The iPhone & TextBlade

Not cancelling my order, simply placing everything into perspective:

[NOTE: Apple does have a lot more money and gigantic R&D/testing division]

The original iPhone went from a mission statement in 2002 to the hands of consumers within 5 years, all created from custom built hardware driven by their own, specially designed SoC solution. It changed the phone industry, and the world as the first true modern smartphone. All of this was accomplished with 13+ year old technology.

The TB was announced with a “very soon” release date nearly 4 years ago. Even without the huge R&D budget, hardware and manufacturing has come a long way.

This leafs me to a few items of concern:

  1. 4 years ago the basic TB design and prototypes were fully working, according to the original WT site, with videos. To me that says there were legit demo products, accompanying software, and ability to load firmware changes. Over the last 4 years, we’ve seen countless hardware iterations, for the better.

  2. While head and shoulders above other portable keyboards since it’s more than that, some of the features added to the TB over time have existed in $15 keyboards years before the original TB announcement. A great example, causing a lot of information overload and problems, was the addition of multiple BT connections. Both my portable and backup desktop-sized keyboards were running smoothly at least 1-2 years before the TB had this added. Key remapping is provided through any modern OS, even on phones - using built-in tools or plethora of aftermarket software works like a champ. Granted, it doesn’t save the settings to the keyboard, but (oversimplified) the only difference is keeping the settings in non-volatile storage onboard the which passes customizations to each device with the processor. Between the keyboard that slides into my pocket and my desktop one, the total cost for both foreign-built (Chinese) keyboards was less than $40. I’ve yet to experience issues with BT switching, no matter how fast switching between my iPhone, iPad, computer, TV, etc.

  3. The hardware should, for all practical purposes, be finalized (assumption) according to the 7+ month old major update. That leaves remaining changes in the firmware/software realm.

  4. As a programmer, analyst, and developer of over 22 years, for a non-Apple sized company to release hardware on this level and expect 100% operational capacity from day 1 is a tall order. I’ve followed the 80/20 rule while developing; otherwise, any code written would take years, countless man-hours, and money. According to semi-recent posts, WT is north of 90% - an amazing feat with 4 years of hardware upgrades and the development team size.

Getting to my point: it seems like sending orders to those of us OKAY dealing with an occasional issue

I apologize for this rant and understand a few points were oversimplified, but really think those of us who ordered quite a long while back would work PR wonders.

Doubt this’ll change anything, just felt the need to suggest it as a potential solution. If the estimated GR is many months out, and there’s no unreleased SERIOUS issue, please consider greatly increasing the TREG group size.

Here’s to getting the TextBlade sooner, rather than later!
Ian

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@trance79 just a minor factual correction. It’s been nearly 5 years and not 4 years. I purchased mine by the end of Jan/2015 and I did that after watching the same videos you mentioned. I believe TB started accepting orders around mid Jan/2015.

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This is my biggest issue with WayTools. They are the worst at time estimates. Then they make decision based on those lousy estimates.

It could be years till general release. But my guess is that WayTools time estimates would be February or March.

I think if WayTools made better time estimates they would make very different decision.

I wholeheartedly agree on the timeline estimates. Personally having that as an huge part of my job, sitting down, planning roadmaps, accounting for inevitable problems, and handing final numbers to a client within a matter of days/weeks is required.

Thanks for the correction about 5 years, Eros. I was thinking it’d been 4, but your right… I got mine ordered, I believe, that July. My math was definitely off.

I’ve prototyped complex synthesizer hardware from scratch, from PCB design, writing 100% custom software for ARM chips, .NET embedded, PIC, etc., and had devices ready for manufacturing runs within a few months… all using my free time after work.

With multiple people dedicated to a touch sensitive keyboard that gathers existing technology and wraps it all into a nice, neat package is no small undertaking. OTOH, it’s not a 5+ Year rollercoaster, either.

There’s a point where manufacturers say “It’s plenty good enough, we’ll knock out remaining issues in GR”; otherwise, nobody would ever release anything. WT passed that point at least 2.5-3 years ago.

There’s objectively no reason for these delays with working prototypes over 5 years ago. The only explanation I can come up with is nothing is actually happening with it except for a few hours of free time every couple months. The novel-length “updates” given make it look like progress, but digging into what they are saying, well, they read like a bunch of error logs encountered during testing.

Sorry for the negativity, but with the number of people initially, and still, investing, this hardware should be in our hands quite a long time ago.

