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Type ahead fields are convenient in desktop applications, but what is the best alternative in a touch screen "kiosk" environment. We need to utilize the Windows OS keyboard and it becomes cumbersome when a user needs to move the keyboard to view the Type-Ahead drop down list.

What would be the best solution? Nix the type-ahead field all together or possible display those results in another location?

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Today it is commonplace to just drop live search suggestions on websites for mobile. Take a look at two examples, both Yahoo! and Bing.

Bing

No suggestions.

Yahoo!

Yahoo! does the same.

In most cases, this makes the most sense, especially on phones, since your room is greatly diminished.

However, you could take a "think different" approach, and do something odd. Similar to what Firefox Mobile does.

Firefox Mobile

Here, you see Firefox puts up results in little bubbles, so you could take a similar idea and add them right above a search field, making it so keyboards do not affect it. In addition, Sylar has a point on Windows keyboards, so you should examine that. Basically though, I would ditch a list-view and do something a little more out of the box. Moving the results somewhere is probably your best choice, just make it easily accessible.

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  • Thank you for the suggestions and the screenshots, they have helped in thinking about "other" ways of displaying the type-ahead results! Mar 6, 2013 at 16:34
  • @guarddoggraphics, Cool. I'm glad it helped!
    – Josiah
    Mar 6, 2013 at 17:00
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First of all, the on screen keyboard of the windows OS, itself has a type ahead field.

I typed "t" followed by "y" on my on screen keyboard and here is what I got,

On screen Keyboard image

As you can see, there is a full type ahead suggestions on the top layer.

Anyhow, if you are implementing your own, then I would suggest you to use a similar design. Instead of having a drop down for text prediction/type ahead, you can use horizontal scroll bar to display options for text prediction/type ahead. (as in the keyboard example above or as you would typically see in your mobile).

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  • Thanks for the suggestion, unfortunately the onscreen type-ahead does not work too will with names or custom fields that are being read from a database. I like the idea of a horizontal scroll bar! Mar 6, 2013 at 16:33

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