Android keyboard app shoot-out - Fleksy, Minuum, Swiftkey, and Swype battle for glory

Installing a custom keyboard app is a coming-of-age ritual for every Android user who's tired of functional, but limited stock keyboards. With the Google Play store becoming home to an ever increasing number of third-party keyboards, and iOS 8 strapping up to get them very soon, we felt it's time to hold a bloody, dusty spaghetti western shoot-out between the four most popular keyboards in the Android community. We're talking about Minuum, Fleksy, Swiftkey, and Swype - keyboards that represent the past, present, and future of touch-screen typing.

We will do a quick check-up of each contestant from four angles - look and feel (how nice it looks and behave), control efficiency (how efficient we felt its input methods are), typing efficiency (how well it performs in actual typing, and misc features (what else it offers besides, you know, keyboard-ing). Then we'll hand them the guns, throw them in the arena, and award the last keyboard standing in each category. Let the games begin!


Developer: FleksyDownload: Android
Genre: KeyboardPrice: Free / $3.99

Fleksy has come a long way since it first appeared on the Apple App Store in July 2012, in the form of a stand-alone keyboard app. We reviewed it about a week ago, and we were left with very positive impressions off this agile little keyboard. Let's give it another look, then!

1. Look and feel


Fleksy has a modern, minimalist design. It doesn't look like a traditional keyboard, as there are almost no keys to speak off. It's more of a board with the letters drawn on it. Thanks to the spaciousness and good choice of font, having no graphical separation between the letters isn't a problem at all. Fleksy's look can be customized with a choice of 12 color schemes in pleasant muted colors, while the keyboard can be switched between 'Original', 'Small, and 'Tiny' modes with simple two-finger vertical swipes. While Fleksy's no-frills look can come across as bland, others will certainly appreciate the simplicity.

2. Control efficiency


Unlike keyboards that employ swiping and voice dictation, Fleksy is all about hitting letters and doing the rest with gesture controls. The gestures are well thought out, as they grant you almost complete control even when the keyboard is in mini-mode, which excludes the space-bar, 'backspace', and 'enter' keys. Quick flicks, drags, taps, and holds in four directions let you access symbols and numbers, simulate space and backspace buttons, shift letters, replace words, and add punctuation. The system does have a learning curve, but it's not overwhelming. If you happen to fall for Fleksy, getting used to it will happen naturally with usage, and it will pay off. But you can simply use the traditional buttons if you will.


3. Typing efficiency


Fleksy currently holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest software keyboard in the world. It employs a number of engines to maintain its royalty. For starters, it integrates with your Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and text messages to extract the names of your contacts and discover new words related to those you usually type. Second, Fleksy takes into account both the characters you type and the pattern your fingers tap-danced to get to them, which means the app can guess which word you intended to type even if you punched in all the wrong letters. Finally, the app has substantial dictionaries and is eager to learn new words from you in case it fails to come up with the right AutoCorrect suggestion. Of course, a customizable dictionary is a staple of all keyboard apps.

In practice, Fleksy performs superbly in writing plain text. The word replacement accuracy is amazing most of the time, but the app doesn't fare as well in understanding more 'colorful' text containing unusual or jargon words, and there are some problems with auto-correcting names. Those from your contacts will be recognized by the app, which should be enough anyway, but manually adding names to the dictionary so they don't get auto-corrected is something you might resent doing. Then again, this is a burden of most predicative keyboards, and a complex problem to solve of its own. Still, for jotting down quick messages, emails and statuses, Fleksy is reliable and lighting-fast. And besides, most of the times you can just swipe up, and the word you didn't want auto-corrected will return.


4. Misc features


Fleksy stands out with a good selection of extra features. Along with the already mentioned social network personalization and typing engines, it has a comprehensive knowledge base, a built-in Guinness World Record challenge, a gamification system which rewards your typing efforts with badges, and the oddball 'Invisible Keyboard' feature which lets you type visible words on invisible keys. The badges are brilliant and add a lot of positive mood to the experience. There are also over 600 emoji to portray your abstract emotional states, along with plenty of options for customizing the keyboard's responsiveness and functionality to suit your needs.



FEATURED VIDEO

26 Comments

1. yonith

Posts: 228; Member since: Sep 11, 2012

I stopped using Swiftkey because of it's horrible lag and missing keystrokes. At first I thought it was my phone (overclocked SGS3) but then I upgraded to the LG G2 and it was still occurring. I switched to the Android L keyboard and haven't looked back. It never misses a beat.

