Hi all, I just got off a cross country flight and did some typing along the way.
Personally, I don't see any way to beat the typing experience in the FlickType app. If this keyboard, with its manual entry, numbers and symbols, could be incorporated into a half screen, system wide keyboard, I think the blind and visually impaired community would be pretty happy with the end product. Look at the very positive response the app got when it went public.
I know you said you wanted to keep the manual input close to the iOS experience... But why? Unless you are planning a general public release, I see no reason for this. If the app style keyboard could be incorporated as a system wide keyboard, after very little use it would be my default keyboard and the iOS keyboard would become a piece of nostalgia.
Just my opinion...