“Clicks” BlackBerry keyboard

‘Clicks’ creates a BlackBerry style keyboard for iPhones

London start-up Clicks is out to rewrite history with the unthinkable addition of a BlackBerry-style clickable keyboard for the iPhone. Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ genius was to get rid of keyboards used on devices like the BlackBerry and instead build an iPhone with a plain screen, with no keyboard and clutter.

The iPhone launched in 2007 and buried BlackBerry whose co-CEO’s Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie tried to defy the market by keeping the keyboard. It was a fatally flawed move.

It’s now 17 years since the iPhone launched, yet despite the salutary history lesson, there remain true believers who see the BlackBerry clickable keyboard as a naggingly painful omitted iPhone feature.

These true believers are playing out their dream through Clicks which has resurrected a clickable iPhone keyboard in the form of an add-on back cover which you can now order.

Jeff Gadway, the senior vice president of “Clicks”  is one of the true believers. He is a former BlackBerry employee of 10 years, now with Clicks.

Jeff Gadway, the SVP of “Clicks” is a former BlackBerry employee of 10 years standing.
Jeff Gadway, the SVP of “Clicks” is a former BlackBerry employee of 10 years standing.

Jeff Gadway, the SVP of “Clicks”  is a former BlackBerry employee of 10 years standing.

Clicks was among companies showcasing their wares at Barcelona’s Showstoppers event, held the day before the Mobile World Congress communications conference. He says the new keyboard happened very quickly.

“The idea of clicks was first conceived in January 2023,” he tellsChannel News Australia.

“Some of the founders like Kevin and Adrian validated that the concept would work. They formed the company in April 2023 and the first real working prototypes were in our hands around April 2023 and then through July to January, we made about 100 different changes, trying to optimize the buttons and trying to optimize the IP to make it perfect.

“We launched at CES on January 4 (2024).”

I then asked the 64 billion dollar question. Can you type faster on an iPhone using a BlackBerry-style keyboard add-on.

“It’s a good question,” Mr Gadway acknowledged. “People are pretty fast on screen keyboards, but that being said, I think it’s a function of speed with accuracy together, and just being able to do certain kinds of tasks on your phone that you wouldn’t do on a virtual keyboard alone.”

He cites the ease of executing multi-press function key combinations on the click keyboard.

“People typically wait to get back to their desk, whether it’s a longer message or editing a document, because buttons are just better for those types of applications. So now they’ll be able to do them more comfortably on a phone, on the go.”

The Clicks keyboard is powered from an iPhone. Clicks says it will consume about two percent of battery power based on its tests.

Clicks so far has four cases for the iPhone” The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, and iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. More will be in the pipeline. The company wants to produce a wider range of accessories.

Wirepas connects millions of devices in a single network

There was more than just Clicks exhibiting at Showstoppers. Another start-up Wirepas says it can create a network with millions of devices attached simultaneously.

And speaking of BlackBerry. Wirepas acknowledges it is using an old BlackBerry trick to up the capacity of a network when it was oversubscribed. The company turned its devices into modems and have the network join them.

It says its software enables the creation of massive-scale, decentralized, high-density, and long-range network applications, so that enterprises can set up and manage their own networks autonomously without needing complex infrastructures, operators or subscriptions.

Opera browser gets AI to keep up with the times

Opera has been with us a long time, having been first released in 1995. That makes it a survivor in browser land. And it is out to survive again with the addition of AI features which the company says will allow Opera to remain competitive. Users often install it as a second, back up browser should they have problems with their Safari, Chrome or Edge.

Opera says its AI engine Aria is based on several large language models. As with rival engines such as Microsoft Copilot, Aria will understand a user’s question, process it and respond using natural language. It will provide information, rework text-based content, and generating ideas.

You can also ask Aria to assist you in writing an email, tweet, social media post, or any other type of text, in any style you specify, such as formal, informal, or humorous. Opera says you can ask Aria to shorten or summarise web content, generate ideas, find synonyms and analogies, and refine your own concepts.

Published by ChannelNews Australia, February 27, 2024.

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