A quick look at the new keyboard caret in Word Flow for Windows Phone 8.1

The new Word Flow keyboard in Windows Phone 8.1 has a lot going for it, but there's a subtle change in how you edit words using the caret (aka cursor for some, 'blinking vertical line' for others) that you may have missed. In Windows Phone 8.0, you had to hold-n-press to bring up the caret, but now in 8.1 you can just tap in between words. What's more, the caret now has a little circle at the bottom where you can "grab it" with your finger and move it around.

Curious about how it works? Watch our short video after the break which will compare and contrast it with Windows Phone 8.0.

The revised caret in Windows Phone 8.1 has some of you enjoying it, while others are a little frustrated. In that regard, we're curious as to what you think. Is it easier now or did you like the old method? Let us know in comments!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • I hate the new cursor.
  • Same here.. Old one was way better..
  • If you touch the bubble and move the caret along, you can also move your finger down, so the caret and words are more visible. As the caret stays put when first selected and moves as above, I really do prefer the updated version.
  • I like the updated version too. In the old one, once you let go the cursor and if you mis-placed it, you had to start all over again. This one is easier and quicker.
  • Agree!!
  • Yes! New cursor ftw!!! While it shocked me at first, I quickly discovered how much better it is. :)
  • Try entering a comment in the FB app. Swipe left to move the caret and suddently you are in the chat window. WTF?   The old caret was great because it had everything that the new one does (including the ability to keep the finger away from the point where the caret really is, thereby not obscuring the screen)   The inability to invoke the caret with ease (the old one had a guaranteed method - long press anywhere) is one my biggest annoyances with WP8.1
  • I agree. Even in the video, you see Daniel has a dificult time envoking it. The old way (once you knew about it) it was great for precise movement. I could move it up and down, left or right, though paragraphs and see exactly where it was going. Now... not so. You need to envoke it on line of the paragraph (trying desperately not to select the entire word) and basicly just move it left or right. Try moving it up a line or two and my finger covers it up, and I can't tell where the frak it is!!!!! I will concede that the old way took a bit longer because of the long press to envoke it. But how about combining the two ways? A quick tap and you get the new caret method, a long press and you get the old caret method?????? For me, old method was why I like WP over iOS, or Android. I could move around to edit text so much easier with my fat fingers. Sadly now I'm back to wanting to smash the phone on the ground when I have to edit text. :(
  • Daniel had no clue have to invoke it, this video is so wrong in so many ways that it makes me angry. There are two methods to invoke caret in 8.1 -
    1) press and hold where you want caret to appear, similar way of 8.0, but slightly different as it will appear right under your finger rather than above your finger.
    2) tap on the word and it will highlight the word, with slight delay tap second time on the same word and you will have your caret.
    This has been pointed out about two dozen times in comments, but in typical fashion of WPC, they have ignored to acknowledge that they have made a boo-boo or update the article with correct information.
  • Discovery... That's why they changed it.  I remember just a few months ago they were doing something and this was shown in a video.  Tons of people were like "OMG, you can do that!?".  I've seen it on other mobile blogs too, where the reviewer would complain about no easy way to move the caret and someone in the comments would point it out.  They wouldn't always update the article. I get that if you knew about the old method it was great.  But considering they're trying to get more people to buy into the OS these types of changes are important.  Say what you will but the new way makes a lot more sense if you didn't know about the old.  And discovering the old way wasn't exactly intuitive.
  • I wish they'd just give the option to choose between the 2 caret methods...
  • Plenty of times I've come across the keyboard being over the stupid bubble. it's terrible.
  • Not suitable at all for multi-line text entry... Where I happen to need it more often
  • I found the new one better..... Mainly because now it allows you to correct a mistake in the middle of a word without having to delete the whole word. Earlier it was not possible and it used to frustrate me a lot......
  • It was entirely possible...
  • I just watched the video and agree with you it was possible. But i'd had my 920 for over a year and had no idea it was. I always felt it was one of the few areas where WP really needed to catch up with Android and iOS, little did I know it had, but it was not obvious. So that as much as anything is a good reason they have changed it.
  • Same here!
  • Lol it was possible, but you had to tap and hold exactly where you wanted the cursor to land.. I agree with most here! The new one is better; especially because you can hold the bottom and move it while keeping the words visible
  • In WP 8.0 after tapping and holding you you could move the cursor freely. How the duck did you miss that?
