Author: Severin Smith

Minuum 2.9: bug fixes, uninstall languages

Minuum 2.9 is here. In this release, we have added the ability to uninstall languages, along with some minor changes and bug fixes. See below for details on the changes and let us know what you think via Twitter, Google+ and Facebook!

Uninstall languages

It is now possible to uninstall languages under “Language & layout”->”Select language and layout”. Just tap the trash icon next to any inactive language to uninstall it. It is not currently possible to uninstall English as it is bundled with the Minuum app.

lang-del

Improvements and bug fixes

A quick glow animation has been added to the language indicator (on the spacebar or in the bottom right) to draw your attention and provide visual confirmation that you’ve changed languages. We’ve also improved compatibility with pre Jelly Bean apps. On some older apps the delete and return keys were not working correctly.

Minuum now also displays a consistent font on all screens, even when a custom system font is used.

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Minuum 2.7: Watch support and a new animation

Version 2.7, available today on the play store, introduces support for many smart watches as well a new animation to make Minuum more intuitive to use.

Smart watch support

You can now install the version of Minuum available on the play store directly onto almost any Android smart watch. Minuum is now more responsive and intelligent about screen size right out the box. For example, this means you could side load the APK from the play store directly onto your Galaxy Gear 1.

If you’re an Omate TrueSmart user, don’t forget that you can download Minuum for free from the Tools section of the OStore.

New full/mini animation

We’re constantly working to make Minuum feel more natural to use and fun to play with. Today we’ve added a new transition animation when you switch between full and mini mode. Just drag up or down on the suggestions bar and try it for yourself

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Advanced option to disable auto-spacing

You can now go into “Minuum Settings”->”Experimental & advanced”->”Auto-spacing” to disable auto-spacing. While we strongly recommend you keep auto-spacing on for the best Minuum experience, sometimes you need that extra control.

Bug fixes

  • Auto-correct toggle switch now adapts to colour themes properly
  • Keyboard automatically opens in settings dialogs
  • Fixed erroneous “Boot and updating” dialogs
  • Performance improvements
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Minuum 2.6: Custom themes, Russian and a new gesture

Today we’re releasing Minuum 2.6 with three major new improvements: we’ve added custom themes, so you can make Minuum look and feel right for your phone, we’ve made available a Russian language pack, and we’ve designed a new gesture for switching between the full and the mini keyboard.

Custom themes

In Minuum 2.6 you can now design your own colour scheme by selecting "Custom theme" under "Minuum settings"->"Look & feel"->"Select theme".

colors
Try out this theme on your phone http://minuum.com/theme/true/e6cb67/3d7499

You can send themes to your friends via tweets, SMS or email by clicking the share button in the colour picker. This sends a special Minuum theme URL like this one http://minuum.com/theme/true/7ae667/000000. Open the link on your phone and Minuum’s theme will automatically change.

Custom themes are only available if you unlock the free trial version or buy the full version from Google Play.

Russian

We’re also excited to announce the release of a Russian language pack. You can download the new language pack by going to "Minuum Settings"->"Language & layout"->"Select language and layout". One extra feature of our Russian language pack is the ability to type in "transliteration mode". This means you can type on the qwerty keyboard and Minuum will disambiguate in Cyrillic. For example, if you type "privet", Minuum will suggest "привет".

russian_gif

One layout per language

You’ll also notice that you can now choose a different keyboard layout for each language. The "Select language and layout" menu now has a keyboard layout setting for each language. This means you can use azerty in French, Cyrillic in Russian and qwerty in English.

lang

New full/mini gesture

We’re introducing a great new gesture for switching between the full keyboard and the mini keyboard. You can now simply drag up or down on the suggestions bar to switch modes. This new gestures makes it much easier to quickly switch to the full keyboard to teach Minuum a new word or type a password.

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Send us your feedback on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or send us an e-mail at support@minuum.com

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Minuum 2.5: Blue theme and power features

Minuum version 2.5 is available today and we’ve added a new blue theme, plus a few power features and bug fixes. The new theme is available under "Minuum Settings" -> "Look & Feel" -> "Select Theme". You’ll also notice that we’ve fixed the colouring of emoji and other small details in the light and dark themes.

Minuum Blue.png

Gesture Sensitivity

We’ve spent a long time crunching the data in order to made another adjustment to gesture sensitivity. Hopefully we’ve been able to find a good balance so gestures work across all devices. If you’re having trouble with gestures you can try adjusting the sensitivity yourself under "Minuum Settings" -> "Experimental & advanced" -> "Gesture sensitivity". Gestures not triggering easily enough? Try increasing the sensitivity to 100. Keep in mind that this is a fine adjustment, and may have more effect on some devices than others.

