Hardware changes still to come?

Hi,

So I’ve been convinced to get a TextBlade, as I’ve been looking for a portable keyboard I can quickly fold down to a size at least as small as my phone. All the others I’ve found that come anywhere close are still to big and bulky.

When I ordered, it said Fall for expected ship, but I’ve been told that tends to just get postponed to the next season, every season. So, I’m wondering what the status on the hardware itself is. Are there further changes being made to actual hardware, or is it all firmware and app changes now?

If it’s the latter, is there any reason hardware can’t be shipped out? I don’t use Apple stuff, so can’t use the app yet anyway (though it’d be nice if there was a documented way to flash firmware using open source tools such as dfu).

Would really like to start using this keyboard, and making it work well with Ubuntu Touch, preferably with an app.

Cheers.

Hopefully WT will respond but as far as I know, no hardware has changed in a very long time. I’m thinking going back until at least late October. Manufacturing processes have been improved since then.

As for shipping if the hardware is ready, comments by WT seem to support my theory that they want it at an extra high level of reliability to minimize support needs. This also explains their recent comments about transitioning the firmware to make it easier to handle customer issues. We don’t know a lot about that yet.

This isn’t the only reason - they also seem to feel that such a major change in keyboard design and tech is going to face more resistance than a regular keyboard so any avoidable problems are a bigger deal in this case.

Frustrating to be sure. But I can’t disagree with the basic logic. It would just be a question of exactly where to draw the line. I’m pretty sure I know where most would- but those aren’t the people taking on the real risk.

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I have a feeling that WayTools is spending more time on support because of not shipping the hardware, than they would be if people had the hardware in their hands.

I certainly can’t work on making a better experience with the hardware, when I don’t have the hardware, for example. :slight_smile:

There are plenty of 40% keyboards in the market. When you get down to it, the TextBlade doesn’t seem to change typing in any fundamental ways over top of that. I think phones/tablets have made a bigger impact on typing than a compact keyboard will.

From what I’ve heard and read so far, at this point is seems to mostly be a case of perfect is the enemy of good going on, and trying to pile on more features and connected services.

I’m sure I’d have some work to do at getting a layout configured just right for my needs, but more than that, I want a keyboard I can use with a phone, sitting at the bar, that I can pick up, fold down, and thrown in my pocket quickly, when I need to step away from the bar. TextBlade fits that perfectly. I can work out getting used to typing and using layers along the way.

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DBK, I think you lost a year, wasn’t it late 2016 when the latest hardware changes were made? I ordered in May 2017, and I was not aware of any hardware changes since that time.

Not likely. It costs a lot of money to hire more people to handle more problems if avoidable problems still exist.

Typing itself is, of course, essentially the same - hit a key, get a character. But that doesn’t begin to recognize what the TB involves and can do for you. I guess you could say phones and tablets make a bigger impact - but it is a mostly negative one. They have an advantage in that you don’t have to carry anything special at all. But the actual typing experience is a huge backwards step.

Your last paragraph is exactly right.

I couldn’t remember which year then the last of the known hardware updates were made - I recalled it seemed to be with one I got in October. At my age, time goes by much faster it seems so I can lose track unless there is something I can connect to it. In this case, I normally do my annual trip back to the mainland in October, so I recall the month. But I do that every year so I wasn’t sure which year it was!

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There is never a finite set of problems that can exist, nor are they all going to be avoidable, no matter how much you try to think of them before shipping. Every user is different and will run into different problems. There’s not necessarily any need to hire more people to deal with any problems come up. If the only solution to any problems is “hire more people” or “buy more things” then there is a larger problem that has nothing to do with the product.

I don’t mean phones make a bigger impact by being worse keyboards. I mean phones have been designed with the lack of a hardware keyboard, which pushes the software to be better, so keyboards like the TextBlade can actually be usable. Smartphones have been in the hands of billions of users for over a decade, and have drastically changed not only how people communicate and access data, but also how they create, and how developers think about building software. TextBlade has only been in the hands of a very small number of users, for a very short period of time. A product that is continually postponed and builds a bad reputation for itself, will only push itself further away from making any impact of that sort.

I don’t need a savior. I need a keyboard. :slight_smile:

Which isn’t what they are doing. As I stated in this thread, a couple hours prior to the post you are responding to, there is always the question of where you draw the line. After all, I could reverse your statement and say, because you can’t avoid all problems, you should ship no matter what problems exist. Which would be ridiculous, of course. Only WT knows how all the problems stack up, what they are, how many people have them and how often they show up. So they have to decide where to draw the line.

