Two people on their phones typing

Logic might suggest typing on a computer keyboard is much faster than typing on a mobile phone screen. However, reports the Guardian, research has shown that people can now type nearly as fast on a screen as they can on a keyboard.

Researchers discovered that people who typed text messages using just one finger managed an average of around 29 words per minute (wpm). However, those who had mastered the more dexterous two-thumb technique could type as many as 38 wpm. This is just 25% slower than the average Qwerty keyboard user.

Of the 37,000+ volunteers taking part in the study, some were much quicker than others. One participant was able to thumb out sentences at a spectacular 85 wpm – significantly faster than the 52 wpm people generally achieve on a keyboard.

Speaking about the findings, Anna Feit, a co-author of the study and researcher at ETH Zurich, said: “One of the most surprising things we found is that some people can type surprisingly fast with smartphone keyboards.”

She continued: “We showed, at a large scale, that people who type using both thumbs are very much faster than those who use just one finger.”

Four people sitting on a wall typing on their phones

Age played a part in the speed at which users were able to type on phone screens. Unsurprisingly, those old enough to remember when mobile phones were only designed for making calls were considerably slower. Teens managed an average of about 40 wpm, while those in their 40s and 50s managed 29 wpm and 26 wpm respectively.

Young people are growing up with these devices and doing all their typing on screens. They also spend a lot of time on their phones and devices – an average of six hours a day for those taking part in the study – so are getting plenty of practice.

The study also showed that autocorrect and predictive text helped speed up typing.

“If you want to be fast, make use of both your thumbs and turn on autocorrection, even though it might be annoying at times,” explained Feit. “And then just keep using it.”

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