Swiftkey, resized and in portrait
Swiftkey, re-sized and in portrait

Today’s topic is keyboards. One of the very first apps I downloaded was a keyboard and I’ve never since settled for the stock supplied one because it’s never, ever been good enough. First I used TouchPal, then after a couple years and when it started to be an advert platform, I moved to Swiftkey. If you want to know why read on.

What does the App claim it can do?

Well, The authors claim “SwiftKey Keyboard uses Artificial Intelligence to automatically learn your writing style…” and that “…means auto-correct and predictive text that actually works because it adapts to you.” The prediction is also supposed to be applied to slang and emoji’s.

There are themes, designs and colors that can be applied and support for more than 80 languages. With SwiftKey you can use tap, or swipe to write individual words or sentences.

Does the App REALLY do what it claims to do?

Floating, with swipe
Floating, with swipe

It’s a keyboard, and it learns what I type, even my slang. The authors don’t really say very much about what the keyboard does.  In fact, there really isn’t much exciting about a keyboard, so why am I writing a review? Typically the stock keyboard forces you to tap each letter as you go and will offer correction suggestions. The stock keyboards are typically small, quick and optimized for the phone, so why use any other keyboard? The answer is simple, because you can. Third party keyboards normally offer more options, themes, and more. My preference is not to have to tap the screen every time I want to write a word. As a geek I also need one that I can use arrow keys because it’s really convenient when I use an ssh client to manage my Linux computers at home.

As soon as I had heard about Swype I loved the concept and when I had my first phone I instantly went looking for a keyboard that had that ability. The only one that I found that was any good at the time (with my phone) was Touchpal. This review is not for Touchpal however because it eventually kept bugging me with advertisements, so I had to move on.

Swiftkey numbers padFrom Touchpal I moved to Swiftkey, and the reviews on the internet are flattering and it really is one of the best swiping keyboard that I’ve used. It has a wonderful feature that isn’t in the list which is that you can configure the layout in portrait and in landscape differently. Trust me, this feature is awesome, because one of the layouts is a floating window that you can drag around. No longer do you need to have a keyboard that takes over your screen in landscape mode. There are other layouts as well including split, left and right side. This, as well as the swiping text feature is what separates this keyboard from the crowd. I’ve tried quite a few different keyboards and this one feature is rarely found.

What do I like most about the App?

I like that it has the ability to show cursor arrows for ssh clients and command line terminal apps however custom layouts, are my absolute number one love about this app. There are other keyboards that offer swiping, themes, colors and text prediction but the custom layouts for portrait and landscape make this keyboard shine. It’s a right pain in the proverbial when the keyboard takes the entire screen over when using a tablet in landscape mode.

What’s not to like about it?

Well, I had to remove it from my new phone (Samsung Duos SM-G355H) because the keyboard was not responsive enough. I think it is because of the system lag. As a result it would not register half of my words correctly and I spent all my time correcting mistakes. So it’s not that I don’t like this app, it’s more something I don’t like about my phone so, let’s face it… I don’t really have anything I don’t like about it.

What are the little niggles (What would make it perfect)?

If the app was quicker (optimized for speed) maybe I wouldn’t have to remove it from my phone. The app itself is a very large download, something like 27Mb so it tells me that there’s loads of features and therefore it needs a decent device to run on. I like the features, but it would be nice to be able to use it on lower end phones… perhaps a lite version with the key features would be great.

Why did I decide to keep/remove it?

I have it on my tablet which I will probably always will, but as I’ve said, I had to remove it from my phone.

Would my wife use it?

She could, because it’s simple enough to use, but she doesn’t have a need for it because she uses the “Google keyboard”