  • This is the single most annoying thing of Windows phone. Drove me completely insane. Awesome that they finally fixed it...
  • but new seems faster :)
  • Same here. Old one was perfect, imo.
  • Eh I personally think Apple is a bit better in the whole text selection grand scheme of things. Especially when selecting a group of text from a web page, like a whole paragraph or some thing like that.
  • What's hard with 8.1? Select the first word in the paragraph and then drag the circle down. I just tried it and found it very easy. How is IOS better?
  • I agree. Text selection is just as easy on my 920 as it is on my daughters 4S. They are just slightly different. Not really a big deal.
  • ditto!
  • +1 i hate the new one also. It's shitty.
  • Actually it's not bad when you learn to use it :)
  • Same here. Once you learn the hang of it, the new one is way easier and more accurate to use compared to the hit-and-miss of the old one.
  • New one is more accurate for me, but the finger gets in the way of the cursor.
  • Then lower your finger; you can grab the circle from below. No need to keep your finger over the caret line.
  • Same. My thumb always covers the cursor despite the fact I grab it from the little circle. The old one was better because it would float above my finger. 
  • Exactly!
  • All you have to do is to tap the little circle and then drag your finger below the cursor
    It will behave exactly the same as before. You will be able to move your finger around and still see the cursor clearly.
  • Actually you can tap and drag you finger away from the cursor and the cursor will still moving ;) Personally I found myself a little bit odd for the first time but now getting used to it. It's more faster to make any correction. A nice feature imo because it get you sync in experience between using touch screen keyboard in your Windows 8.1 and using keyboard for Windows Phone 8.1 :)
  • It did? It frustrated me!
  • +over 9000 Hate the new cursor.
  • This one too, don't grab it right on the top of the circle, grab it slightly below the circle and it has more or less the same effect.
  • +1
  • I don't like it..also it's not functional in Whatsapp.
  • How is it not functional? Sorry, I am not being funny, I really like to know.
  • Just tested right now, works as advertised on Whatsapp.
  • Having used Android before moving to WP, that cursor was a good 5% of the reason I left.
  • I actually like the new one.
  • This cursor is much better. I could never get the old one to go where I wanted it to.
  • Yeah, me tooo....
  • 2:59
  • Same here. The old one was perfect. I don't like the new one. An option to switch between the old and the new behavior would very nice.
  • Me too.
  • Yup, this is one of those small changes that no one asked for & makes the experience more frustrating.
  • I asked for it.
  • Me too. The new one is more like how it works at Windows 8.1, but I prefer the windows phone 8.0 cursor by far! They should implement the WP 8.0 cursor style to Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 instead of the other way around! Problem with the new cursor is that:
    1) the bubble is too small to select it easily and 
    2) when touching a word it is in 'selection mode' automatically and it is almost impossible to go back to the 'cursor moving mode'
  • 2) second tap on the same highlighted word changes it to cursor, easy as pie.
  • Hi Mayur, your asnwer is not quite correct thugh. It does not checge to cursor mode but shows the carot and only changes back to the blinking cursor when you start typing. So correct asnweres to WPJansens problems would be: Ignore the bubble under the carot since you can easyly move it with tap 'n hold as follows: If you see the blinking cursor: Tap 'n Hold anywhere you would like the carot to apear and then release your finger. The carot will be at the postition your finger was. To move it simply Tap 'n Hold again anywhere and move your finger; the carot will follow. No need to aim for that bubble thingy. If you the carot is already visible in your text field: Tap 'n Hold anywhere you want to move the carot to and move your finger ever so slightly and the carot wil jump to your finger's postition. As Mayur already explained, if you tap the selected word again the carot will apear either at the beginning or end of the word; depending on whether you tapped the word mor left or right of its center. From here you can move it as described above I hope that cleared out your problem you have with the repositioning of the cursor/carot. By the way, this behavior is almost the same as it was with the old implementation, only that the selecting braket is now no longer popping up a row above, so I personaly do not understand why people are now so confused. (ó.Ò)a
    It is much more precise now.
  • Thats sounds well thought out. Have to try it out. I am still concerned that it is again not very intuitive. And it is a very important issue to perceive a device as productive. 
  • Main problem with the new caret is that your finger always blocks your sight. That's why the old WP8.0 caret worked that well! You could move your finger no matter where on the screen and the caret moved at a nice distance above your finger. Suggestion to Microsoft is make the bubble bigger or to place it a bit lower underneath the caret.
