This post is part thought experiment but also a serious, eventual, Roadmap item should the resources ever be available. How can a keyboard app be social? And why should it be? I think Keyman can also be a social app and both the app and its users would benefit from it becoming one. A summary here for consideration.
When I look at the various mobile apps there are a few that have a social component though their primary function is something else that I look at as a model for Keyman. The best example would be my Fitbit tracker which is there primarily to track my steps as I walk. Knowing how many steps I’ve taken encourages me to do more. But being connected to friends, knowing that they can see my steps (or rather the lack of them), and being able to see their steps, motivates me much further. The human nature of being self-conscious and competitive kicks in here. Most importantly, Fitbit doesn’t require me to do anything extra really, unlike Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter where you have to prepare something to share and then post it, then monitor a conversation that follows, etc.
Suppose with the Keyman app you could opt-in to start tracking your usage such as keystrokes and which keyboards were used and how much so, and made available on a statistics screen. Typing speed per keyboard could also be calculated and presented to the user on the statistics screen. This could be interesting data for a user (also for a developer to know which keys were most used or least used). If a user could then create an account, the social aspect would be built around sharing this data.
With a user account and profile in the Keyman app, the next step is to connect to friends. With a friend network, you could view the keyboards that a person has installed in a most-used listing, and keyboards marked as favorites. This would be a way to discover new keyboards that you weren’t previously aware of. (Friend of friends could optionally be viewed, I find that I don’t do this on Fitbit and don’t know if it’s possible, so seems less important).
Like sharing a view of steps with Fitbit friends, it would be keystroke counts that are shared. Analogous to “Workweek Challenges” in Fitbit, it would be weekly typing challenges. Both typing volume and speed can be tracked. Overall winner, but also most/fastest per specific keyboard.
Globally, the Keyman central site could maintain a leaderboard of who the biggest and fastest typist are. Perhaps a leaderboard of the most used keyboard per language, again helping the discovery of new keyboards.
Without being in a friend network, the local usage tracking could still be useful and give Keyman a minor “game” like aspect where a user is rewarded for reaching milestones. Like receiving a star for reaching 1,000 keystrokes, 10k keystrokes, etc. or reaching a set goal (daily, weekly). Offering little rewards to the user would encourage them to use Keyman over other keyboard apps. A “Donate to Keyman” button can be conveniently placed on these statistics and social pages. Coming into these screens regularly to check updates the user will get lots of exposure to the button and presumably is more likely to eventually donate.