Android keyboard app shoot-out - Fleksy, Minuum, Swiftkey, and Swype battle for glory
|Developer: Swiftkey||Download: Android|
|Genre: Keyboard||Price: Free (with in-app purchases)|
Good old Swiftkey! This keyboard has been rocking it in the Google Play Store before it was called the Play Store! It was first released in 2010, and four years later, it remains a remarkable contender. Let's see if the veteran can still show the young cadets a trick or two, then!
1. Look & feel
Swiftkey can be a different monster depending on the time of the day and your mood. It has two layouts - one keyboard-like, and one characters-on-an-artsy-background-like, along with plenty of themes to make them look fresh. Both feel good to type and swipe on. Essentially, Swiftkey follows the Google keyboard paradigm too, but the keys (in the keyboard layout) are spacier and more refined. Like in Swype, there are additional characters available by pressing and holding on the key. No matter which layout you settle for, you can customize it by adding a row of numbers and getting to choose accented versions of each character. You can also have the number pad to the left if you are so inclined, and long-pressing on the Enter key brings out the emoji. There's a vast collection of over 800 emoticons - so many that the menu literally lags when your browse it. Well, so be it!
2. Control efficiency
The big omission in Swiftkey are gestures. Well, it's not exactly an omission - it's just that the gestures are very few, and disabled while swiping is enabled. While Swype handles both swiping and gesture integration brilliantly, Swiftkey lags behind, while technology has proven that we can totally have both. If you disable the swipe functionality, called Swiftkey Flow, you'll be able to use three gestures - slide horizontally to delete a word, slide down to minimize, and slide up to capitalize. They feel more like an afterthought. As a whole, Swiftkey controls and performs pretty well for a keyboard, but aside from word replacement, its not exceptional in any way and we feel that some stock Android keyboards have already caught up to it in this regard.
3. Typing efficiency
Due to the lack of gestures, typing with Swiftkey doesn't differ much from using a stock Android keyboard, unless you mostly rely on swiping - and at that point, it seems all keyboards have nailed swipe input. Word replacement happens with ease - although its very accurate, the technology isn't too strict, as is the case with most competitors. You will get away with typing names and jargon without Swiftkey trying to correct absolutely everything, which is quite the relief at times. Accessing symbols and other shortcuts by long-pressing is remarkably brisk. Voice input relies on Google's voice recognition technology, which has proven itself with time. Overall, Swiftkey is perfectly good for typing - just not very dynamic or, well, swift, due to the absence of gestures.
4. Misc features
Kinetic it might be not, but Swiftkey is feature-rich. Like its competitors, the app has a cloud service that cares for your dictionary backups and personalizations from social networks - you will see a lot of the language you use every day show up in word suggestions. You can have the spacebar complete the current word you're slaving at, simply insert a space, or insert a predication. The spacebar can be double-tapped to insert a period, and emojis can be predicted according to the words you type. Finally, Swiftkey has interesting usage statistics, such as a typing heatmap generated by your fingers, number of keystrokes the app saved, number of corrected typos, and more.