The oddly named iTwinge, an iPhone sleeve that does the trick in the simplest of fashions: it merely covers the software keys with real, physical ones. Cool, one might think for a split second: I can finally type without looking! However, a closer inspection of iTwinge reveals a number of problems.

First of all, it makes your iPhone a lot fatter than such a sexy gadget should be. Furthermore, iPhone’s keyboard has some advantages over physical keyboards: it adapts to different situations (for example, the “.com” key is only there when you need it), it gives you a choice of typing some alternative symbols if you press and hold a key, etc. None of those will really translate well to iTwinge. Not to mention the fact that it won’t work particularly well when you flip the iPhone over to its side.

Still, it might be useful in certain situations. For example, if you must write a blog post or a long email, and the only device you have at your disposal is the iPhone, iTwinge might come in handy. According to the manufacturer, “an average user will improve their speed by 30% to 40% and simultaneously reduce typing errors by 70 – 80%”.

However, some purists still prefer to have a Blackberry-style keyboard. Mobile Mechatronics has come up with the world’s first iPhone keyboard to fulfill the need for those physical keyboard enthusiasts. It’s called iTwinge – a lightweight keyboard sleeve that attaches to the bottom of the iPhone. Yes, iTwinge is not an external keyboard. It’s just a typing “skin” that covers the on-screen keyboard with the iTwinge keys right over the virtual key. When you type a key on iTwinge, it actually transfers the key press to the underlying virtual keyboard. But it provides a better typing experience by offering tactile feedback of a “real” keyboard.

The company claimed iTwinge enables you to type faster and with less typos. In reference to the company’s studies, it mentioned an average user can improve the typing speed by 30 to 40 percent with typing errors reduced by 70 to 80 percent.

No installation is required for iTwinge and it works on both iPhone 3G & 3GS. As advertised, you can simply plug it into iPhone, turn it on and type. When you do not need iTwinge keyboard, just slide off of the iPhone which will only take you merely 1 second to do it.

The iTwinge is now available for pre-order at US$29.99 and it is scheduled to ship on November 19. I do not have any hand-on experience on the product. My first impression of iTwinge, however, is it’s designed for heavy email and note users. Just not for me. Further, the physical keyboard covers a good portion of the iPhone screen. Obviously, it doesn’t suit every iPhone application (e.g. Maps). That means, you’ll need to slide on and off of the iPhone when you switch between different iPhone applications.

[Via mashable.com]

After checking out the video, I’m still not convinced the idea of physical keyboard, particularly iTwinge covers half of the iPhone screen. To learn more about iTwinge, you can check out the video to see it in action.


By the way, as you can see in the video, the demonstrator can type 30 words per minute with iTwinge. Challenge: Can you type faster than the demo? If you want to know how fast you type using iPhone’s touch keyboard, point the mobile Safari to iPhoneTypingTest.com to test your typing speed.

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