Enter to Send

We’re introducing an advanced option to let you control the "enter to send" behaviour. When you select this option, pressing enter (or swiping up and to the right) in messaging apps like SMS, hangouts and WhatsApp will always send the current message instead of inserting a new line. You can enable this option under "Minuum Settings" -> "Experimental & advanced" -> "Enter to send"

Bugs and Fixes

  • Emoji are now visible in light and dark themes
  • ß character can now be typed by long pressing on "s" even when the shift button is pressed
  • Indiegogo backers now get a special badge!
  • Workaround for crashing LG G2 devices. Custom sounds are disabled on these devices.

Send us your feedback on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or send us an e-mail at support@minuum.com

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Minuum 2.4: Themes!

Themes

Today we’re releasing Minuum 2.4 which introduces two themes: the default "Dark Theme" and the new "Light Theme". You can choose your theme under "Minuum Settings" -> "Look & Feel" -> "Select Theme". You can expect more themes in upcoming releases.

new_themes

New Permissions

You’ll also notice that we’re requesting three new permissions with this update. Because of the new permissions, you’ll have to approve the update in the Google Play store – so make sure you take a second to update Minuum to the new version.

All three of these permissions are needed for Google Cloud Messaging (GCM), which we’re integrating into Minuum. GCM is service that will allow us to push data, such as configurations, to your Minuum keyboard between play store updates. This should mean a better Minuum experience for you. Here’s a quick overview of the three permissions and what they do:

  • "find accounts on device": This service allows us to list the accounts present on your phone. GCM requires a Google account.
  • "receive data from internet": This one just lets us specifically receive data from GCM aka "internet"
  • "prevent phone from sleeping": So the application can temporarily keep the processor from sleeping when a message is received.

Unlock Badge

If you’ve upgraded from the free trial version, you’ll now see an unlocked icon so you know you have the full version.

unlock

Bug Fixes

As usual, we have a couple of nice little improvements and bug fixes for you:

  • Gesture sensitivity (for space and delete swipes) has been adjusted. We hope this will make gestures a little less sensitive on the devices like the Samsung S3/S4.
  • We’ve disabled auto correct for external keyboards so you can type normally on bluetooth and flip/slide-out keyboards.
  • A small popup delay was introduced in the shift button menu. This should eliminate an issue where pressing shift would cause the keyboard to switch to numbers mode on tablets and other large devices.

Send us your feedback on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or send us an e-mail at support@minuum.com

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Minuum available on the Omate TrueSmart watch

We’re excited to announce that the Minuum keyboard is now available on the Omate TrueSmart watch. Starting today, owners of the TrueSmart can visit the OStore on their device and download the Minuum Keyboard for free.

TrueSmart owners will get all the same Minuum updates and new languages that our smartphone users receive via the Google Play store.

The Minuum team spends a lot of time developing and testing with all types of smart watches. Of all the devices we use, we think the TrueSmart is the best on the market today. Its sensitive touch screen and great processing power means it can deliver a powerful typing experience. With Minuum on the TrueSmart, it’s finally easy and practical to take notes or send messages via apps like SMS or WhatsApp directly from your wrist.

We’re excited to continue improving Minuum on smart watches with the help of the Omate community. If you use a TrueSmart watch, we’d love to hear your feedback at support.minuum.com

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Who Forgot the Smart TV?

Desktops, mobile phones, wearables – they’re all getting special treatment, with carefully crafted user experiences emerging from ongoing refinement. But left by the wayside are the lonely smart TV and its accompanying remote, not known for their stellar input capabilities. When the best universal remotes have more buttons than a missile launch control centre, prospects are grim.

mega_remote
Great design, or the greatest design?

In particular, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of trying to type on a smart TV. Everything is designed around information consumption, while user input is tacked on as an afterthought. Unfortunately, remotes are no longer just used for the occasional TV guide lookup; you can search Netflix or YouTube, surf the internet, send instant messages, or Skype from your couch.

A few companies (Apple, Roku) have succeeded in simplifying their remotes, but the typing only gets worse. Terrible typing solutions mainly fall into two categories: virtual keyboards and hardware keyboards.
 

Virtual Grids

The most prevalent solution is simply to present an onscreen keyboard: a grid of characters and a cursor. The cursor is typically moved one square at a time to painstakingly select letters. The impracticality of these keyboards mostly speaks for itself; words per minute speed in particular is abysmal. They’re equally common on TVs and video consoles.

Apple TV Keyboard
Only five clicks from here to ‘u’

On remotes with trackpads or motion control, the cursor moves freely on the screen. The Wiimote is a good example of this:

wiikeyboard_onscreen

Despite the availability of new robust motion sensing, it doesn’t innovate. The chosen interaction forces the user to repeatedly aim in two dimensions without physical anchoring, a gesture that can be straining. The performance and comfort of this approach is also then affected by TV screen size.
 

