Smartphone text input method performance, usability, and preference with younger and older adults

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Issue Date
2015-09
Authors
Smith, Amanda Lynn
Chaparro, Barbara S.
Advisor
Citation

Smith, Amanda Lynn; Chaparro, Barbara S. 2015. Smartphone text input method performance, usability, and preference with younger and older adults. Human Factors, vol. 57:no. 6:pp 1015-1028

Abstract

Objective: User performance, perceived usability, and preference for five smartphone text input methods were compared with younger and older novice adults.

Background: Smartphones are used for a variety of functions other than phone calls, including text messaging, e-mail, and web browsing. Research comparing performance with methods of text input on smartphones reveals a high degree of variability in reported measures, procedures, and results. This study reports on a direct comparison of five of the most common input methods among a population of younger and older adults, who had no experience with any of the methods.

Method: Fifty adults (25 younger, 18-35 years; 25 older, 60-84 years) completed a text entry task using five text input methods (physical Qwerty, onscreen Qwerty, tracing, handwriting, and voice). Entry and error rates, perceived usability, and preference were recorded.

Results: Both age groups input text equally fast using voice input, but older adults were slower than younger adults using all other methods. Both age groups had low error rates when using physical Qwerty and voice, but older adults committed more errors with the other three methods. Both younger and older adults preferred voice and physical Qwerty input to the remaining methods. Handwriting consistently performed the worst and was rated lowest by both groups.

Conclusion: Voice and physical Qwerty input methods proved to be the most effective for both younger and older adults, and handwriting input was the least effective overall.

Application: These findings have implications to the design of future smartphone text input methods and devices, particularly for older adults.

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