6. bestmvno

Posts: 251; Member since: Mar 07, 2014

Never experienced such a thing on either Nexus 5, SGS2 or SGS3. Are you sure you are not thinking about swype? Swype at one point used to suffer these problems. My swiftkey issue is that it's not the best at swiping or "flowing", although the latest update has improved things.

12. Fellwalker

Posts: 541; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

I agree on lag with my nexus 5 and nexus 7 2013 and SwiftKey . Some days I start typing and find that it has missed 90% of what I typed.

14. bestmvno

Posts: 251; Member since: Mar 07, 2014

Hmmm. I've had the nexus 5 since February and have not experienced this ever. Are you using Davlik or ART for a run time? I'm using ART.

8. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Android L keyboard is the best by far.

13. hunted

Posts: 403; Member since: Sep 21, 2011

Is Android L keyboard available for free?

15. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Of course. :)

11. nodes

Posts: 1162; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

I always go back to stock/vanilla keyboard in the end, which is the most lag-free of all.

19. saiki4116

Posts: 413; Member since: Mar 31, 2011

The prediction engine in SwiftKey is very aggressive, it assumes that most of times you would mistype, it had been issue for me as I type my mother tongue in English. I am also using Android L keyboard

23. ideal_josh

Posts: 34; Member since: Nov 26, 2012

go to SwiftKey settings and change it. lol

2. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2280; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Swype, for me. Since 2010 (Symbian times).

3. surethom

Posts: 1729; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Swiftkey is my fav but with swift turned off. I have tried so many but swiftkey is the best i find & love the number keypad layout.

4. CaptainManlyMan

Posts: 12; Member since: Jan 31, 2014

I'm using Fleksy, and have never looked back. I love this keyboard. XD

5. ghanemsam

Posts: 64; Member since: Nov 21, 2012

SwiftKey is the best

7. LikeMyself

Posts: 631; Member since: Sep 23, 2013

Google keyboard does the job perfectly for me in all my devices! Its gesture typing is fast, accurate and fluid! It's better optimized than the above keyboards!

10. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

I'm not so happy with it. It works most of the time, but it can also be sluggish and incorrect at times. Besides, what's with it inside comboxes? It seems to lose half of its functionality when typing in them on Chrome.

9. Max_Boost

Posts: 101; Member since: Sep 22, 2012

Swiftkey >>> *

16. sprockkets

Posts: 1612; Member since: Jan 16, 2012

Weird. How can fleksy been on the apple app store since July of 2012 when apple didn't allow 3rd party keyboards???

18. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1249; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

Exactly what I was thinking.

20. luis.d

Posts: 354; Member since: Dec 04, 2013

Fleksy launched as a stand-alone keyboard app. Basically, you type your stuff, and go paste it in Facebook and Twitter. Today, there are Fleksy-integrated apps on the app store which use its SDK to have it built-in as their custom keyboard. Swiftkey also did something similar with its Swiftkey Note app.

17. sirrichard unregistered

I have an LG G3 and am using ai type plus keyboard (last two phones) and really love it. I don't know why it is not considered among the best.

21. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Using Swype now. Bored with swiftkey after using it for a year. Was good. But I need a change. Swype is good for me now.

22. Even4steven

Posts: 45; Member since: Aug 03, 2012

Swype has taught me that input method is an underrated component of the whole phone experience. I struggle to understand how Apple users have hung in there without keyboard choices and the usefulness of alternatives.

24. RandomUsername

Posts: 808; Member since: Oct 29, 2013

I prefer Minuum because standard QWERTY keyboard suck on my small screen ;)

25. Caspid

Posts: 4; Member since: Dec 29, 2013

I really wanted to like Flesky, but it was terrible compared to SwiftKey. The predictions weren't nearly as accurate. You can't click on them and swiping down to try the next prediction is horribly slow/cumbersome. It seems a lot less forgiving of errors than SwiftKey. There's no keyboard indication for symbols. Trying to type numbers is excruciating without a dedicated number row. There are no next word predictions. You can't swipe to type at all (I do this when i have to text one-handed). On top of all this, it's not even free. I'm guessing Fleksy's world record for speed was set without predictions allowed, as nothing could be faster than simply tapping on SwiftKey's next-word predictions.

26. leoavi94

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 24, 2015

Swift key's auto correct and prediction are useless except for English.. Since I use hinglish there is not a single keyboard that can predict and work better than swype.. But I don't know why it lags a lot. I wish it was smooth like swiftkey.. But when I have to type in English I use Fleksy.. Hands down it is seriously the best and fastest keyboard on the planet.. It reminds me the days of physical QWERTY keyboards. I don't have to even look at my phone while typing I just keep tapping my fingers and voilà.. I got it free through an offer at Amazon app store :D Who don't like freebies :P

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.