Swiftkey Keyboard Beta launched on the Google Android market, you can download it by scanning the qr-code after the break. There has been a selection of good virtual keyboard replacements available on the Google Android Market, Thickbuttons, Swype and Shapewriter come to mind. So what makes Swiftkey a good keyboard alternative?
Swiftkey uses a proprietary predictive text algorithm to anticipate what you are going to type next. This has been done before see our review of Thickbuttons here. So what makes Swiftkey special?
“Unlike old prediction technology that simply relies on word lists, Swiftkey uses complex language models that understand how words are combined with sentences,” said Jon Reynolds developer and TouchType’s chief executive officer.
“We’ve analyzed over 50 billion words in nine major languages to build the models that drive our prediction engine, “ according to Ben Medlock, Touchtype’s Chief Technical Officer and co-developer. “Swiftkey is the first text entry app on the market to harness the incredible power of statistical language processing. It takes predictive text to a whole new level, resulting in an unparalleled user experience.”
You can watch a short YouTube video below that demonstrates the Swiftkey keyboard in action.
So how does all this technology translate into the aforementioned keyboard? Let me say surprising well! I can’t confirm Swiftkeys claim of up to a 50% improvement in typical typing speed. The only way for me to get that kind of speed increase is to have someone else do the typing , but their predictive algorithm works very well.
My favorite feature of the Swiftkeys keyboard has nothing to do with the speed of the keyboard or the excellence of the predictive text algorithm but rather the layout of the on screen keyboard. I’m not sure what constitutes typical keyboard usage on a smartphone. I use the keyboard on my phone sparingly. Usually to dispatch text messages or a couple of short replies to emails. Checking my own usage stats within the Swifkey settings menu it says I was 18% more efficient and that feels about right to me.
With most keyboards you have to flip between screens to enter numbers or special characters with Swiftkey you can access Letters, numbers, punctuation marks and special characters and keyboard setting all from the main keyboard screen. I really appreciate that!
After evaluating the beta, I’m now using Swiftkeys full time on my Nexus One. The one feature from the stock Android keyboard I’m missing is the microphone key and Touchtype has stated that it is high on its development priorities behind a few bug fixes and functionality improvements.
Swiftkey is expecting the program to be out of beta by mid-September according to Joe Braidwood, Touchtype Chief Marketing Officer. “You’ll be pleased to know we’re releasing an update tomorrow that makes a raft of improvements to the software, and in our first week on the Android Market (i.e. through tonight) we’ve had well over 100,000 downloads.”
The expected price for the full release should be $3.99 on the Android Market.
Our Rating 4 out of 5
- Screen Layout
- Predictive text works very well
- Ease of use
- No microphone key
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