Many people assume that it takes longer to type on a touchscreen device than it does using a traditional physical keyboard. After all, touchscreen devices use a virtual keyboard that’s not particularly ergonomic, whereas physical keyboards offer a more familiar and ergonomic method of input. According to a new study, however, the typing speed of touchscreen devices now rivals that of physical keyboards.

About the Study

As reported by Daily Mail, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology recently conducted a study to compare the typing speeds of touchscreen devices to that of physical keyboards. For the study, researchers recruited over 37,000 people, all of whom had their typing activities tracked.

So, what did researchers find? After analyzing the data, they discovered that participants were able to type on touchscreen devices at an average rate of 38 words per minute when using both thumbs. Researchers note that this only about 25% slower than the average typing speed of physical keyboards, meaning touchscreen devices are now catching up.

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 study co-author and researcher Anna Feit.

Why Touchscreen Typing Speeds Are Becoming Faster

You might be wondering why or how touchscreen typing speeds are becoming faster. Well, there are a few plausible reasons for this trend, one of which is increased familiarity with touchscreen devices. Although they are all around us, touchscreen devices are still relatively new. They’ve only been around for a few decades, so not everyone is familiar with them, nor do they know how to effectively use a virtual keyboard. Today, however, most people are more familiar with touchscreen devices than in the past. As a result, they are able to type faster using a touchscreen’s virtual keyboard.

In addition to increased familiarity, most touchscreen devices feature auto-correct. As the name suggests, auto-correct is designed to automatically correct a misspelled word. If you accidentally enter the wrong letter when typing a word on a touchscreen’s virtual keyboard, auto-correct will automatically fit it. It’s a highly useful feature that ultimately increases the average typing speed of touchscreen devices.

The bottom line is that while it’s still faster to type on a physical keyboard, touchscreen devices are gaining ground. The study cited above found the most touchscreen users can type 38 words per minute, which is just 25% slower than the word-per-minute typing rate of physical keyboards.