawei Ascend
- ZTE Grand Memo N5
- ZTE Grand S
- Sony NEX-5
- Sony NEX-6
TouchPal v1 was released in October 2007. It only provides the T+ layout virtual keyboard with one-layer design. There aren’t any additional function keys such as Shift or Ctrl because the functions they achieve are built-in and can be easily implemented by finger tapping or sliding. It has many useful features such as self-defined sentences (My Sentences), My Commands, drag & drop buttons and comprehensive content editing functions. It only supports English input.
TouchPal v2 comes out in late December 2007. Apart from what the v1 has to offer, its virtual keyboard is resizable by finger sliding. It also includes customizable emoticons and a few other features. It also supports several European languages input such as English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch.
TouchPal v3 English version is released in April 2008, together with extra European input languages. TouchPal v3 Chinese input version comes out one month later.
Compared with the previous two versions, TouchPal v3 has a lot of new features. It supports three layouts on one virtual keyboard: the T+ layout, the full QWERTY layout, and the 9-key PhonePad layout. Users can switch keyboard layouts by finger sweeping. There is also an animation effect when turning the pages or switching the layouts. TouchPal v3 significantly improves the predictive algorithm by incorporating its patent pending context-based word prediction and mistyping auto-correction algorithm. Besides, it is much more extensible than the previous two versions. With its SDK, users can self develop the supported input languages, the skins, and change the keyboard layout. It also provides changeable keypress sounds.
TouchPal v4 & v5
In November 2008, CooTek starts to release TouchPal for Android devices with its initial version (v4) mainly shipped for manufacturer. Five months later, in April 2009, CooTek launches the official public release of TouchPal v4.2.
Almost two years later, in June 2011, TouchPal Curve v4.7.6 is unveiled.
In September 2011, CooTek launches Touchpal v5.0 with milestone upgrading.
In September 2013, Touchpal X v 5.4.5 comes out with various added features such as TouchPal Wave, TouchPal Curve®, Symbol and Number quick input, Emoji X, Contextual prediction and Walkie-Talkie style voice input.
Other products (TouchPal Contacts)
In addition to TouchPal keyboard, CooTek developed TouchPal Contacts which is a powerful smart dialer/contacts application replacing users’ stock dialer. It provides the ability to search contacts on dial pad, set users’ availability, block calls and integrate Facebook & Twitter into the contact list.
The latest features are the following:
- Gesture dialing : drawing a gesture to call frequent contacts rapidly
- Fast contact search:
- Typing directly contact names on dial pad. Type "MG", "Miy" or "Guz" for "Miyase Guzel"
- Typing "1234" for any phone number consisting of "1234". (e.g., "415-888-1234", "415-123-4888")
- Search contacts by their company names, email, address or notes.
- Number attribution: Showing the registered location of phone number
- Group Contacts
- Group management including create, mod, del
- Batching SMS or email by one-key press
- Blacklist: Creating a black/white list
- Auto updating contacts: When someone's Pals update their profile, it will be automatically updated.
This app requires locating permission to provide advanced yellow page search in some countries. CooTek will extend this feature to more countries in the future. TouchPal won't read users’ locations if their country is not supported at all.
TouchPal is similar in concept to Swype, SwiftKey Flow, Fleksy, SwipeIt, SlideIT, Adaptxt, ShapeWriter, Multiling O Keyboard, Sony Gesture Input, and Android 4.2 Gesture typing, all of which also involve tracing a path over letters on a virtual keyboard. A little different approach yet still similar in concept is found in MessagEase and Minuum.
- Nate Adcock, "TouchPal: One of the Best Soft Keyboards", Smartphone and Pocket PC Magazine, June/July 2008 issue
- Nate Adcock, "TouchPal-A Well-Done Soft Keyboard Alternative!", Smartphone and Pocket PC Magazine, February 10, 2008
- Dieter Bohn, "Great New Soft Keyboard", WMExperts.com, October 4, 2007
- Sean Cooper, "CooTek's TouchPal brings iPhone-like touchpad to Windows Mobile", Engadget Mobile, October 12, 2007
- "TouchPal's Interactive Input Technology Selected by Mercedes-Benz and Sony"