Hands-on: Minuum Keyboard, does it live up to the hype? [VIDEO]


There was a lot of hype surrounding the Minuum Keyboard Project, ever since the virtual keyboard sought funding from Indiegogo back in April. Since then, the keyboard app went well above their meager $10,000 goal, and developer Whirlscape managed to raise a whopping $87,000 in cash. Yeah, people were excited about.

The Idea

Minuum keyboard wm DSC00979

I know, I know. We’ve seen the claims before: the modern QWERTY keyboard is as old and rusty as the typewriter, and something needs to be done about it. The thing is with Minuum, lead designer Will Walmsley wasn’t trying to reinvent the QWERTY layout — simply tweak it. For the small screen.

What they’ve come up with Minuum is a minimal, unobtrusive keyboard that only occupies a single row along the bottom of your phone. If you look closely, you’ll find the traditional QWERTY layout within, only now it’s super tiny. Essentially you type as you normally would but instead of changing rows for different letters, they all occupy the same single row. Spaces are executed by swiping forward, and deleting words are as easy as swiping the other direction. Pretty straight forward.

Minuum keyboard intro


In my time with Minuum, I found a few issues with the keyboard. First off is when you type with heavy slang or make up words. When I type to my mother, I use the Queen’s English but when talking with my peers, “Oh, hellllll naw, bruh!!! All that goes out da window.”

The nice thing about Minuum is it will “learn” common words much like other keyboard replacements, but typing out email addresses or proper nouns kills so much time, it’d be faster to pull down the notification tray and switch to another keyboard. Also, I get the idea that Minuum is meant to save screen real estate, but is that really necessary with 4.7-inch+ smartphone displays? I admit, this would work great on the G1, or smartwatch, or any other mall screen where the hands of an elf are needed, but I found it almost… pointless on my smartphone.

In landscape mode it seemed to work well enough, allowing you to see more than just the text box. But throughout it all, I was still asking myself the same question, “Is this really worth it?” The answer, for me anyway, was always — no.


Minuum Hootie hands on wm DSC00981

Keep in mind I’m not saying Minuum keyboard is bad by any means. In fact, if they merely had an option to use it in a standard 4-row QWERTY layout, I might have made it my new default. The spot on corrections with sloppy typing might have only been matched by veteran keyboards like SwiftKey. That being said, I think Minuum a great idea, just one better suited for the small screen (like, really small screen), not our modern full sized Androids.

If Minuum intrigues you, make sure to head on over to the official website. There you can sign up to help test the app once the open beta is available.

[Minuum Beta Signup]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. So what would you give it out of 10 Chris??

    1. It’s tough to say, really. I think for what it is (a tiny keyboard), it performs well. Really well. 9-ish.

      As for will it replace your current favorite keyboard…. no. You’ll go back to it in an instant because we’re all used to bigger, standard layouts. :/

      1. I found the biggest issue with it is typing URLs in the browser. it want’s to autocorrect anything that isn’t a word, and since urls have no spaces it does it a lot.

      2. ty, ill give it a shot since you highly rate it.

  2. hey, my tweet shows up in the notification bar in the video! i’m internet famous now :D

  3. Very interesting, I been wanting to try some kind of new keyboard.

  4. I see you sporting Hootie. Don’t you just love the Super High Res avatars?!

    1. YES! Plumes had ’em, it’s just that they’re really tiny.

      Low-res avatars is the reason I wont touch some Twitter apps (like the official one).

  5. is this not in the play store ?

    1. Not yet, only available for Indiegogo backers at the moment, then it will go into an open beta.

  6. I’d like to see this keyboard built in as a Swiftkey feature, like Flow is to Swype.

    1. Good point. I wonder who will be first to jump on this idea renaming it “mini-mode” or something like that.

  7. She wants the D…LMFAO!!!!!!! Chris you are a friggin CHAMPION.

  8. “It means she wants the D”

    1. Chris is the best

  9. No thank you. Thats just ridiculous. I like my qwerty.

  10. In my honest opinion– forcing people to speak sensibly is a feature, not a drawback.

    1. Incorrect pronunciation and spelling drives me insane.

    2. uh… some of us visit this blog from work dude, not cool

      1. Get back to work then. That’s not my problem if you get caught.

        1. yeah one should fully expect to see nudy cartoons on a tech blog site, thanks for once again lowering the bar for the rest of us

          1. nudy ? LOL Not much too see in that little cartoon, in fact everything is covered!

          2. Yeah i know. But i work for the government so I’m a bit paranoid about this stuff. Wouldn’t want to get a warning for something like this :p

          3. Wow if you are afraid of getting a warning about such a thing, there is something wrong, I guess.

          4. Doesn’t matter. You should be working anyway. Again, it’s not my problem if you get caught.

  11. I love this keyboard, but I can see why you don’t like it, Chris.

    1. Also, if you use the spacebar, I notice that it’s way better of a keyboard.

      1. just FYI, if you swipe to the right, that will give you a space, which is why the spacebar is off by default. I personally like it on though, only to give me a little more of a buffer between the keyboard and my home/app switcher buttons, it so close I would hit them by accident until I turned on the spacebar.

  12. Isn’t this pretty much the samr thing as what do they call it a t9 keyboard that you used to use on the old dumb phones

  13. I’m a big fan of SlideIt keyboard. It is a slide keyboard and it’s got some decent prediction that starts picking up on your habits after a while. As with any keyboard there are minor annoyances, but overall it’s great! But lately I’ve been using the AOSP keyboard since Google put it in the Play Store. And I must say that it might just end up being my keyboard of choice. After using SwiftKey, Swype, and others I found I kept going back to SlideIt when I got too annoyed that they weren’t the same as SlideIt. But as of now I’ve been using the AOSP keyboard and haven’t felt a need to change in the last week.

    I’ve been watching Minuum and thought it was an interesting Idea, and I kind of want to try it out. But in the end it’s like Chris said; you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to have a good keyboard. I think swiping will be the mobile text entry of choice in the future once people have had a chance to see how much more efficient it can be. In fact, I’m so used to swiping now that going to Minuum’s way of typing might be too annoying for me to go back to tapping to type.

  14. I’m using it now, it’s cool but kinda cumbersome. Fleksy is more fun to type on I think.

  15. Here is why inventing something new is a good idea.
    QWERTY is inefficient for today’s writing. We type differently, because we use different words more than 1870 when the QWERTY was invented. We use # and @ to an extend, we use much more abbreviations.
    And if this was not enough, the typing on mobile phones is even more different than anything for what the old keyboard was made for. Actually the positions of keys where determined on the number of usages in a language.

    And the much cited “wheel”… Actually the wheel was reinvented several times. Thankfully. I don’t think it would be a good idea to use a wagon wheel on an airplane e.g.

    And it’s not a good idea to use QWERTY on a mobile device in 2013+

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