Review: SwiftKey

Review: SwiftKey

 

If you’re an Android user, you may already be familiar with an app that comes integrated into some devices, called Swype. Swype allows you to type faster–in theory, anyway–by quickly dragging your finger from letter to letter to type, rather than lifting up your finger and tapping each key individually.

SwiftKey for Android works almost exactly the same way. To type a word, you put your finger on the first letter and drag to the second, then the third. You don’t have to be incredibly accurate for the app to guess which word you’re after, which means with some practice you can get pretty good at it.

The difference between Swype and SwiftKey is that the latter can learn from your typing habits. You can hook it up with a bunch of commonly used online services–Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and an RSS feed–and also your text messaging service on your device. 

When you first boot up the app, you’ll have to go through a series of simple steps to set it up. You’ll choose from a selection of 60 languages, which includes three different variations of English, and have to choose to use SwiftKey over your default keyboard. Then it gives you the option of linking to your online accounts.

Unfortunately, none of the online services would work for me–no matter how many times I tried to hook them up, over both Wi-Fi and 3G, I just couldn’t connect SwiftKey to Facebook, Gmail, or any of my other regularly-used services. There was also no mention of server downtime on the SwiftKey blog. But after hooking the app up to my texts, SwiftKey tells me I’m 19% more efficient at typing, so that’s something at least.

Still, I saw a lot of the below loading screen.

 

SwiftKey’s usage stats tell you all kinds of mildly interesting things about your typing, such as how many keystrokes you’ve saved, how many typos SwiftKey has corrected, how many of your next words the app’s predicted and how far, in metres, you’ve dragged your finger across the screen while using the app.

Perhaps the best feature of SwiftKey, however, is the ability to split your keyboard in two when you turn the phone into landscape mode. While it means that you might want to go back to tapping on keys rather than dragging your finger around, it’s good to split the keyboard when you’ve got a large device like a tablet, or a large phone like the Samsung Galaxy Note or Note II.

If you’re unsure whether SwiftKey will work for you, you can download a one-month trial for free. After that, buying the app will cost you $3.99 in the Google Play store.

If you’re forced to work from your phone relatively often, as so many people are in these BYOD, constantly-connected days, SwiftKey may help you make your typing quicker and more accurate. Just be aware that some of the online features may not work as expected.