ThingThing Is An iOS Keyboard That Shortcuts App Switching
Now that it’s been a yr and alter since Apple revealed it might be opening up entry to the system broad keyboard in iOS we’re seeing some fairly fascinating stuff happening proper inside the keyboard. No, not GIF keyboards; one thing much more fascinating.
Builders are beginning to view the keyboard as a productiveness platform in and of itself, which can be utilized to shortcut the method of sharing different kinds of content material cellular customers may want entry to as they compose messages, emails and different missives on the go.
One instance I coated just lately is ReBoard: a keyboard app which launched late final month and consists of a command key that can be utilized to entry different third celebration apps — resembling YouTube — proper inside the keyboard itself.
Calendar app Dawn additionally launched an iOS keyboard earlier this yr (Meet) that lets customers schedule conferences proper inside the keyboard interface — so with out having to hop out to the complete-fats calendar app.
Properly right here’s one other contender for the productiveness-targeted keyboard pile: Barcelona-based mostly bootstrapping ThingThing Keyboard, which sums up what its keyboard app is aiming to realize with the slick tag-line: ‘Change much less. Do extra’.
At this early stage (it additionally launched in August) it’s not truly providing a Qwerty keyboard, though co-founder and CEO Olivier Plante says that’s subsequent on their dev record. So for now it performance is restricted to app switching, counting on customers to toggle (by way of the iOS globe key icon) to the native iOS keyboard in the event that they need to sort stuff (or no matter different keyboard they like to make use of).
What can the ThingThing keyboard do proper now? It lets customers hyperlink a number of accounts for different apps and providers to offer an in-keyboard shortcut once they need to examine on one thing like their availability (by way of calendar integration), or seize a doc (by way of Dropbox), or a photograph (from their digital camera roll) to incorporate within the missive they’re composing.
Level is messaging on cellular is large, so something that reduces friction round content material sharing by way of the cellular keyboard is probably going to seek out followers.
The present model of ThingThing lets customers hyperlink the iOS calendar and photographs app to the keyboard, plus third celebration apps Instagram, Fb and Flickr, and cloud providers Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Pocket and Wunderlist — content material from all or any of which may then be accessed and shared (by way of ThingThing’s sharing button) into no matter message the consumer is typing.
The group plans to combine with extra apps and providers as they proceed creating the app. The primary cross of integrations was chosen by asking customers what they needed simpler entry to once they’re typing, says Plante. The general concept for the keyboard got here to him when he was working as a advisor — and acquired an e mail from a shopper asking if he was free to satisfy the next week, and requesting he ship a specific doc.
“I began like most of us would do switching between apps, so I switched from my e-mail app to my calendar, I examine my availability, I observe that down, and I went again into my mail app — it was tremendous painful! After which after I went in my Dropbox app and I copied and pasted the hyperlink, which is kind of difficult when you consider it and if you do it,” says Plante.
Alongside together with his co-founder, his first thought was to create a messaging app — however they quickly realized they have been making a rod for their very own again by instantly making an attempt to compete with behemoths like WhatsApp.
“We stated to ourselves let’s… create an app like WhatsApp the place you possibly can share no matter you need from wherever, and it didn’t really feel proper. And once we have been asking for customers… we began to say that is actually not the strategy. Perhaps we might discover one other one. After which we noticed the Keyboard API from iOS and we stated ‘wow, that is superb’, since you might have the whole lot beneath your keyboard — proper in the meanwhile you want it. And all organized in a means that you simply really feel it’s pure.”
Plante says ThingThing focus is “consumer-centered design” — including: “we’re actually targeted on UX and UI” — and that definitely exhibits within the product, even in v1.1 of the app, which has a clear-wanting interface and an intuitive workflow. Much more intuitive than the moderately fiddly command-key strategy of the rival ReBoard app, imo.
A part of the intuitive design can also be about designing the performance that’s out there to the consumer once they pull a 3rd celebration service into the keyboard — so as an alternative of dumping them into the complete-fats Dropbox interface, say, ThingThing is being selective with the options it provides to suit with its cellular productiveness and sharing-targeted ethos.
“We work them actually based mostly on does it make sense for the consumer? What do you actually need if you find yourself typing a message? Our aim is to not combine no matter as a result of why not. We need to make it make sense for individuals,” says Plante. “We need to make it tremendous coherent for individuals.”
The grander purpose is to develop into a “individuals’s content material hub”, he says, hinting at extra formidable plans round making customers’ digital content material extra accessible. So the place different keyboard makers concern themselves with enhancing the typing expertise — a la SwiftKey, Swype, Fleksy and so forth — ThingThing is placing its emphasis squarely on sharing. “Sharing your availability, sharing your footage, sharing your information, sharing your stuff,” provides Plante.
There’s an iOS limitation the group is having to work with (and round) for now, which is that they’ve to make use of minimize and paste to switch content material from the third celebration service to the consumer’s message — and never each third get together app helps pasting pictures, for example.
“Inserting an image immediately or a file is restricted by Apple so we can’t do this proper now. Nevertheless we have now submitted our request to Apple,” says Plante with a hopeful snicker. “We’re engaged on discovering an answer or workaround that may make it tremendous straightforward for the consumer. However we’ve this specific limitation of copy pasting.”
“We’ve seen that in some apps, for example in Outlook, it doesn’t work due to the copy pasting of pictures. You possibly can nonetheless insert hyperlinks, Dropbox hyperlinks or any hyperlinks, textual content-based mostly, however copy-pasting photographs doesn’t work… Nevertheless we’re engaged on partnerships as nicely so we’re wanting into contacting these corporations and constructing partnerships to allow them to open that gate for us,” he provides.
When it comes to monetization, the ThingThing app is a free obtain however Plante says they are going to be including in-app purchases in future. He additionally says they’ve a further income stream scheme up their sleeve however isn’t able to disclose that considering simply but.
The app additionally stays iOS just for now. Plante says they’re contemplating an Android model — and variations for different platforms — however need to get the idea correctly polished on iOS earlier than placing further assets in the direction of creating for different platforms.
A few of that ambition is probably contingent on the bootstrapping group elevating funding to continue to grow the product. “We’re in dialogue with many buyers to boost our seed spherical,” he notes.