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Siine Keyboard: A unique, effective mobile keyboard

Find out why Jack Wallen thinks that once you've tried the Siine Keyboard, you'll have a hard time going back to the standard method of text input on your mobile device.

Let's face it, some of us spend more time correcting our smartphone typing than we do actual typing. Much of this is due to the small displays, which forces the keyboard keys to exist extremely close together. Many third-party keyboards have attempted to resolve this issue by trying different layouts, splitting the keyboard, and other (less useful) tricks. One keyboard, however, has taken a completely different approach.

Siine Keyboard is a dynamic keyboard with shortcuts (Siines) that make texting or typing much faster. It's likely very different than anything you've ever tried -- and once you get used to it, you won't want to use any other keyboard.

Features

  • Shortcuts for fully-customizable icons to enable super fast typing
  • Built-in clock and calendar to allow you to quickly add time and dates
  • Stress message screen for quick replies like: "Sorry, can't talk now. Call you right back."
  • Downloadable, pre-configured "sets"
  • Personalized emoticons
  • Delete text fast with the wiggle of your finger

At first blush, Siine Keyboard might seem like a standard keyboard. It isn't until you open up the Siine set that you realize it's something completely different. Let's take a closer look at this third-party keyboard solution.

Installation

Siine Keyboard is a free application. To install it, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store
  2. Search for "siine"
  3. Tap on the entry for Siine Keyboard
  4. Tap Install
  5. Tap Accept & download

Once it's installed, you'll find the Siine Keyboard launcher in your app drawer.

Setup

When you first run Siine Keyboard, you'll be prompted to enable the Siine Keyboard (Figure A). Figure A

Siine Keyboard on the Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy S III.

Tap the Enable now button, and you'll be taken to the Android "Locale and Text" screen. From that screen, tap to enable the Siine Keyboard, and then OK that choice. In the same screen, tap Select Input Method, and then select the Siine Keyboard option.

Now that Siine Keyboard has been enabled and selected, it's time to configure the app. In order to properly use the tool, you must download "sets" (Figure B). A "set" is a group of pre-configured icons that offer quick access to specific words. Figure B

Go through the quick tutorial to get an understanding of some of the basics of Siine Keyboard.

By tapping an icon from a "set," the word associated with the icon will automatically be entered as text.

To download sets, do the following:

  1. Open the app drawer
  2. Tap the Siine Keyboard launcher
  3. From the Siine Keyboard main window (Figure C), tap Siine Sets
  4. Tap The All sets tab (Figure B)
  5. Scroll through the various sets and download the one you like
Now that you have a set installed, tap Quick Setup from the main window (Figure C). Figure C

Go through the quick Tutorial to get an understanding of some of the basics of Siine Keyboard.

In the Quick Setup, you'll add your full name and a nickname for yourself. This allows you to quickly add your name into texts and such. That is all Quick Setup is used for.

Tap Settings from the main window to make the following configurations:

  • Autocomplete enable/disable
  • Word Correction enable/disable
  • Word Correction Settings (enable shortcuts for words and add custom word corrections)
  • Vibration enable/disable

If you use the Word Correction feature, I highly recommend going into the Word Correction Settings window to set up shortcuts for words that you use often and create your own custom corrections.

Usage

Now it's time to use Siine Keyboard. At first, this might seem a bit awkward. Eventually, however, you'll come to rely on the various features of this keyboard. Here's how it's used.

When you open an application that requires the keyboard (like the Messaging app), you'll first be presented by a normal-looking keyboard (Figure D). Figure D

A fairly standard looking keyboard for a mobile device.
If you tap on the little hand icon in the bottom left of the keyboard, you'll reveal the the Siine Sets that were downloaded (Figure E). To enter text, all you do is tap an icon to add the associated text to the conversation (or whatever it is you're using). Each icon can have up to three word (or phrase) associations. To access the alternate words (or phrases), tap the icon again until the correct word (or phrase) appears in the text window. Figure E

I'm texting myself. How fun is that?

If you tap the hand icon again, you'll reveal even more icons. You can even slide the horizontal rows to the left and right for more. But that's not all. You can even create your own icon with three different word or phrase associations. Here's how:

  1. Slide one of the horizontal rows to the left to reveal the Create button
  2. Tap the Create button
  3. Tap the square at the top of the new window (Figure F) to add an image for the icon
  4. Enter a name for the icon
  5. Enter the first, second, and third text lines (these can be phrases)
  6. Tap Save
Figure F

You can use pics from your gallery or take a photo directly from your phone's camera.

Say, for example, you created an icon for your boss. You could enter three names for your boss:

  • Jenkins
  • Mr. Jenkins, sir
  • Bumbleklutz

To add "Jenkins" to a text, tap the icon associated with the text once. To add "Mr. Jenkins, sir" to the text, tap the icon twice. To add "Bumbleklutz" to the text, tap the icon three times.

There are tons more features to this handy third-party keyboard. Once you become familiar with how Siine Keyboard works, you'll have a hard time going back to the standard method of text input on your mobile device.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

7 comments
Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

What ever happened to the idea of using a phone for VOICE communication with the person intended, it's so much more personal and can carry a lot more information quickly? Anyway, I use my phone for voice only, it's so much more convenient that way!

CharlesG1970
CharlesG1970

Well Jack says he likes it so I might give it a try, but I tend to agree with the above comments. I can swype through most words pretty fast. A lot easier then having to open a menu of icons, learn/remember where there icons are (beyond the 8 on the initial screen), remember what phrase is associated with what icon. Might be a good addition for technical terms, but swype has the ability to add words to the dictionary is pretty good at recognizing when you swype them out.

mike.laing
mike.laing

Thanks, Jim! I had that way back on an HTC Diamond +, or whatever it was, with Windows 6. It was pretty fast, and quite good at picking out my crappy handwriting. Sounds like it is available on your phone (although swipe is pretty fast) but I never hear of this much. Should be better these days with dual cores and 1200 Mz. I'm not to sure about this Siine, though. You're right, Jim, it sure looks like it might only be feasible for a few well used stock phrases. By the time you look for an icon and pick one of the phrases, unless it is quite long, wouldn't it just be better to type the words?

jonatan.jebr
jonatan.jebr

Doesn't seem to be very convenient for anything other than quick phrases, or if using multiple languages. I would recommend anyone looking for a keyboard to try SwiftKey, it is scary how well it can predict what you are typing even in multiple languages without having to switch between them.

Jim Johnson
Jim Johnson

Looks like it would work great if you mostly communicate in stock phrases you only need to tweak. Swype is still my friend ... especially the latest version that offers traditional keyboard, traditional Swype, hand written letters (sort of like the 2nd generation Palm) and speech.

kcbaltz
kcbaltz

SwiftKey is even faster than Swype for me and once you get used to using the predictions, it's pretty quick. BTW, for a laugh, start a new text message and just start pressing the middle suggestion it offers to see the funny phrase it will build based on your typing history.