Recently I went to a local Starbucks, ordered my usual Venti dark, found a comfy club chair next to a window and set out to write the great American novel. I flicked my wrist toward me to fire up my Samsung Gear S3, opened up a new document and started writing my epic novel.
Sadly, I was disappointed. It took 2 minutes to punch out a sentence. I realized I'd be dead before I finished my novel on my watch.
I should have taken my laptop.
I never set out to do something so foolish as to write a novel on my smartwatch. That would drive me nuts.
BUT, that doesn't mean there aren't times I need to input text into my smartwatch. Text messages and emails are 2 prime examples.
Sadly, while the Samsung Gear S3 is an amazing smartwatch, one I rated as best overall smartwatch, one shortcoming it has is the default text input options (i.e. keyboards). By default, the watch offers several text input options except no traditional keyboards.
I'm really amazed given the care and thought Samsung put into this watch, not to mention they actually provide 4 text input options yet failed to include a traditional keyboard option. Even Android Wear watches have a traditional keyboard which is actually quite good.
Consequently, one of the first things I did after setting up my Gear S3 was to hunt for a better keyboard app.
I didn't find 1 keyboard app. I found 3. I installed all 3.
This post showcases these 3 keyboard apps, one of which I'm sure you'll find is better than the default options.
Samsung Gear DEFAULT Keyboards
Let's kick of this post with screenshots of the default Gear S3 keyboards. I include these for the benefit for those of you considering buying this watch. I fear you may have read other critiques of this watch and so I hope this post shows you what it comes with, but more importantly, how you can improve deficiencies with apps.
Here's a screenshot of the main options whenever in an app for inputting text: You choose voice, emojis or text input.
Why I don't care for the default keyboards
Here are my problems with the default text input options:
1. Handwriting Mode: For starters, I'm left-handed yet wear my watch on my left. This means I need to hand-write with my wrong hand. That's difficult to do. Despite that, I tested this text input option with the watch on my right and that wasn't easy and certainly slower than typing.
2. Telephone keypad: I very much dislike these types of keypads. I find it tedious having to push multiple times to get the correct letter. Worse, you must wait briefly after each digit input in order to input another digit. I can see how some people like this, but it's not for me.
3. Speak to Text: I may work on this, but it's not 100% accurate and fixing mistakes is very time-consuming. This is particularly the case for text messages and emails which you don't want filled with indecipherable errors. For memos to me, this works just fine.
3 Samsung Gear Keyboard Apps for Faster Typing
Now we get to the heart of the matter. 3 other text input apps you can install. Here they are:
1. Agile Keyboard by Le Hoang
Agile keyboard functions exactly like a regular keyboard. All letters are on the screen and while that makes for small buttons, I like it and it works well. It's faster than the telephone keypad style. It includes letters, symbols and emojis. It's a complete digit input option.
See screenshot below.
2. Speed Typing / Modality by Joyful Machines
I don't care for this because its largely based on auto suggest, which I find annoying most of the time. If you like autosuggest, you should definitely give this keyboard a shot. Click here for Speed Typing app.
See screenshot below:
3. TouchOne Keyboard by Infiniti Technology
So close to perfection. I love the concept of the letters placed on the perimeter of the round face. This makes for larger buttons. BUT, the app dropped the ball because the digits are in clusters just like a telephone keypad so you have to tap multiple times for some letters. It would have been so much better if you could just tap individual letters. Click here for TouchOne Keboard.
Check out screenshots below:
TouchOne includes an autosuggest option. You click the small up arrow in the middle of the screen to get the list of autosuggest phrases. This can be a useful tool.
How to change the keyboard for the Samsung Gear S3
It took me a bit to figure out changing keyboard options isn't in the form of an app.
Here are the 4 steps to change the keyboard option for you Gear S3 watch:
1. Go to watch settings.
2. Select "Input"
3. Select "Default keyboard".
4. Scroll and select your new keyboard.
Which is my favorite Keypad?
I tend to use the Agile Keypad by Le Hoang the most. While the buttons are a bit small, I love all the letters on one screen and I find it's the keyboard which I can most easily and quickly input text.