Typing has become as essential to life as writing and reading. It’d be impossible to use most tech products today without any typing skills, and if you use computers for any extended period, you’d better be fast while typing or you’ll quickly get left behind. Accuracy and speed are still crucial skills, even with AutoCorrect and speech detection built into OS X today.
Keys is an app that aims to get you typing faster than ever and to help you improve the accuracy of your typing. The average person can type around 50-70 words per minute, but with Key, you’ll hopefully be typing like the pros at 150 words per minute in no time. It might be the perfect app for back-to-school season, getting you ready to type up essays, or for any of us IT pros that want to speed up our typing. Let’s take a look and see if this is the app you need to make your typing more efficient on the world’s best OS for writing.
I am yet to come across another app that features an interface quite like Keys: the interface is clean and slick and lets you to concentrate on one thing: typing. When you first open up Keys, you’re presented with a welcome screen that gets you up and running with the app, making sure you don’t miss a trick and know how to make the most out of it. When you first start the app up, you’ll have a desire to just press the keys but I assure you, reading the notes about how to use the app is very useful!
To use Keys, you’re presented with a row of letters and spaces, and all you have to do is press the keys correctly. This may sound easy but each time you make a mistake, Keys counts this and along the side you can see how well you’re doing. You also have a virtual keyboard that shows what you’ve typed and the keys you’re pressing, this is especially useful to get you started with touch typing. Keys also gives you a pointer as to which hand you should be typing with via a handy little graphic in the top left corner.
On the right, you’re able to view how many mistakes have been made, the amount of keystrokes you’ve made, your percentage of error and the speed in which you type. As you use Keys more and more, you’ll kick yourself when you make a mistake, because from personal experience I can assure you there’s nothing more infuriating than when your 0% error ticks up.
The interface also features some standard controls at the bottom of the app, including the ability to start again, toggle whether or not the guides on the keyboard appear, a settings menu and also an indictor showing your progress and also the ability to toggle a drawer showing all the available courses.
If you consider yourself a more able typist, then you can simply toggle a drawer on the right and choose from all the courses built into Keys. They range from the simple ‘asdf’ to more obscure parts of the keyboard. With each course you practice typing on different areas of the keyboard, gradually getting more proficient, and the idea is that you’ll become proficient and familiar with the whole thing.
One limitation I have found is that you’re not able to actually choose a course in which the whole keyboard is used. You’re limited to only four keys (not including the space bar) and cannot be tested on them all. That would be useful because that’s the ultimate goal: the ability to touch-type regardless of where the key is located.
One thing lacking for Keys is the ability to use international keyboards, and currently only a U.S. keyboard is supported. Although this isn’t too much of a problem for someone like me using a British keyboard, it could become tedious and tiresome for something using a more ‘exotic’ keyboard.
Visualising Your Performance
Once you’ve done with your typing, Keys nicely lays out your performance of that session using a nice graph and shows a couple of nice graphics representing your error rate and speed.
It would be handy if you could actually keep track of each session and compare how much better you’re getting at typing and to track your progress, maybe it would be worth a future update to include this. It would also be useful to be able to export the data and graphs so you can publish your results and performance.
If you’re the kind of person that types a lot and uses a computer often then I’d recommend that you get up to speed with your typing using Keys. Keys is a useful, functional application that really does work. One downside is that it’s not exactly an inexpensive app and does come at the price of $29.99, but I’d recommend considering the investment if you’re a serious power user and serious at typing. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, the web app TypingWeb is a decent alternate, though with a far less nice interface.
After using Keys for the best part of a week, I have found myself typing faster. Before reviewing Keys, I was skeptical because I didn’t think I could type any faster than I already did but after using Keys, I am nearing 100 words per minute!