Third-party custom keyboards were one of the accessibility enhancements that was most anticipated in iOS 8. Keedogo and Keedogo Plus from AssistiveWare are excellent for beginning typers and those who need a simple and colourful interface.
These reviews are generally just a single keyboard at a time but Keedogo and Keedogo Plus are significantly similar so I am reviewing them together. Thanks to AssistiveWare’s David Niemeijer for answering my many questions!
Description from AssistiveWare’s own website:
Keedogo is designed for children and young students who just started to read, write and type. The simplified layout helps beginning typers to focus on learning rather than being distracted by superfluous functions. Keedogo Plus adds word prediction to speed up typing and build confidence.
A note about the questions below: I am using the same headings for each keyboard being reviewed in this series, to make it easier to compare keyboards. Different users have different accessibility needs so it’s not necessarily better to offer more of these things, offering less may be a design decision that increases accessibility in different ways. For Keedogo and Keedogo Plus, especially, a lot of these features are omitted because simplicity is the developer’s aim.
What keys are available?
Alphabet, numbers, simple punctuation. Two screens only with the most common punctuation on the main screen.
Alternate input methods available?
Can the user predefine abbreviations/shortcuts?
Does it use gestures? What for?
Punctuation and special characters
Two space = period?
No, but Keedogo Plus will automatically remove spaces before punctuation and add spaces after punctuation, so simply typing a period will give you a period then a space.
Auto caps after appropriate punctuation/whitespace?
Yes, for Keedogo Plus only.
Hold down key for special characters? (accents, .com, etc?)
No. The developer commented to me, “We did this on purpose because we think this is quite confusing for young kids, not so discoverable, and for physically challenged might be annoying or difficult.”
Extended hold “backspace/delete” key to delete quickly?
No, but holding backspace will repeatedly delete individual characters.
Double-tap shift for capslock?
No, there is a dedicated caps lock key on the right of the keyboard.
Prediction of next word available?
Yes, for Keedogo Plus only. Users can select word completion, next word prediction, or multi-word prediction.
Prediction/autocorrect learns from input?
Yes, for Keedogo Plus only. Learning options are available.
Can use external sources to train autocorrect?
Misc correction/prediction (eg cloud syncing, other languages)
Key size (compared to standard)?
Same as iOS default keyboard.
Input keys are yellow, most have black glyphs with vowels optionally having red glyphs.
Shift/enter/backspace are brightly coloured with white glyphs
Special keys are grey with white glyphs
Case of alphabet on board changes with context?
Yes. Options are available.
Key layout options (Qwertz? Azerty? Dvorak? Colemac?)
Qwerty and ABC layouts are available.
Has multiple themes? (any specific disability ones?)
Yes, a greyscale theme is also available.
Can design own theme? (easy/hard? how complex can themes be?)
Misc appearance (eg keyboard font, different colouring for different keys, etc.)
Keyboard uses a handwriting-alike font designed to be easy for beginner readers. Letters such as ‘g’ and ‘a’ especially are shown the way they are written. Vowel colouring can also be turned off.
AssistiveWare have confirmed that Keedogo and Keedogo Plus are fully VoiceOver compatible.
Keedogo and Keedogo do, of course, suffer from the limitations affecting all third-party iOS keyboards at present, but they are only minimally affected by these because of the features they use. AssistiveWare has produced disability-specific software for Macs for many years and for iOS since it was first released, and have a very strong comittment to continued support and accessibility.
AssistiveWare also have a third iOS 8 keyboard, Keeble, which is newly available and which I will review soon. It’s designed for those who need advanced physical accessibility features such as hold duration, select on release, and full accessibility for switch users.
For those who are interested in simplicity, especially for beginning types and those whose literacy is just developing, Keedogo and Keedogo Plus are excellent choices.