  • I hate it infinity.
  • Its different. Similar to the surface online keyboard - Eventually it will become normal.
  • I hate this new method. The old way was more intuitive. Glad this video exists because I have up. The old way was easily more "discoverable" since other phone systems were similar.
  • So you knew intuitively that you had to hold you finger on the screen for a few seconds to appear? The other phone systems are more like this. Tapping to select the word and then draging to select more items is more intuitive. Most people are used to tapping to select items. Tap and hold isn't really that intuitive.
  • +820 on 4.3 es too tiny to select the circle. the old one appears "over" the finger, war the best cursor like iOS cursor.
  • If you hate it, you can ignore it. Just erase everything and start over. That's what I due. Dang.
  • So let's say I've written like 2000 words of an essay and decide to do some quick touch ups on my phone and notice a mistake mid way through it, are you seriously suggesting I rewrite like one thousand words of my essay on my phone?
  • yikes!!!why do u people always beat me?
  • Its just awesome . Super . Fantastic .
  • +1520, lovin' the new cursor! I wish if they add a cursor in phone dialer too! Vote for it here http://windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/suggestions/2294827-cursor-in-phone-dialler-to-allow-editing
  • Daniel, how do you like it.?
  • TBH, not too sure. I think i like the new one a bit, but the difference isn't big enough for me to have a strong opinion on the matter (unlike others).
  • Daniel, it is not that difficult, first tap highlights the whole word and second tap on the same word changes to caret and puts it at the end or the beginning of the word (depending on where you tapped). You don't specifically need to aim for the space between words.
  • But that's what WP 8.0 does too, so there's nothing new here?
  • Yes there is. When you let go on the new one it still stays there and can be re-adjusted till you start editing. The old one would not let you reposition without restarting the whole process of hold and wait.
  • Exactly, the old one was one shot deal, once you let go you could not reposition it and if you made a mistake then you had to start the whole tap and hold routine all over again.
  • Oh, very nice!
  • ^this Plus, if you tap 'n hold, the caret jumps to your fingertip as soon as you move you finger a bit & the carot can be moved without actually taping on the caret. If you have the cursor and then tap 'n hold anywhere the caret apears at your fingertip which you then only can move if you release and tap 'n hold again (I think it is kind of because switching into repositioning mode). This also shows that Daniels' video in the article could use a little refinement; it is just only displaying half of the full functionallity. I personally really like the new style; it is sooooo much easier to use.
  • You are a lifesaver... Just could not figure it out. But now I'm sold, the new method is phenomenal... There just weren't any instructions on how to use it.
  • Omg!!! Thank you for this tip!!! I hated the wp8 cursor method as I used Office a ton on my phone and editing was horrible with that wp8 cursor design. Wp8.1 was a step on the right direction though it was better in windows 8/8.1 in Office. But your tip totally made me love wp8.1 method
  • thank you SO much! i didn't know the thing about the second tap! amazing. now i can work with the new cursor even faster and better than with the old one. before it was kind of frustrating to find the free space where the cursor could arrive. (y)
  • Better, better, better.
  • It's kinda hard to get used on the new corser
  • Try double tapping with a delay. Easiest way to activate it.
  • I'm on the fence. It's nice not holding down and having to wait, but it does seem trickier to grab/place it. There are some times though where the new one has been better, like posting within forum fields.
  • You don't need to click on the circle, you can point and click on the cursor itself.
  • Lemme try it out first :P
  • ...is anything stoppping you from trying?
  • Maybe he was waiting for an invitation?
  • From my experience, it didn't really change, it added another method. You can still long press to get the caret... or just double tap between the words. It doesn't work for me from the first tap. Always 2 taps. So it's a double tap, plus the traditional long press.
  • There is no long press in the new version. Or rather, the long press would start the cursor grab. Now it places the cursor, but that's ultimately useless because you cannot possibly use your fat thumb to pin point where you want the cursor to go...
  • I like the circle, but i don't like that it appears at the end of whatever I've typed and I have to move it to the error I want to correct. It's not easier to edit after typing a couple of paragraphs.
  • older one was better...this will work better if the circle is a little bigger maybe
  • +1
  • It was confusing at first. But once you get used to it, this one is faster actually. While dragging the cursor, you can put yo