Few people realize that Windows Phone 7 will be launching with a standard onscreen keyboard that can not be changed by developers. Until Microsoft loosens this restrictions, Windows Phone owners are stuck with the stock keyboard and can not explore alternatives like Swype; unless of course you scoop up that HTC 7 Trophy with its physical portrait keyboard.
With this restriction in mind, the folks at Pocketnow took a close look at the Windows Phone 7 onscreen keyboard. From their video, we can see that the keyboard takes up about 1/2 of the screen and offers fours rows of rectangular keys. The QWERTY layout is unique and features a smaller second row of keys nestled between two longer rows of keys. The keyboard provides audible feedback while typing and is contextual so you will have a comma while writing, a “.com” while browsing and an @ symbol when typing an email.
Auto-complete and spellcheck are both present but unfortunately, spellcheck appears in the email and Word applications only. It is not present in the SMS app or other apps that use the keyboard for typing. Spellcheck will highlight an incorrect word by underlining it in red and a simple tap to select the word will bring up a list of alternative spellings.
As expected, the keyboard does not allow you to copy and paste, nor select more than one word at a time. This is a known limitation that Microsoft will reportedly address in future versions of Windows Phone 7. Apple’s method for selecting and copy/paste is very elegant and intuitive, so it will be interesting to see what Microsoft develops as a competitor.
For those who want to see the keyboard on action, take a look at video preview below and let us know what you think. I realize that without some hands-on time you can not offer a thorough assessment, but from this brief preview does the keyboard look great, adequate, or abysmal?