EDIT: Caught a link to a keyboard with multiple layers that acts as a trackpad. From responses, it feels like WT is focusing on that perfect release instead of 99% perfect release. There were reams of speculation why it’d be an horrible keyboard, yet no one has used it. I think long time purchases of the TB fall into two categories: will wait and do anything it takes to get the TB
-OR-
(Like me) sit back and to see if this thing ever comes out since the money has already come out if accounts many years ago.

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Interesting, though I disagree with some stuff.

Are you sure? It may be, but there is an element that may affect that timeline which may - or may not - be included in that 5 years. From what I read, Apple was working on a tablet device when Jobs decided to move the tech to the iphone. So, was that “mission statement” measuring from the point they decided co focus on the iphone or from the point they first started work on the tablet, which started sooner?

I don’t think that has been the issue. Well, it could be an issue, but not one that they or testers have talked about. For quite some time it has been about the firmware side.

That depends on what you mean by “fully working”. The first treggers immediately found serious issues that didn’t work well at all! I think they did “work” for those inside WT because one of the things we discovered in treg was that many problems came from the different way people typed - far more complicated than people realized, imo. Things that wouldn’t show up on a traditional keyboard, but would with the TB multi-character per key cap design. Anyway, once they could see the problem, they could fix it quickly in most cases. So, back in 2015, they had seemingly solved the problems found by their users. Turns out they needed more users to expose more differences.

Well, I don’t think the similarities are what matters. But even in those cases, such as the switching to different devices, there were some noteworthy differences in the TB. For example, while I certainly don’t know every BT keyboard out there, what I found was that most that allowed more than one pairing would only allow 2. I think the most I found was 3. The TB allows 6.

Now, I know some people will say they don’t need that and maybe they don’t. But I suspect that some people who don’t think they do will, once they have it, find having more is a good thing.

For example, like me they decide it is much nicer to type on the TB so they will want to use it in places they don’t even think about now. Or they may decide have more than one layout for the same device to cover different needs (I’m looking to see what I can do with gaming layouts so that could be a lot).

Anyway, a lot of people will have various combinations of phone, tablet, computer. Especially 2 out of those 3. And if they use it at their work computer, you could have 3 out of 4. I have a dongle from WT in one slot, to cover any situation where I’m not allowed to pair to a computer. And, frankly, I like to keep one slot open for any unexpected usage, such if visiting a friend. I could use a spot I use at home and then re-pair it again when I get back home, but nicer to have a free spot.

Also, in my case, I use dvorak. So it can be nice, if someone else wants to use it, to have a slot set up for qwerty.

My usage needs are probably more than average, but it basically comes down to pairing to my phone, ipad mini, ipad pro, 2 desktop computers, and the dongle. That’s 6.

Another thing is that the switch to other devices is pretty fast. Again, I don’t know about all other keyboards, but I’ve seen reports of changing devices taking 30 seconds! That may or may not be an extreme case, but it apparently does exist.

I’d certainly love to see more in treg if they aren’t shipping soon. But I’m also sure the number will be limited to what WT thinks is enough people to discover any issues, but not so many that they get too much feedback to properly keep up with.

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Hey dabigkahuna,

Thanks for your response. Let me try my best to address the points you bring up.

(In reference time iPhone dev time)

Here’s a link with timeline, including the tangent to develop a tablet. While it’s Quora, it’s the clearest and most concise iPhone development path. Other sources back this up when you search around:

(In reference to my praise for WT R&D)

By R&D I’m including firmware/software as it’s all part of the research and development process. I should’ve fully qualified that statement so it didn’t sound like hardware, alone.

I wholeheartedly agree. My point was “non-in the-wild” tested hardware existed before orders were taken. We are right at 5 years since then. Getting hardware into the hands of users is certainly a crucial step in testing. It’s the final part required for shaking out bugs before shipping any release hardware. With (hopefully) only firmware changes left, and a long TREG program, it should be past time to put these devices in the hands of GR, or at least a MUCH expanded TREG group.

In my experience, the cheaper keyboards correctly stated the number of BT devices: 3 for the foldable, pocket size, and 4 for the desktop one I own. Can’t say how common it is to falsely advertise. That’s why I generally stick with ordering products from large websites which accept returns, no questions asked. The keyboards I own, and others my friends have bought, all match specifications.

I’m right on par with your usage needs: Pocket one is for iPhone, iPad, and Samsung TV. Larger is for work, 2 home computers, and second iPad Pro. It’ll be nice to have all these connecting to the same TB.