Yes, and treg immediately revealed that there were far more differences than expected. Based on how quickly WT could solve problems we reported, I think it is quite likely that the same thing happened with their own internal testing. That is, someone finds a problem, they can log it even more effectively than we can, and it is fixed. Probably didn’t take long to make it work with all their own people as a result. But as soon as things were expanded, more problems were found and had to be dealt with. Most were fixed quickly, but new ones kept popping up - and a few were tougher to solve. Again, where do you draw the line? But WT has to decide it based on more data than we have.

I’m saying that if you have X number of expected support calls for all reasons combined if you ship now, but if you can fix Y number of problems ahead of time you can reduce the expected number of calls in half, then you don’t need as many support people. It won’t be a direct ratio, but it will be fewer. Plus, by having fewer complaints, you are less likely to suffer from negative reviews (professional or just ordinary users) than if there are a lot more. People can complain all they want about the negative impact of the long delay and certainly that isn’t good for a company. But if the product has too many issues whenever it is released, that is going to have a massively bigger negative impact. And if it is really polished, then a lot of the negative attitudes will fade considerably.

I know. They made an impact by being so ubiquitous so we could type pretty much anywhere - but it is still a backwards step as far as how good the typing is. Still, being able to type at all, even badly, is better than not at all.

I don’t follow that. I would say the software keyboards have improved, but not that they make external keyboards usable beyond the fact that the systems allow them to be paired.

But even with how great the TB is, it isn’t going to replace onscreen keyboards completely. After all, why bother pulling out a TB to send a short message? And they’ll be times it isn’t practical because you have no solid surface to place the TB on. No big deal - all keyboards have some limitations. This is one. But then, the TB also has so many advantages over any keyboard I’ve seen that on balance it is a big step forward in the vast majority of cases.

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Well no. The point was that no matter what the problems are, all possible problems cannot be known. And if they’re all problems in the software anyway, since the hardware hasn’t been changed in over a year, there’s no reason to not ship the hardware, and issue updates to fix the software, at that point. This is why software updates exist in the first place.

Again. As someone who has been developing software for decades, there are always problems that will pop up. Times change. If you keep waiting years to ship your product, you will never ship your product. There will always be new challenges and problems. Just look at all the changes in iOS alone which have happened over the last 3 years.

It’s not going to matter how polished the UX of the iOS app is, if it takes 10 years to release a bluetooth keyboard product. Like I said before, this seems very much like a perfect is the enemy of good situation, where WayTools is trying to creating something perfect in their own eyes, meanwhile leaving customers without an ability to experience anything.

I might suggest a short vacation into the Japanese ethic of Wabi-Sabi.

Whether software keyboards is a step backward or forward, is a matter of opinion. The point was, if there’s a keyboard product people can’t actually have, because it’s not yet perfect, then the impact is a net negative, not the desired positive impact.

The point was that software keyboards open up a lot of things which were previously only available in high end IDE software and such. The integration of a smart hardware keyboard, with software keyboard technologies, will make far a better experience than either one can provide individually. This is what I want to achieve with a TextBlade and Ubuntu Touch, so that I can type a lot less, and produce a lot more. But without the hardware, I can’t do that.

And finally, my point wasn’t about always using TB for all typing. It’s not necessary to type basic sentences for communication. But if I’m sitting at the pub having a beer, and suddenly an idea for some code, a book, etc… pops into my mind, the TB is the perfect companion for that. I don’t need a social networking site to share layouts, or other such services, for a keyboard to be a useful product. All I need is to be able to configure layouts to best suit my needs, and use the thing.

In the end, I think the TB and Ubuntu Touch could be the best companions. If there are no hardware changes in the queue, there’s really no good reason to not ship the hardware to people. People will build far more interesting things when you give them tools, rather than hopes.

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True.

But I don’t agree there. Just have to look at extreme cases to show why. Many have taken the extreme on one side - that you can’t solve all problems in advance so ship. But look at the other extreme: That as long as the hardware works, you should ship regardless of how the software works. That, obviously, would be foolish.

Which brings me right back to my point - that the question is about where you draw the line. No one is expecting to make it perfect and WT has clearly said they are not. Are they trying to make it too good before shipping? Maybe. But I do know that none of us has enough information to really know the answer to that.

Yes, we can all name products that took forever and ultimately failed. But I submit that some of those that are assumed to have failed because they tried to make it “too perfect” actually weren’t good enough at any point, which is why they didn’t ship. But sure, some probably were okay and maybe shipping would have been the right move.

I also think we tend to notice those delays/failures more than we notice those who shipped too soon, got a bad rap, and never recovered. My point is, it works both ways and there is rarely an obvious correct answer. Hindsight is a great thing though!

What it seems like and what it is are not necessarily the same. WT has said they aren’t expecting to solve all problems before shipping. So that rules out the “perfect” part.

I’ll stick with kemo sabe :slight_smile:

I know. I was just talking about how no keyboard is ideal for every situation. TB comes closer than anything else I have seen for the vast majority of situations.

