How to type on an Apple watch

Behold Lunate, an intriguing swipe-based system for typing on an Apple watch. You can try it out yourself right now by downloading the Lunate app on an Iphone or Ipad.

It'll be interesting to see what sort of text-input systems emerge for Apple's watch. I suspect people will want them.

I probably would. Two years ago while writing a piece about wearables, I briefly wore a Metawatch STRATA. It wasn't bad, and it somewhat fulfilled one of the promises of smartwatches — i.e. that they can, in theory, allow you to leave your phone in your pocket/bag/purse more often, because you can glance at your wrist when a message comes in. To avoid the "overalert" problem, I configured my Metawatch to only display text messages (but not email), and to display tweets only from the one or two people I wanted to follow closely that day.

That kept the message flow to a reasonable level, and it let me settle into a nice routine: I'd leave Twitter closed on my laptop and my phone in my bag. With Twitter closed while I was doing work, I was less tempted to fall into an hour-long twitterhole. But because the watch was pinging me a few times an hour with tweets from one or two specific people (usually my wife and a friend), I had that nice ambient sense of what those folks were doing. It was a crude smartwatch way of setting up a multi-screen situation that, as I wrote about for Wired a few months ago, I've seen more and more people adopt. Most of the time the messages I was glancing at weren't ones I wanted or needed to reply to.

But! Occasionally there would be a message that required a quick reply, and that's when the whole system sort of fell apart — because there's no way to type full messages on the Metawatch. It wasn't hard to pull out my phone (or fire up Twitter on my laptop), but it sort of defeated the purpose of keeping those environments shut down or tucked away. I know various smartphones allow you send back canned, one-button replies to incoming messages, but since I still mostly tend to think of myself as a human being and not a chatbot, I don't like sending canned replies.

It may be that voice dictation becomes quickly viable on the Apple watch, with audio squirted to and fro between the watch and the phone. (I voice-dictate probably 80% of all text I write on my phone.) But just as there are people who still want physical keyboards on smartphones, there'll likely be people who want some way to type on a Apple watch.

In the meanwhile, there are a bunch of interesting systems for typing on alternate smartwatch systems. For Android Wear, Microsoft made an app where you handwrite letters one by one with your fingertip:

Or there's the Minuum system for Android, too:

There's a system for typing on Pebble Watches, called PebbleMorse:

I first heard about Lunate in December, when I ran into the inventor, Howard Gutowitz; I'd interviewed him waaaayyyy back in 2001, when I first wrote about about the difficulty of writing emails and texts on twelve-button phone keypads!