The never ending quest for the right keyboard may be harsh, but it is something that every Android enthusiast must go through. A keyboard is a very personal part of your phone, since it is the tool that lets you communicate with others (messaging), and the world (wide web?). It also helps facilitate many functions that your devices perform.
TouchType has worked their hardest to bring a keyboard that is not only intuitive, but it learns your ways of typing. It gets to a point when you even feel like it is reading your mind. It actually predicts your next word before you input any letters. Think of it as a smart keyboard, or as I like to say, a close friend. One of those that friends that “finish your sentences.”
The guys from TouchType have recently put out two new keyboard replacement applications; Swiftkey X (for phone) and Swiftkey Tablet X. Many of you may have used Swiftkey X when it was released on Beta a few months ago (May 2011). Many others may have used the original Swiftkey Keyboard, which was also known for its great mind-reading abilities. Back then, Taylor classified Swiftkey Keyboard as “one of the best keyboard replacement apps out there,” and we must say, that Swiftkey X and Tablet X are definitely still in that category. Let’s see why.
Theme & Layout
This is pretty much where both versions of the keyboard really differentiate themselves from each other. While the smartphone keyboard has the regular layout that we are used to see (wide), the tablet version has the option to turn into a “split” keyboard (Much like Thumb Keyboard), for typing while holding the tablet with both hands. If you do decide to have a regular keyboard, there is a shortcut key on the keyboard itself, which allows you to quickly change from one mode to the other (The key right next to the space bar on the left side of the keyboard).
As you can see, the normal layout is pretty much what you have seen in other keyboards. The split keyboard from Swiftkey Tablet X is definitely a plus, though. It works great and it has definitely improved my typing speed and comfort. Tablet users know that it can be a pain to type on a tablet while holding it. Compared to Thumb Keyboard, I personally like Swiftkey Tablet X for the more intuitive simplicity, and for the predictions. Some of you may not care about prediction, and may like the broader spectrum of choices and middle keys on Thumb Keyboard though. Check out Thumb Keyboards options on the image to the left.
Swiftkey Tablet X only has one mode, but it is simple, and it gets the job done. While it would be nice to see it offer more keys in the middle (like Thumb Keyboard), Swiftkey Tablet x’s layout makes it look much more clean and aesthetically pleasing while keeping its functionality. That part depends on personal preference, though. It may seem like there is too much empty, unused space.
The themes are basically the same for both keyboards. There is Dark, Light, and Neon (images below, in the same order). As you can see, the Dark theme seems like a much more neutral Android-like keyboard, whereas the Light theme looks more iPhone-like, and the Neon is just a whole other breed.
Predictions & Personalizing – Making the keyboard your closest friend
What really makes this keyboard outstanding is its amazing prediction system, powered by TouchType’s Fluency 2.0 engine. This mind-reading keyboard will surprise you once it actually learns your typing habits. This process has actually been shortened by Swiftkey X’s new learning options. As we have mentioned before, Swiftkey X needed to slowly learn your typing habits, by using it. With Swiftkey X, you can give TouchType access to your Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and SMS messages (smartphones only). This will speed up the learning process, and it will improve predictions and suggestions.
The keyboard even lets you download multiple language packs (if you happen to be multi-lingual), and they all work together on your predictions. I have downloaded the English and Spanish packs. Sometimes I type in Spanish, sometimes in English, and sometimes even in “Spanglish.” I was actually quite surprised to see that this keyboard was correcting and predicting my words in both languages, even if I used different languages in one sentence.
Once you have gone through this bonding process, typing becomes much faster and intuitive, as soon as you get used to the keyboard. There are two main options for typing – Precise and Rapid. Precise is for careful typers who are more likely to choose predictions instead of relying on auto-correction. Rapid mode, on the other hand, is for people who type fast and make more mistakes. These people would expect their keyboard to auto-correct those mistakes, something that Swiftkey X does beautifully.
