If you're an iPhone owner who just hates typing on the device's virtual keyboard, Mobile Mechatronics has something for you: the iTwinge, a $30 BlackBerry-style, slide-on keyboard that mounts right on the iPhone.
Now iPhone purists are probably thinking this should be called the iCringe, but if you're heavy into texting and e-mailing and aren't proficient with the virtual keyboard, I can see some merit to using this device. However, it obviously covers up a good 40 percent of the iPhone's screen, which would seem problematic.
According to Mobile Mechatronics, the iTwinge Keyboard is a typing "Skin" for the iPhone that "enables faster and more accurate typing through the use of our patent pending Twinge Technology." Also, according to the company, studies show that an average user will improve their typing speed by 30 percent to 40 percent and reduce typing errors by 70 percent to 80 percent.
The lightweight keyboard sleeve--it weighs an ounce--attaches to the bottom of the iPhone and mimics the iPhone's virtual keyboard (it appears that touching the keys simply transfers the touch to the virtual keys below). According to the company's FAQ section, it slips on and off in a second and is durable (see a video of iTwinge in action here). It's also worth noting that it apparently draws some power from your iPhone, but only a tiny amount.
Mobile Mechatronics indicates that the iTwinge is also a training tool for those transitioning from a phone with a physical keyboard to the iPhone's virtual keyboard and that it has an iPhone app in development that helps "users build muscle memory & improve typing skills."
The iTwinge is scheduled to ship on November 17 and the company is taking preorders now. We assume Mobile Mechatronics has Apple's blessing to sell this, but it's worth noting that Apple has refused so far to approve or create Bluetooth drivers that would let you use a wireless keyboard to type on the iPhone. I've written about the whole iPhone Bluetooth keyboard fiasco in the past, and I still can't understand why Apple wouldn't give its users the option of using a Bluetooth keyboard with the iPhone.
Anyway, what do you guys think of the iTwinge? Is it intriguing and innovative or a waste of money?