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The Dvorak simplified keyboard is optimised for low finger travel distance, leading to faster typing and less wrist pain compared to the Qwerty layout. On a smartphone, most people effectively only type with one finger, either by touching the letters or by swipe typing. Dvorak may therefore not be optimal for smartphone keyboards; see also this question on a swipe specific keyboard.

However, Dvorak also designed right-handed or left-handed single-hand keyboard layouts, such as this right-handed layout:

right-handid Dvorak

I would suspect that a single-handed keyboard layout is a better approximation of smartphone typing than a dual-handed keyboard layout. Has there been any research comparing the hand travel distance when "typing" (either by touching keys or by swiping) on a small touchscreen (such as a smartphone) using either Qwerty, normal Dvorak, single-handed Dvorak, or even a totally new layout optimised for smartphone usage?

Closely related: How to improve the smartphone keyboard layout?

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I haven't seen any personally, but I suspect there might be a couple of reasons for this:

  • For mobile devices there is a lot of focus on customizing for specific languages, so I think the motivation for the research is reduced because it is limited understanding the English keyboard
  • The way that Fitt's Law applies to the mobile devices with a much smaller display space and the accuracy of using fingertips or a stylus compared to a mouse is also different, and probably has less impact compared to other forms of interaction compared to desktop
  • In terms of a single-handed keyboard layout, I suspect that which hand is used for entering information is very context-sensitive, and therefore probably hard to try and customize for individual users, which would also make it hard to run studies for this
  • I think the most effective customizable of the mobile keyboard is changing the layout and display for standard use cases like using a number keypad (e.g. for credit card information or PIN number), or providing alternate input interfaces (e.g. swipe and connect the dots for screen unlock)
  • Another factor might also be the uptake of voice search based on the maturing technology for voice recognition in devices like Google Home Assistant or Siri
  • Finally, the increase in usage of QR Codes (and other ways of reducing input like tiny URLs) has also reduced the amount of effort required for users to type long strings of text on mobile

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