The Precise mode is the mode that was already on the original swiftkey, so you might be familiar with it. It basically works on reducing your keystrokes by giving you better suggestions and predictions. If you have used the keyboard before, you will know that the predictions are amazing. Swiftkey X will even predict your next word before you type a single letter, and that does include made up words.
When set on rapid mode, this keyboard actually works great. In my opinion, though, suggestions were just as good on Precise and Rapid mode. During testing, I would intentionally make many typos on my writing, and Swiftkey would catch the mistakes most of the time. Sometimes i would write words only stroking keys that are right next to the intended one, and it would correct it to the right one for me. In general, I would say only 1 out of 15 or 20 mistakes were usually not corrected. In such cases, it is quite easy to fix those few mistakes, and you can even slide your finger from right to left to delete, instead of actually pressing the backspace button.
There is one little thing I had to get used to. When on Rapid mode, the spacebar is automatically set to “always insert a prediction.” This would catch me off guard mostly after using a comma or period. If that spacebar mode is chosen, the keyboard actually makes a space after correcting a word (does both in one stroke). After placing the period, my first instinct would be to press a space and start the new sentence, which would enter the suggested prediction (Most times the word “I”). You could simply get used to this, or it could be easily fixed by switching to spacebar to “always insert a space,” or “complete the current word.”
Watch the videos embedded at the bottom of the post for a demonstration.
Price & Availability
If you choose to purchase one of these keyboards, they are both available on the Android Market. Those that have purchased the original Swiftkey app will be able to upgrade to Swiftkey X (Phone) at no extra charge. As for the rest of us, Swiftkey X (Phone) goes for $3.99, while Swiftkey Tablet X costs $4.99. The price is a bit higher than keyboards usually cost, but this product is definitely worth the price if you will be taking advantage of what it offers. Hit the links below to purchase the app, or just use the QR code to download it directly through your device.
Swiftkey X and Swiftkey Tablet X offer about the best prediction/auto-correction that I have ever used. It will definitely help you improve your typing efficiency, and the new learning options work amazingly. I used the keyboard without it learning anything for a while, and I must say that it really is a big difference. I had to manually delete and correct words on my own much more often. After letting Swiftkey X study my life for a while, things just went much smoother. This keyboard really does get to know you well.
Another of the exciting features of these keyboards is the split tablet keyboard. This along with those predictions have made my typing much faster and comfortable. According to the Swiftkey Tablet X keyboard my typing was 24% more efficient, with 5855 entered characters and 1551 keystrokes saved (mostly set on rapid mode).
I would definitely recommend this keyboard, but it would be mostly for its predictions and the tablet split keyboard. If non of those matter to you, there is not much too special about Swiftkey X (Unless you really like one of the themes). If you happen to like the keyboard but don’t want predictions, you can simply ignore them and set the space bar to “always insert a space.”
Where Swiftkey X really shines is is the word prediction. You can authorize Swiftkey X to learn from your Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and Text Messages. As a result, Swiftkey personalizes itself to your typing preferences which results in insanely accurate text prediction. I’ve been using Swiftkey X for phones for about 2 or 3 months now, and it’s insane how accurate the prediction has gotten.
Though I can wholeheartedly recommend the Swiftkey X for phone application, I have been a bit less than impressed with it’s tablet counterpart. It could just be a personal preference, but I just can’t seem to get used to typing with two thumbs on a 10″ tablet, even with a split keyboard. Simply put, I’ve found myself preferring either the stock keyboard and typing as I would on a normal keyboard or Swype’s beta.
For me, Swiftkey is hands down the keyboard of choice for phones. You won’t find a keyboard that can more accurately predict what you’re going to say next; and the speed the keyboard allows you to type at is truly phenomenal.
That being said, I have a hard time recommending Swiftkey Tablet X. As much as I tried to get into it, I simply couldn’t get used to thumb typing in landscape mode on a 10″ tablet, and the standard keyboard layout really isn’t enough to justify the $5 price point. Edgar seems to like it though, so you may want to give it a shot for yourself before you simply take my word for it.