Fleksy appears to be taking things beyond the keyboard with their latest update. They view themselves as the primary input method on your device, and as such you shouldn’t be limited to simply text and emojis.
Beyond a more Material Design-inspired look for the app, the extensions are the most significant addition. There are currently seven extensions available: GIF Keyboard, Launcher, Shortcuts, Editor, Invisible Keyboard, Numbers Row and Rainbow Pops. You can enable up to three of these at a time in the app and pay to unlock more.
Regardless of how you feel about GIFs, there are plenty of folks online that basically communicate exclusively in GIF form, and Fleksy may have just become the keyboard for them. If you enable this extension you can access a curated set of GIFs sorted by category by just hitting the emoji button to the left of the keyboard. This is powered by Giphy and is an extensive collection, but at least at the moment I don’t see any way to add your own GIFs to the keyboard, which would be a nice feature for those with an existing collection.
The Launcher will probably have more general appeal and, as you likely guessed, it allows you to quickly launch your favorite apps directly from the keyboard. To add an app to the launcher you just swipe up from the top row of the keyboard when you are in the app and hit the plus button. Up to six apps can be added here.
Shortcuts is another great addition to Fleksy. It allows you to program in abbreviations that will convert into whatever you like. Their example is “omw” which will automatically correct to “on my way” when entered. It’s a great timesaver once you get used to using it.
Numbers Row is exactly as it sounds; it adds a row of numbers at the top of your keyboard.
Editor gives you access to some more robust editing options than are typically available in the keyboard. These tools appear immediately above your keyboard and from left to right include a select all button, a copy button, a button that when you press and drag allows you to place your cursor, a paste button and a cut button.
Invisible Keyboard makes your keyboard disappear by just swiping down on it with two fingers. You can still see the faint outline of the keyboard, though, and you’re still able to type. I was dubious that this would work at all, but with the autocorrection it actually performs quite well. I don’t think you would want to make this a permanent thing, so to bring the keyboard back you just swipe up with two fingers.
Rainbow Key Pops just makes the letters produce a different color of the rainbow each time they are pressed; not terribly productive, but if you want a splash of color with your typing, there you go.
I found a number of the extensions to be quite useful in my limited time with the app so far, but I’m not sure whether I would pay to unlock the ability to use more than three at a time. Shortcuts would definitely make the list for me and probably Editor, but I’m undecided on the third at the moment.
You see plenty of your keyboard everyday while you use your phone, so themes to make it look a bit more interesting seem like a logical addition. There are six color schemes available by default and then you can select a seventh from a group of four.
From there you are looking at an in-app purchase to unlock additional themes. There are 11 additional theme packs available for purchase right now, and they vary in price for $0.99 up to $2.99. Perhaps the most interesting one for Android users is “Chameleon,” which changes color to match the app that you are currently using. There are also some branded themes like “Frozen” and “Hunger Games.” I think the pricing on these themes could use a little work, as $2.99 for Chameleon is $1 more than the app itself. Some of the other bundles include three additional colors for $0.99 and then you have “Gold” that runs $1.99 and includes just the one color. While I’m 100 percent in favor of app developers being able to get paid for their work, this feels a little like IAPs run amok.
Overall I think Fleksy has done a great job with this update and has added a number of truly useful features to their keyboard (along with some that are simply fun), and they indicated in their blog post announcing the update that they have plenty more planned for next year. Despite my complaint regarding the pricing on some of the themes, I have no doubt there are users that will appreciate them and happily pay to make one of the most used apps a more custom look.
If you are an existing Fleksy user the update is free, and I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t install it. If you haven’t given Fleksy a shot before then maybe give the trial version a run first; it gives you the full experience for 30 days before you need to plunk down your $1.99.