8pen Android keyboard

We're always on the lookout for new Android keyboards, and a few of you have pinged us on one that looks very  interesting. The 8pen keyboard is a gesture-based keyboard, which is kind of like Swype in that you move your finger around instead of pecking at keys -- but it's also very different in that you don't have a traditional keyboard layout.

We're going to take this bad boy for a spin and see how it goes. In the meantime, check out the promo video after the break. [the8pen.com]

There are 57 comments

dlaur14 says:

looks difficult, and would definitely take a lot of getting used to.

vmcc says:

I downloaded 8pen last night and worked with it for a few hours. It's surprisingly easy to get used to, and I think it's a great idea, but I'm way faster on swype (at least currently).
After watching James Kendrick's video over at Gigaom, I downloaded Ultra Keyboard. After using it for a bit I'm sure that this will be the keyboard I stay with. It's very powerful and very well done!


mmark27 says:

That's a pretty radical keyboard. I will bet the learning curve to where letters are placed is pretty steep since everyone is trained to think QWERTY layout. It is attractive though that you could eventually have a keyboard with just a dot in the center, thus confusing the heck out of anyone that tries to type anything on it.....I'm interested to hear your review. I'll give it a whirl.

Lyanheart says:

This reminds me of the old video of the "new" macbook that replaced the keyboard with an ipod scroll wheel

dbarnes2270 says:

Seems to be the next evolution in text input. Looks cool, interested to see how its accepted.

rugbyua9 says:

Im still confused after watching that video a couple times. Guess that means I need more coffee.

jedisrus says:

I guess if this was how you first learned how to input text it could be intuitive. Right now it seems complicated!

Mike77 says:

Just tap into our brains already! Whats the holdup!

Papadakis says:

Doesn't look like something I'll be using anytime soon

manveru1986 says:

Oh come on! Who wan't to learn something new to use just a phone? And what if someone is writing in two languages? Needs to learn two 8pen layouts,,, and what if writes in... 5 lngs? I think swype is better, you need only learn how to "write" your words... not whole layout.

BoNg420 says:

Then this keyboard would not be for you. Just something new and innovative, why not give it a try before bashing it.

Jonneh says:

You do bring up one great point though...I type in Japanese/Chinese sometimes, so I wonder how I could do that with this..constantly switch keyboards i guess.

What. The. Heck.

mkampy says:

this is probably what our children will be using in the future. I am intrigued, and I may try it just to see how steep the learning curve is.

kjparfekt says:

Their own commercial shows their fatal flaw... "intuitive and easy to learn" you don't have to "learn" things that are intuitive. Swype, or Blind Type both seem like the intuitive mainstream solutions. If the point is speed, looks like swype is a better keyboard. If the point is not needing the users attention then blind type wins. This keyboard is behind both of those existing keyboards both of which won't need users to memorize a new key layout.

dray_jr#IM says:

yea i dont think this is going to last not really a fan of it at all but i will give it a try why not i give it 5 mins and i am sick of it i love the slideit keyboard and the stock one.

BlackHawkA4 says:

can we get it yet? I wanna try it.

raygunc says:

looks promising. i get it!

keld says:

sweet, can't wait tomorrow to try it, i hate the keyboard on the evo when in portrait mode, i can't type, keep missing the buttons with my big fingers...

As one prone to early adoption, I would be willing to give it a try. However, this seems akin to the ergonomic keyboards that have around for a while. Interesting, maybe even better, but not widely used. I kept trying to see how this would be better/easier than Swype. Though there is a bit of training to get used to moving one finger around an entire keyboard, Swype works, for me at least, because it builds upon an existing comfort with QWERTY. This 8Pen keyboard appears to require a rethinking (read reprogramming) of how we type. I think this would present an adoption hurdle by those who move back-and-forth from mobile devices to full-sized keyboards--which is most people.

ro1224 says:

Heck. I'll give it a whirl or is that a swirl? If I could learn the Palm stylus character recognition and Swype's configuration I should be able to learn this one too. :-)

SlappyMcgee says:

According to the8pen.com its 2.2 and up. 1.6+ coming soon. :( cant test it on my captivate :(

mattchew86 says:

This looks like fun. Since I can't get swype on my dinc, I think I'll try this out.

oscarahj says:

Try Ultra Keyboard. It's Swype-ish.

crxssi says:

And so is Shapewriter

AVS says:

Radical! Eager to try it out tomorrow.

ima_unc_fan says:

I'll try....but I don't believe I'll like it. Typing is when I prefer my work Blackberry. It's just easy. No learning. You just type.

dwolf says:

Finally I can compose text messages with my penis....

