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


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

Minuum is a keyboard that will blow your mind! It's the world's only app that compresses an entire keyboard into a single row of characters... and completely works! It's also the only keyboard fit for smart-watches, unless you're willing to devote 80% of their tiny screen to letters. Minuum is truly innovative and if you take a few minutes to read more about the algorithms and methods it uses to work its magic, you will walk away very impressed.

1. Look and feel


Minuum is a two-headed beast. You can have it either as a conventional Android keyboard, or let it show its true colors and minimize it to a single row of buttons. You can switch between the two on the fly by holding two fingers on the keys. We felt like the standard layout is better for more elaborate typing, as there is less chance the auto-correct will monkey up more unusual words, while the miniature layout is absolutely bomb for casual messaging. Your mileage may vary.

Unlike its competitors, Minuum has just three built-in themes and the option to choose custom background and foreground colors. Minuum has a certain logic to it that doesn't lend well to heavy skinning. Aside from colors, you can customize certain elements' height very precisely by adjusting it in pixels.


2. Control efficiency


Minuum is pretty minimal when it comes to gesture control. The option to enable or disable it goes hand in hand with the space-bar - you can either turn off the spacebar and have gestures, turn gestures off and have the spacebar, or have them both. Killing the spacebar will shave off an additional pixel or 10 from Minuum's miniature presence. As for the gesture controls, they are basic and intuitive - swipe left to backspace/delete, swipe right to space, swipe to the left diagonal to activate voice input, and swipe to the right diagonal to enter. Having to learn and rely on a mere four gestures makes for a small, easy learning curve.

Additionally, Minuum takes a hint from Swype, and populates its keys with symbol shortcuts. Press and hold on a key, choose the needed symbol, and go on typing. This works just a tad slower than Swype, but it's still very usable. The 'Shift' key contains some additional shortcuts, such as a number pad, keyboard minimize and maximize, access to the Settings menu, voice input, and a shortcut for choosing the default keyboard. If you activate the so-called "Bonus menu", look for a star in the right corner, and press it. You'll get an additional row that lets you scroll between emoji, a directional pad, a copy and paste menu, a dictionary search menu, and a words-per-minute meter. While it might seem a bit overwhelming, having so much functionality on tap in so little space is a standout for Minuum. Finally, punctuation happens by double-spacing. Overall, Minuum controls swiftly, and is a prime example of making the most out of very little space. Once again, very impressive!


3. Typing efficiency


To get the most out of Minuum, you will have to learn to trust its auto-correct more than anything else in your life. It's worth it, because the word replacement accuracy is very good, and when you scale down the keyboard to its miniaturized mode, it's pure black magic unveiling itself before you. Instead of making you type better, Minuum embraces your sloppiness and uses it to get better at literally trying to understand what you meant to type. It evaluates input by a spatial model that measures your typing precision, and a language model built from huge bodies of real-world text. For the most part, it works, and when it does, it's downright amazing - it makes other keyboards look archaic in comparison.

This doesn't mean you'll necessarily type better on Minuum, though. Realistically, it means you'll get a very adequate touch typing and auto-correct experience while having significantly more screen space available to you. This is of disputable importance on modern large-screen devices, but it's arguably the future when it comes to smart-watches. Also, typing a long word that will be confusing to spell out even in the realm of pen and paper, on a one-row keyboard, and being understood... is astounding!


4. Misc features


Minuum is light on bonus features. It has the option of importing words from the Android user dictionary, along with the names of your contacts. This way, the keyboard won't auto-correct their names. You can also backup and restore your typing data at any time, or reset everything. Also, there are some technical options for enabling and disabling animations, the enter-to-send function, auto capitalization and spacing, and more.

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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: 538; 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: 1159; 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: 2277; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

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

3. surethom

Posts: 1691; 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: 1245; 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 voilĂ .. I got it free through an offer at Amazon app store :D Who don't like freebies :P

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