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Thumbs Up For A New Touchscreen Keyboard

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QWERTY keyboards, designed for typewriters over 200 years ago, could finally be replaced by a new layout made for touchscreen phones and tablets.

Researchers at the University of St Andrews in Scotland have developed KALQ, claiming it makes typing on phones and tablets 30 per cent quicker.

Dr. Per Ola Kristensson from the University of St Andrews said the archaic QWERTY layout had “trapped” smartphone and tablet users.

Touchscreen keyboard

Touchscreen keyboard

“We believe KALQ provides a large enough performance improvement to incentivize users to switch and benefit from faster and more comfortable typing,” he claimed.

QWERTY keyboards are ideal for laptops and desktops, but speeds are slower on touchscreens where most people type with their thumbs. The average speed for typing on touchscreens is 20 words per minute.

KALQ, named after the bottom-right four keys, bunches together common letters. The keyboard is split in half, so people can use both thumbs while typing. Vowels are on the right-hand side of the keyboard, but the left side has more letters. A version for left-handed people will flip this arrangement around. Researchers claimed it took between eight and 10 hours for users to learn the new keyboard layout.

An Android version of KALQ is due to be released this month. Developers are being sought to work on an iOS version.

Censorship - Facebook slammed for sharing murder video

Facebook has made a dramatic censorship U-turn, deleting two videos of people being decapitated, after initially arguing that they didn’t break its rules on violent content.

One video shows a woman being beheaded by a masked man while a second shows two men being attacked with a knife and a chainsaw. Both videos were widely shared on Facebook and were available for four days before being deleted.

Facebook had allowed the videos to be shared, arguing that they depicted “the world in which we live”, causing outrage among the thousands of users who had reported the videos to Facebook moderators.

Facebook had allowed the videos to be shared

Facebook had allowed the videos to be shared

Facebook said: “people can share upsetting videos on Facebook to raise awareness of actions or causes”, but critics said videos of murder and graphic violence crossed a line.

Facebook has now promised to remove any instances of the two videos and will also be evaluating its approach to violent content.

Google to demote search results as rivals rage

Google has agreed to change its search results after being hauled up before the European Commission for unfairly promoting its own services - but Google’s rivals say the changes don’t go far enough.

The Commission expressed concerns that Google was “abusing its dominant position” by giving prominence to results from services such as YouTube, Google Places and Google Shopping - all of which it owns. Google has a 90 per cent market share for online search in many European countries.

In Google Places, for example, searches for restaurants and hotels prominently display contact details, directions, reviews, photos and more, all from Google.

Google to demote search results as rivals rage

Google to demote search results as rivals rage

Google has agreed to change the way it shows search results by clearly labeling results for its own websites. Links promoting Google-owned services will also be separated from search results and Google must include links to relevant results from three rival services. These changes will only apply to how results appear in Europe.

Icomp (www.i-comp.org), a lobbying group backed by Microsoft, said the proposals made by Google were “not any kind of solution” to the concerns raised by the European Commission and that Google should not show bias towards its own websites when displaying search results.

In brief - New wireless broadband to be trialed in rural Britain

Innovative plans to use gaps in radio spectrum to bring high-speed, wireless broadband to rural Britain have been revealed.

Communications regulator Ofcom is inviting companies to take part in a trial of the new technology, which is expected to take place this autumn. The spare radio spectrum is normally used for digital TV and wireless microphones, but there is now space available to transmit other services such as high-speed wireless broadband.

The radio waves that will be used to transmit high-speed wireless broadband can travel over long distances and go through walls, making it an ideal way to connect parts of rural Britain stuck on slow connections.

Ofcom said the technology could be bringing faster broadband to rural homes by 2014.

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