Back in my day, if you could type without looking at the keyboard, you were leagues ahead of your middle school typing class. I remember I could reach 70 WPM while hunting and pecking instead of using the home position, and boy did that drive my teachers up the wall. But I digress; when you use electronics a lot, you naturally develop an aptitude for interacting with them. Fast typing, pressing buttons on a controller, and now texting on a smartphone.
According to a study conducted by researchers from Finland’s Aalto University, the University of Cambridge in the UK and Switzerland’s ETH Zürich, most smartphone users can text at about 70% of the speed at which they type on a standard QWERTY keyboard. They checked the speed and accuracy of texting from 37,000 participants in 160 countries. Among the volunteers tested, the average texting speed was around 36 WPM, though apparently one madman was able to clock in an impressive 85 WPM.
“We were amazed to see that users typing with two thumbs achieved 38 words per minute on average, which is only about 25% slower than the typing speeds we observed in a similar large-scale study of physical keyboards,” said ETH Zürich researcher Anna Feit. “While one can type much faster on a physical keyboard, up to 100 wpm, the proportion of people who actually reach that is decreasing. Most people achieve between 35-65 WPM.”
It’s important to note that the presence of autocorrect did influence things a bit, increasing typing speeds slightly. Word prediction, however, did not influence the results in any notable capacity, since people would sometimes have to stop and think of their words.
Whether or not improved texting speed is a good thing is a conversation in itself, but it is definitely impressive, if nothing else.