I certainly agree with that. Same as with pretty much any other combination with the TB. I sure don’t want to use any other keyboard now, other than the onscreen ones if just writing a quick message or in the rare case I can’t set the TB down on something.

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At this point, with all the delays, I’m hoping for bt 5 and USB-C. After more than 3 years I don’t have anything that’s USB-A.

With no hardware change in mind and with a high degree to be the definitive one, and also we in this forum having the knowledge that firmware can be polished. I think a massive preordering shipment can be done.

If being a TREG put a lot of work on Waytools (slack inclusion, startup call…), a middle step between TREG and GR will help all of we, I think.

  • We can get our hardware, with the idea that will work better with next OTA updates.
  • Frustration will get lower on forum and Waytools will have less pressure on this side having better focus on firmware.
  • The new issue impact in the forum can serve as a preview of the impact GR will produce (an option to test better WT <–> customer communication process)

All advantages… (¬.¬)

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True, there is only a small number of KNOWN TREG testers. What we don’t know is the number of internal and business partner testers that WayTools are using to test the TextBlade. I disagree with your next sentence as it’s constructed though. Constant postponement might be building a bad reputation with the current customers, but let’s face it, we’re all mostly geeks and early adopter types anyway. WE are more likely to accept the working hardware with known software issues, knowing that it will be fixed in a future software update. Do you really think that the general public would accept that? I don’t. I think that it would cause the second part of your sentence and only push the TextBlade further away from making any impact. THIS is what I think WayTools are trying to avoid by doing all they reasonably can to fix known issues and make it easier to support the unknown issues that will pop up in a widespread release before they ship. Also, most if not all of the general public don’t even know about the TextBlade yet.

Again, I disagree. Software updates exist to fix the unknown issues that will be discovered in the firmware not the known issues that someone said “ship it now with the issues and we’ll fix it later”. They also exist to add the new features that were either thought of after the product shipped or that weren’t quite ready for prime time when shipping began.

WayTools have said countless times that they aren’t trying to make it perfect before it ships. Yes, current early adopter customers have to wait before they can experience the TextBlade unless they get accepted into TREG. But if your experience was ruined because they did decide to ship it now and fix it later like you’re asking for, at what point are you going to throw the TB into a drawer and never use it because it doesn’t do what you expected simply because the software fix for that hasn’t been sent.

General public accept such things every day. Just because the general public isn’t necessarily aware of the issues, doesn’t mean manufacturers aren’t. Devices are bought daily which shipped with known issues, later fixed in updates. This is what issue triage is for. At some point all the critical/blocker issues are fixed, you ship, and lower priority issues are fixed later in updates.

Updates exist to fix issues and add features. Whether the issues and features are known/planned when the hardware is shipped is unrelated. You triage them, and then ship with an acceptable level. You will never ship, if your goal is to ship with zero known issues, because with every change, there are still going to be new issues found. Even purely mechanical devices ship with known issues, because of variance in manufacturing. It’s why tolerance ranges exist in manufacturing specifications.

That’s great. But I’m not talking about what they said. I’m talking about what the actions and responses on here show. Saying “we’re not trying to make it perfect,” is like a magical phrase of manifest destiny. If you have to keep saying it, then your actions and words probably don’t fully align. It also makes no sense to go on saying how they’re not trying to make it perfect, but then also continuing to say it should ship with zero known issues.

It’s just a keyboard. A tool. It’s almost certainly not going to work for all use cases. For those use cases, there are other solutions. The product is “good enough” for most people who want the product, as it sits today, as far as I can see. There will always be a few people with their pet issues as extreme edge cases. Obviously it’s impossible to tell if I’m one, when I don’t have the ability to use the keyboard since it’s not shipping yet, except to a very few people for testing.

I didn’t start this thread to incite rants or arguments. I simply want to know if there are expected hardware changes or not, and if not, why can’t more people get their TextBlades and start using them.

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You’ve highlighted the current state here. ALL the critical/blocker issues haven’t yet been fixed.

How are we supposed to know that? Is there a transparently visible issue tracker where I can see what “issues” are blocking? How do I know if they will affect me or not? Are they going to require changes to hardware for any to be fixed? How is it determined that an issue is or is not a blocker?

Are you an employee @waytools? You seem to be making an assumption, without available data.

You “know” it because WT - the people with all the data have said they will ship when it reaches the level they want. They certainly have no reason to not do so. TREG testers, like the person you posted to, have seen some data from personal experience as well as comments from other testers that is sufficient enough to see why WT may not want to ship yet, even if they are personally satisfied with it. And we also know we only have a small portion of the data.

