As you can see on the App Store, 'Shift' was actually published after the keyboard I will write about next. At the time, the other concept was just much more compelling to me, so I put this project on hold for a bit. As I started working on it beforehand, though, this order shall reflect that fact.
The concept behind 'Ahto' was to use up to three fingers in parallel on an eight button keyboard to enter specific characters.
For 'Shift', I kept the eight buttons (one for each pinky, pointer, ring and middle finger) but decided to give each one a modifier role. So if the user holds down on one button, the other seven get assigned specific characters based on that first button. The user can either release the first finger or tap one of the remaining buttons, each of which will enter a character (or perform a function). I designed the keyboard so that the one finger "tap and release" leads to common letters like 'a', 'e' or 'i' while entering e.g. the letter 'l' requires to hold down the forth button from the left and then tap the second one from the right. I think a preview video might be good at this point
As for the name:
I thought 'Shift' would be a good one as the shift key is the most commonly used modifier key. Everybody knows how it works and I hope it helps to get across the general idea. What I did not check in advance was whether there were any other apps with that name, much less keyboard extensions. Which - of course - there are. For a long time, there was a controversy regarding how Apple implemented the shift function. Some developers took it to themselves to provide alternatives and named their apps accordingly. So far, I stayed with my initial choice. But what to you think, is 'Alt' a better fit?
What also made the name a rushed decision was the easy path to the current icon
Visual design still not being my strong suit, I was desperately looking for something to use for the icon. With 'Shift' as the name, there was an easy answer, so I just went with it.
What motivated me to get back to this keyboard after I initially stopped working on it was the fact that the modifier concept allowed me to use 8 * 8 key combinations. As you can see, I used this for some bigrams i.e. two letter sequences that are common for the chosen language. Using 'Shift' for letters other than the 6 "direct tap" ones involves two buttons. The bigrams help to decrease the "taps per letter" ration below two.
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My name is André Nicolai, I am a software developer living in Berlin, Germany. While I mostly work with C# and Unity 3D during my day job, I have been developing apps with Swift in my space-time, ever since it was introduced in 2014. I am notoriously bad at blogging, but I will try to keep this page up to date with the projects I am working on.