I feel sorry for anyone forced to use a keyboard That takes nearly 30 seconds to switch, much less more than 5 or 10. No matter how cheap, expensive, or target device, everything I’ve used swaps in about 1 second.

As you mentioned, DVORAK or alternate keyboard layouts aren’t common. All modern OS’, including phones & tablets, can switch between layouts within a couple clicks/taps; HOWEVER, not needing to switch is fantastic. That’s where utilizing the on-board memory & processor is a thoughtful addition beyond the normal things for which they’re needed.im looking forward to storing a DVORAK layout… I hear it’s much faster to type with.

I also look forward to getting my TextBlade. Think my order is nearing 4.5 years. Because the money is already invested, it’s now a waiting game. Not even thinking of requesting a refund!

The point of all this is WT silence needs to end, and development has taken quite a long time for the amount of investors. At this point in TREG, my assumption is all firmware updates are pushed to the devices or a link to download & update is emailed.

Beyond the 5+ years of development, my biggest concern is lack of follow through on promises. Take the June 2019 Major update. WT said they weren’t going to make the date, instead stated it’d be 2 days later. 2 days came and another excuse and now it’s end of year with no major update… and that’s with many more apologies and promises made in another thread.

Follow through and transparency is what we need - good OR bad. Silence is deafening right now. A simple list of KEY items is enough - see any app version update on iOS or similar in Google Play. Posting what amounts to largely duplicated information and error logs is only interesting to an handful of purchasers.

My suggestion is to create a new update page for the quick and to the point info posted weekly, monthly, etc - on any revolving timeframe. Leave the current page and rename it “Technical Updates”.

The thread where a TREG user was accosted in a restaurant and finally saw “the other side” for non-TREG purchasers (what that guy did was HORRIBLY inappropriate)? He nailed one of the biggest problems. He even clearly pointed out a minor graphic issue on the site needing correction multiple times over months… not sure if that’s even fixed (might be, not trying to make a fakes statement). As a web application developer for over 20 years, the item in question would’ve taken a beginner minutes to an hour, max, to resolve.

Another great point, and this is HUGE: people are moving away from keyboards and using alternate ways to interact with computers. A fear of mine is WT scrapping current TB design and adding direct integration with Amazon, Google, Apple, or custom text-to-speech processor. Either way, the market for high end keyboards is shrinking year over year. As a developer, I gotta type. As a home user for devices like Apple TV? Well, Siri is more convenient.

Seeing and hearing from WayTools is what >I< want for Christmas. :slight_smile:

On that note, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!!

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I don’t see a link, but that’s okay. It can be very tricky sometimes to know when work was started on something, unless the people actually doing it give the info. I don’t know when TB work started, but I found a patent that goes back to, I think, 2012. Been awhile since I researched it, but it had to do with butterfly keys. There were people claiming Apple came up with it first in their patents. Well, they were the first to use that terminology, but WT had an earlier patent which described a similar approach.

No problem. That’s what clarification is for!

Well, I look at it a little differently. While I’d love to see more in treg, it is still going to come down to how many WT feels it can handle.

I must not have made myself clear. I wasn’t referring to keyboards claiming to be able to pair to more devices than they actually could. Just how many others offered compared to the TB. I never ran into one with 4, but even that is less than the TB now and is apparently going to be far less than what TB will add later. As for speed of switching, that is based on just some comments I’ve seen from people on the subject. No idea what is the norm.

Yes, it is much better to not have to switch layouts on the computer itself. For example, if I connect to a different computer, I don’t have to worry about changing their setup and forgetting to set it back to what they had! And I can customize my layout rather than be limited to the standard options a computer may offer.

Some studies have supposedly shown that there isn’t differences in speed on dvorak, etc. But I think they are faulty. The ones I saw only seemed to consider speeds up to something like 70 wpm but that tells us nothing about whether some layouts make it more likely more people can type faster on certain layouts. But it was interesting that they found people who type a lot, even with 2-4 fingers, could get really good speeds!

For me, after working hard on qwerty when I first learned to touch type, I definitely found that switching to dvorak let me type faster while practicing hard but, more importantly, if I didn’t type much for a long time, when I went back to it, I retained more of my speed than I did with qwerty.

However, even if qwerty was equal, dvorak (and colemak) are less stressful and that is worth a lot all by itself.

No disagreement there!

As I recall, the June 2018 update didn’t contain as much new info as prior updates. And it may be that the prior one (February 2018, I think) wasn’t too big either. But it’s been a long time so I may have forgotten.

