Just a month after releasing Android Wear, Microsoft had been releasing special apps to back the wearable. Following the release of the OneNote app, the company has just revealed a prototype custom keyboard which allows the user to enter text on his smartwatch by drawing on its screen. The analog keyboard supports square-shaped screens that have a resolution of 320 by 320, and the screen of the Moto 360. Apart from drawing letters, the user can also draw numbers and special characters.

The analog keyboard project of Microsoft Research aims to change the way people communicate using their smartwatches. For one thing, software outfits such as Minuum had already created a way for users to type on a smartwatch. However, the tiny keys of the wearable give a frustrating feeling to the user. The other method of sending messages which is voice-powered has its own share of disadvantages as well. Some of the issues brought by using this method would include hit-or-miss voice recognition and the inconvenience of talking to one's watch when the user doesn't feel like talking at all.

The analog keyboard is a virtual type of keyboard that can be used for writing out messages. This can come in handy when the user wants to send private messages which are impossible to send by dictating them over to the device. Apart from writing and sending messages, the user can also perform some search on Google. Moreover, characters that can be tricky to dictate can just be drawn on the smartwatch. These would include the ampersand (&), the at sign (@) and the hash (#).

The team behind Microsoft Research explained why such type of keyboard is a better alternative in sending messages.

"It has been shown that some handwriting systems can be used without even looking at the screen. Finally, handwriting interfaces require very little design changes to run on round displays, which are becoming increasingly popular," said by the Microsoft Research team.

It's not clear if the analog keyboard can also recognize characters from languages other than English. The keyboard software can now be downloaded from the official site of Microsoft. It is compatible with the Gear Live and the Moto 360. However, it doesn't support watches with lower-resolution and those future round models.

The team is asking for real-world feedback to help them decide if the project is feasible for smartwatch texting in the future or it is just a temporary fad.

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