Watching the slow and steady trickle of third-party keyboards arrive on the App Store is like seeing a desert get rain for the first time. And like that dry, cracked earth, my own thirst for new ways to poke out emails and texts is insatiable. That is maybe the only way to explain why I purposefully downloaded and installed a keyboard designed to sound like Jack Nicholson.
This is keySonic, a creation of a company called dSonic, which made some of the sound effects in the first Bioshock game, among others. It made keySonic with the idea that phones in TV shows and movies always have absurd sound effects when people type them, therefore we must have this in real life. But that idea has been taken too far here.
People will probably hate you for using this
This is a piece of software that will make people hate you. The subtle peck you'd normally hear — or hope to never hear because decent people can just set their phone to silent — has been replaced with a cacophony of your choosing. It comes with six free sound sets, and there's an option to buy 21 others. One of those is designed to sound like an electric guitar. There's also one made entirely of fart noises. For just 99 cents, you can also buy one made specifically to emulate the sinister laughs of Jack Nicholson in The Shining with each and every peck.
Each keyboard comes with its own design, which range from not great to bad. That includes the actual basketballs in one called Basketball that put tiny white text on an orange background.
Hidden among this collection are some gems though. One called Restricted Access really does sound like a security keypad you'd find in a top secret nuclear missile silo. Another one called Steampunk Machine provides a rather pleasant powering up sound when you hit the shift key. Neither one of these is anything like one called Creepy Circus that plays a sound of a clown being electrocuted when you hit the "e" on your keyboard. I know this because I subjected my officemates to these sounds, and got immediate and repeated death stares.
Use at your own risk
That brings up the possibility of using this in the wild, which could very well get you beat up or given a stern talking to from a stranger. When you're texting a friend to let them know you're running five minute late, someone might think that you're drowning something thanks to an aquatic-themed keyboard called Life Savers. And when typing in a URL in Safari they might also think you were trying to go on an actual safari with one called Zebra that's designed to sound like African djembe drums.
If there is one thing this app is good for, it's showing us that the freedom to change this one part of our phones comes with great responsibility. Someone might have already tried to tell me that, but I couldn't hear them over the sound of my Jack Nicholson keyboard.