[quote=“trance79, post:7, topic:5831”]
WT said they weren’t going to make the date, instead stated it’d be 2 days later.

Actually, in that update they said that more would be coming “soon”. At various times since then they have said things like, “next week”, “a few days”, etc. I documented everything since June 20, 2018 in this thread:

This also includes various comments they have made since that time in posts which could be considered “update info”. But still not the bigger update we’ve been waiting for.

There are certainly things to be concerned about. But there are so many problems with some of these other “solutions” to typing.

Talking via Siri or any similar method is not good in a noisy environment or if you don’t want people to hear what you are writing. There are also all kinds of problems with word choices (typically grammar) and don’t even try to speak Hawaiian names! Then you can add the more difficult flow of words. At least that’s what I’ve experienced. When typing, I can be typing one thing and at the same time be thinking of the next words. And if I do pause to think, it doesn’t cause any problems. But when speaking, I’ll have a lot of hesitations, and “uhs”, etc. And I do not feel I can speak and think ahead as smoothly.

Now, it could well be that people who come up using Siri from the start may not have this problem. What worries me more is how the language may change. Language always changes, but if using things like Siri led to losing the common usage of “their”, “there”, “they’re”, etc, it would seem like a dumbing down of the language.

Another problem is that they seem to get really arsey and unprofessional when people who have given the money expect something in return!

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Thanks for the responses, I believe we are basically on the same page. My main concern is while, yes, this is a new way to type, it feels like the GR should’ve hit a while back.

BTW, sorry for missing that link about iPhone dev:
https://www.quora.com/How-long-did-it-take-Apple-to-design-the-first-iPhone

As mentioned, I’m still sitting back and waitIng for a delivery from WT, hopefully sooner rather than later.

My biggest concern is still lack of communication. The initial GR delivery dates came and went with no word (that I’ve seen).

The second was mentioned in another thread: there’s about to be a new Bluetooth hardware version. As WT is pushing the envelope, it’s not too hard to speculate they’ll wait to add it, perform another round of TREG, and release sometime in early/mid 2021. Oh course, that’s all speculation. Nothing would make me happier in regards to the TB seeing shipments this spring.

Thank you again for summarizing all of the post and your thoughts. I think we both came away gleaning new information.

Ian

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Yep, we pretty much agree.

Don’t know about the new BT hardware. Key issues would be compatibility which would break down like this to me:

WT puts BT5 in the TB - but can it still work with older BT on devices? If not, it would seem to be a mistake to come out with a device that will not work with hardly anything now on the market. It would take too many years for people to upgrade there other devices to the new bluetooth.

Right now, anything has to be compatible with BT-LE, but most are. For computers that are not, there is the dongle which will still let you connect to those computers.

I assume the new BT, when on a computer, phone or tablet would still accept input from older BT devices so I figure that isn’t a problem.

Now, if there are no additional compatibility issues, then there is still the question of whether they should do it. I’d generally say “No”. I would expect it would delay things further. The only reason I could imagine doing so would be if the new BT was a lot more stable. If this is still a big issue, then they may opt to solve it by upgrading.

The new BT may take less energy - and that’s a good thing. But the power lasts long enough as is so, while more is better, let that wait for a later version.

Yeah, BT 4LE works with most anything made after 2012. I even added a $5 USB dongle to a 2011 MBP for compatibility, as you suggest.

BT5 is fully backwards compatible, uses less power, has twice the speed, and ranges out to 120 meters vs 30 meters with BT 4LE. Most devices in the last 2 years (eg iPhone X and Galaxy S8 series) already have it. To gain all those benefits, the IoT device needs to have a BT 5 chip, too - that’s where the market is lacking right now.

Even with all that, I’m with you 100% that the TB needs to stick with all current hardware, especially BT, and release a “2.0” version years from now with all the current and upcoming tech innovations.

I’m certainly ready to type messages like this with a TB instead on the iPhone keyboard (even more that they added swipe input support many years too late).

Have a great week!
Ian

BT5 may be backwards compatible, but if a TB can’t get the device it is connected to to work with it, that would be a non-starter to me.

Less power wouldn’t matter much at this point. Greater speed wouldn’t either for a keyboard as far as I know. Greater range also probably doesn’t matter. Who is going to type on a screen that is 120 meters away!

There is, of course, always the question of whether all the hardware is the same or not - considering how it may be tough to get some parts that are now over 5 years old! But this is out of my experience. The things they use, even if “dated” may still be available in very large numbers.