Stick a Keyboard On It

The other approach is to just provide the user with a full hardware keyboard (and maybe a trackpad, too). It seems like this is the same design approach TV remotes have been following for 30+ years and I’m not the only one who thinks so. When in doubt, add more buttons.

Again, game consoles have taken a similar approach with clip-on keyboards which were targeted at heavy IM users.

tivo_slide

It’s a flip phone? Nope, TV remote

touchpad_keyboard

It’s a laptop? Nope, TV remote

hackers_mini_computer

Target demographic?

The issue here, aside from the nightmarish franken-remotes themselves, is that the design doesn’t complement the TV or game experience. If I’m slouching on the couch with snacks, I want the laziest possible typing experience. Whatever I use needs to work with one hand, sideways or upside-down, without a ridiculous grid of buttons; but it still has to be fast. Similarly, if I want a full keyboard when I’m gaming, I’ll play on a PC. I want a way of typing that’s fast and effective, but that’s also part of my play experience and uses the same motion/vision/joystick controls.

ps3keyboard
xboxkeyboard_clip_on

Is it better on a game controller?

Other approaches and particularities

Some other approaches have been taken. Pairing with mobile phones may prove to be a reasonable technique, but has yet to take off. I would argue that this also breaks the TV watching/gaming experience and therefore isn’t ideal. Voice recognition is also making inroads, but from a consumer perspective reliability is still an issue. Also, if you’re already in a noisy movie or gaming environment, it may be both unacceptable and less reliable to use voice input.

There are, of course, many interesting outlier techniques, although none with mass adoption.

The console games market is particularly interesting as game developers can opt to build their own typing solutions. Beyond Good and Evil is a popular example of a different take on typing. It provides an infinite, linear, spiral interface:

bge

One thing is clear: information throughput from user to TV has dramatically increased. We’ve hit the limit on how much of this problem we can solve by just adding more buttons – whether virtual or physical. We’re game for trying some new approaches to simplifying the grid of buttons.
 

Minuum + Smart TV

What makes the Minuum keyboard different from other keyboards is not just its form factor; it’s the combination of advanced language modelling and reduced constraint on interaction.

 
Minuum measures input along only one dimension. It requires only a single axis of information: a line. This simplicity makes it easy to apply Minuum to almost any sensor or scenario: tilting your hand, pointing left to right, sliding along a curved bezel. Also, as you know if you’ve tried Minuum on your Android phone, it’s backed by amazing autocorrect that lets your input be sloppy and imprecise. This means your interaction area can be any shape, big or small and still work well. Take a look at Minuum running on a smart watch: the flexibility of this technology lets us build simple and fast typing solutions for smart TVs and game consoles that “fit in” as part of the user experience.

One of our favourite ways of interacting with smart TVs so far is with motion control such as the Wiimote. The idea is simple, as shown in the video above: point approximately left or right towards the letter you want and tap – no need to be precise, and no need to move the remote up/down. Pull the trigger for a space.

The key difference with the stock Wii keyboard is that you don’t aim directly at the letter, you just point left/right; the vertical portion doesn’t matter. This means you can type with your hand in all sorts of relaxed, comfy positions: dangling over the couch edge, resting on your knee, pointing up while you’re lying down. In fact, you don’t even need to point towards the television. Minuum notices when you start typing and sets up its frame of reference wherever you are. You can also keep using the same interface or game controller you were already using. At the same time, you can type significantly faster than on any existing consumer TV keyboard.

Of course, on a TV, you just want to get to the watching, not spend time learning a new way to type. With Minuum we believe we’ve found a way to make it natural: just point near the letter you want. The letters follow the same QWERTY layout you’re used to, but compressed down to a line. So while you can improve over time and learn to type really fast, the first time you pick it up it will still be faster and easier to use than your regular TV interface.

The future of interaction with smart TVs has overlap with other new devices; the flexibility of the one-dimensional technology behind Minuum will eventually let you bring your keyboard with you everywhere, on your smartphone, TV, game console, Google Glass, Myo, Leap Motion, and more.

Send me your feedback! Let us know what you think of Minuum for smart TVs: Twitter, FacebookGoogle+

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Announcing a Wearables Video Series and the Minuum SDK

We’re working on a series of wearable typing demos, so be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see them first.

In addition, we’re almost ready to open up our SDK to the next wave of developers. The Minuum SDK lets you rapidly prototype new ways of typing with wearable and other smart devices—grab an Arduino plus some sensors, and you can be typing within minutes!

Sign up today to make your mark on the future of typing.

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