BlackHawkA4 says:

I may want to try that too. Lol!

RonD says:

You and Brett Farve! Or you can just send a pic.

vmcc says:

Luckily, the keys are small and close together!

jonnyl says:

Looks like a lot of extraneous motion.

I use swype now on my hero and love it... But I think I'll give this a go just for kicks. If nothing else it'll give me something to do at work tomorrow ;-)

stoneworrior says:

This spam filter is pissing me off. Great this made it through???

garciajbj says:

Seems like a lot of people are hesitant to try this, but I'm really excited for it. It seems to be very intuitive and should increase typing speed if one would take the time to learn it. And I don't think it would pose problems to jump between this format and regular qwerty, just like people don't have a problem speaking two languages. You just need to take the time to learn the format and let your brain get accustomed to both.

Paladin says:

I don't know... I now have to count how many letters up it is then count how many sections I pass when circling with my finger? Seems counter intuitive to me. Maybe if you spent a LOT of time with it you could get used to it but I think it would take longer than most people would be willing to do.

I will say this is a nice try but a FAIL. :)

DarknesSx says:

For me, this isn`t just innovative, it`s absolutely the coolest funnest most enjoyable way of writing :D
ever since i got Swype i just wanna write EVERYTHING xD my Facebook became a Life Story lol my notes became Books shelve xD and some of my FRs filtered my E-mails due to the HUGE Quantity. JUST IMAGINE WHAT I`M GONNA DO WITH THIS 8PEN DrawBoard <

droidgeek says:

Seems a little complicated but like anything else, could be a good thing when finally mastered. I'm willing to give it a whirl.

zakth says:

It looks intimidating but I am going to give it a try tomorrow when it is released. Cannot hurt to try and maybe it will be a lot better once you are use to typing on it.

YoungChrisG says:

I say fail. Hast thou forgotst Google's acquisition of blindtype? They seem pretty hard to beat lol.

komeisa says:

Very cool, I will be trying this out when it comes out. Did anyone see anything in the video that would allow for a similiar experience to the left, right, up & down keys? I know I find those to be very useful and would miss them if they were gone.

crxssi says:

What a nightmare. I can't imagine anyone is going to be willing to try and learn such a proprietary system then actually use it. At least it is creative.

gt3dan says:

i'll stick with swype. still the easiest aside from voice-to-text

crxssi says:

Why is Swype easier than Shapewriter?

hoonaynay says:

Apparently graduating with honors and two degrees means absolutely nothing when it comes to understanding this demonstration. What the hell did I just watch?

zakth says:

I would like to try Swype but sadly it's not available to many people right now... unless I just don't know where to look for it.

Corey says:

I'm in. It took a bit to get used to Swype, but now it's all I use. I think intuitive is being a little too kind. It looks like it may be a steeper learning curve, but I might spend a day or four using it exclusively to see if it grows on me. If not, uninstall. Not a big deal.

imarx says:

Not sure how this is superior to the Swype paradigm. With Swype it's essentially one gesture per word, whereas this keyboard is one gesture per letter. Granted, the gestures don't change so theoretically once you learned the gestures you could move pretty fast, but it still seems like it would be difficult to get fast enough to match something like Swype.

skatejake says:

i just wanna know when blindtype will freakin come out!

this looks difficult to learn, but i will definitely be trying it tomorrow.

zakth says:

Good point. I downloaded ShapeWriter but sadly it's no longer being updated - but it's a lot faster than the standard keyboard for sure. Hoping for Swype to be released soon.

ttk1opc says:

WTF? How is this fast? Reminds me of a rotary phone!

zakth says:

Blind Type was bought by Google so it's something we might not see for some time if at all.

AbeFrohman says:

8pen is now on the market for all 1.6 and up devices.

No voice input for now.

No free trial. $1.58 USD

Ethame says:

I sure would like to see a free demo...I know $1.58usd is not much, but I'd also hate to spend it on something I don't want to use.

gmonkey88 says:

I totally agree, it would be nice to have a free trial period to see if this is something i would actually use.
I'm testing it right now, and i have to say, this is going to take me a long time to master.

Rotary dial text entry/ prediction on my phone? Pass.

I'll stick with Swype and Swiftkey

smccloud says:

I'd love to try this, but I can't since my LG Optimus S can't see any protected apps yet :(