As for him “making assumptions “, no. But this is an assumption:

I’m not talking about what they said. I’m talking about what the actions and responses on here show. Saying “we’re not trying to make it perfect,” is like a magical phrase of manifest destiny. If you have to keep saying it, then your actions and words probably don’t fully align. It also makes no sense to go on saying how they’re not trying to make it perfect, but then also continuing to say it should ship with zero known issues

You just assume it must be good enough to ship. It may be. And it may not be. But WT sure hasn’t said it must be perfect or that there can’t be any known issues. Not shipping yet doesn’t mean what you assume it means.

As for hardware changes, it is certainly always good to have an update that include a comment like “ hardware continues to be solid so we are focused on firmware”. I’ve pushed for that info many times myself. And when they’ve addressed it, so far hardware continues to have a positive report.

I do wish they’d get this update out. 64 days since announcing it is too long.

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No. I’m simply trying to get a handle on the truth, and not sucked in by all the rants and nonsense. I’m not assuming anything, but trying to assess what the end result will actually be. I posted this thread under TechTalk for a reason.

The only thing I assume not shipping means, is not shipping. There is no assumption that WayTools has been pushing back the promised release date for three years now. That is plain fact. There is no assumption that they are trying to add new services and features. That has been stated plainly on this forum multiple times.

I am not assuming anything. i am simply asking some questions, and stating how the responses and actions so far, appear to be.

IMO, if the hardware has not changed for as long as you said it hasn’t, and there are no plans to revise it, at the very least it should be time for an Open Beta, rather than a closely guarded and such small set of testers. If there are still infrastructure problems (web site scalability, need of hiring more support staff, etc…) at this stage, that is something which lowers confidence in the product and company.

If the hardware isn’t changing, and the firmware is at the state where when I press keys on the keyboard, and those key presses are correctly sent to the host OS, and those key presses are not leaked to open air over blueooth, then IMO, it is good enough for a more open beta.

Again, I did not start this thread to argue with other people on the forum, or have them come in and rant.

Maybe @waytools or @support could instead reply to my original post?

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No, I am not an employee of WayTools. I am, however, a member of the TREG testing team.

I am not assuming anything. I have only been repeating what we have already been told by WayTools and some of the additional knowledge gained from having been testing the TextBlade. Only WayTools can decide if and when the TextBlade is ready to ship.

You seem to be the one assuming that if there are no hardware changes, the current firmware status doesn’t matter and that they should ship the hardware and simply do an OTA update to the firmware with no consequences. I’ve been trying to state that I don’t agree.

Where I do agree with you is that WayTools should provide more and better updates than they have been recently.

You seem to be assuming that I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve been shipping products for a couple decades now. It shouldn’t take so long to ship a product, unless you keep changing the product and introducing new problems for yourself, which you think keep you from shipping, because it’s never “good enough” in your own eyes, and you don’t let the customers you want decide if it’s good enough for themselves or not. SamuraiJack hits this nail on its head.

An artist is their own worst critic.

I’m not assuming anything. I did not claim the firmware status doesn’t matter. But again, if the current firmware was horribly broken, all you TREGs would know, and instead of making speculative comments as you have been, you could simply say “the current firmware is broken and seriously lacking” or some such, assuming there isn’t some crazy NDA preventing it. But if that were the case, I would expect https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=textblade to not have all the videos it does, from people who aren’t WayTools.

All I’m doing is asking some questions based on evidence, in the hope that WayTools can provide an answer.

No sir. I haven’t assumed anything about you. And honestly, I don’t care how many products you’ve shipped. The TextBlade is not your product so what you’ve done in the past or how you would handle this project has no impact which is why i’ve said that ONLY WayTools can decide when it is ready to ship. Every TREG tester in existance could group together and all say “We feel it’s ready to ship” but until WayTools agrees, that doesn’t mean a thing. This is their product and their company. Right or wrong, it is their decision and what you or anyone else that has been involved in shipping products for decades says should happen doesn’t really matter. Please don’t take that personally because it wasn’t intended as such. You and others may be right all along, but it really doesn’t matter unless WayTools decides that they are ready to ship their product.

Also, many TREG testers felt the same way as you did UNTIL they got into TREG and started using the unit. I’m pretty sure that they all agreed that it wasn’t quite ready for prime time and that WayTools was right to hold back.

It’s not that the firmware is “broken or seriously lacking”, it’s more a case of just not quite there yet. When the TextBlade works, it works unimaginably well, but there are still a few cases where something goes wrong which detracts from the experience and WayTools feels should be fixed before General Release. Mind you, the firmware fork WayTools have been working on to better enable mass public support could possibly allow you to consider the current firmware lacking I guess, but that would be a stretch.

I’m not saying that they should hold off forever. I’m also not saying that every known issue, minor or not, needs to be fixed before shipping. What I am saying is that no one but WayTools can decide when the TextBlade is ready.