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


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

Developed by the artificial intelligence experts at Nuance, mostly known for building the backbone of Siri, Swype is one of the most powerful keyboard apps out there. It boasts outstanding platform compatibility and the bragging rights to being the first one to let users swipe instead of tap characters. The novel typing method caught on and is still one of the app's main strengths. Here's how the Android version fares today.

1. Look and feel


Swype has a safe approach - visually, it closely follows the familiar Google keyboard layout, while building on its functionally. The customizations extend to choosing one of 15 themes, four of which seem to be modeled after the top four US carriers' brand colors. There's the Red theme for Verizon customers, the Cloud (blue and gray) for AT&T loyals, the Sunrise (yellow) theme for Sprint subscribers, and Magenta for the Un-carrier crowd.

The keyboard is dense with shortcuts. Next to each symbol is painted a smaller one, and you will have some trouble seeing it on some of the darker themes. Instead of switching to a numbers keyboard, long-press on the upper row keys, and you'll get numbers. Long-press on the a, and you'll get a '@', along with all the variations of the character you could possibly need. Or disregard pressing, and just swipe them towards the space-bar. It's convenient. And all the swiping you'll be doing looks and feels great - it's smooth and responsive. It's like navigating a literal line of thought across the keys.


2. Control efficiency


Being a powerful keyboard app, Swype lets you have four input and control methods at your disposal - seamlessly and all in the same time. There's typing, swiping, gesture controls, and voice dictation. The typing doesn't feel any better or worse than the stock Google keyboard, but having quick access to characters is a welcome bonus. Swiping is Swype's bread and butter, and is quite the magical way to enter characters. The only thing that could stop you from using it is if you enjoy typing on your touchscreen more than continuously swiping on it. The gesture controls are neatly explained in the app's 'Gestures' menu, and also appear in the form of tips as you type. They are a natural part of Swype, as they are literally about swiping from one key to another. They give you quick and logical access to editing and number keyboards, punctuation, cut/copy/paste features, and language switching. It's a well thought out system for sure, but it does have a learning curve to it. Finally, there's Dragon voice dictation. Nuance's voice recognition technology is quite advanced and dictating none-too-exotic words is a breeze. However, Dragon might not always know where to put proper capitalization and punctuation.


3. Typing efficiency


Typing in Swype is an easy, pleasant experience. The word replacement accuracy is great, and the swiping engine yields mostly the desired words, which seems quite magical indeed, as you draw all those weird shapes, twists and turns on the keyboard. It's not only that, though. The automatic insertion of spaces and capital letters is a godsend, and the swipe-based gestures make it very easy and quick to insert symbols and punctuation marks. Swype also has Fleksy-like integration with Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter, pulling new words and contact names out of their social bubbles. That, and the 'Living Language' component, which automatically updates the dictionary with very popular words, ensure a satisfying degree of success in world replacement.


4. Misc features


Swype is a workhorse keyboard that doesn't have the room to party with badges and emoji. Yes, emoji seemed a bit too much to ask for, it seems. But the keyboard does have something to show its competitors. It has 'Next word prediction' which aims to read your mind based on what text you previously entered; 'Smart Editor', which underlines any words that might seem incorrect. It also has the ability to backup and sync your dictionary, which works over cellular connection as well. There's also the option to split the keyboard in two, in both portrait and landscape modes - a feature LG eagerly 'borrowed' for the LG G3.

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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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