App of the Month – SwiftKey

App of the Month – SwiftKey

There are certain apps and programs that I use daily and can’t imagine living without, so I’ve decided to share some of my favorites.  For the first of my “App of the Month” posts I picked the keyboard app for Android phones and tablets called SwiftKey.

Not everyone knows it but you can change keyboards in Android if you don’t like the stock keyboard.  In fact, you can customize almost every aspect of an Android phone to your liking. Having come from an iPhone (that I loved) this was a welcome change.  I still use my iPad daily but really dislike the stock keyboard. Especially since I came across SwiftKey.

What makes SwiftKey so great?

SwiftKey has an amazing word-prediction system at its core.  The more you use it, the more it learns the way you type. As you’re typing it constantly gives you 3 choices of what it thinks you are trying to type. If the word in the center is what you want simply hit the spacebar and it types it in for you.  This is where it gets good.  After the first word is in, it starts predicting what your next word might be.  If you see the word you want in the three choices just tap it and move on.  I’ve typed texts and emails where I’ve gone 10+ words without typing a key.  It’s like it knows what I’m thinking. It’s almost creepy how it works.  The app can even be set to analyze your sent Google email, Facebook posts, and sent tweets to determine commonly used words and phrases.  SwiftKey’s predictive abilities are my absolute favorite reason for loving the app but it has a lot more features than that.

What about Swype?

swiftkey-flowSwype is another extremely popular android keyboard. Instead of typing words you slide your finger from letter to letter to form the words. It is a really fast way of typing with an on-screen keyboard.  It may take you a little time to get used to it, but it can really make typing easier.  Me personally, I like actually typing, but I know a lot of people who swear by this slide-to-type style.  SwiftKey has a feature called SwiftKey Flow which gives you slide-to-type capabilities but even goes beyond that.  If you want to add a space while you’re typing simply swipe over the spacebar and keep on going.  The word-prediction system works with Flow too.  If it predicts the word you want just lift your finger off and it will fill it in for you.  From there you can either pick from one of the three predictions or start typing or sliding again. My experience says that one of the predictions will most likely be right.

SwiftKey Cloud

SwiftKey added backup and sync with SwiftKey Cloud.  If you use SwiftKey on multiple devices then all of your devices predict the same way for a more unified experience across all of your devices.  It can even be enhanced with Trending Phrases based on current news and what’s popular on Twitter.

Some Tips and Tricks

That’s the basics of how the SwiftKey app works.  I could go on and on about other features, but here are some tips and tricks for using it:

  • Swipe your finger from right to left across the keyboard to erase the last word.
  • Each key has a second symbol or number.  Press and hold any key to use its second function.
  • To add a word to its dictionary right away press and hold the word you want added.  Pick “Add to dictionary”
  • If the keys are too small or large you can adjust the height in the settings.
  • Typing_HeatmapCheck your “Stats” in the settings menu.  See how SwiftKey has improved your typing.
    • I’ve saved 89,701 keystrokes to date!
    • It’s corrected 31,516 of my typos.
    • A “Heatmap” even shows you how close you come to actually hitting the right key.
  • There are two typing styles.
    • “Precise” for careful typists who often choose predictions
    • “Rapid” for fast typists who rely heavily on auto-correction

What’s not to like?

I haven’t really found anything that I really don’t like about SwiftKey.  I’m not personally a fan of the slide-to-type style of typing, so I don’t use it. I only have the one phone using it right now so I don’t use the Cloud feature.  Not that I don’t like it, I just don’t need it.

The one thing I do hate about SwiftKey is when I switch back and forth between my Android phone and my iPad.  Apple’s keyboard drives me crazy! Don’t get me started.  Apple if you’re listening, let people have a choice in how they want to type on iOS.

The Bottom Line

For me it’s a no-brainer.  SwiftKey makes my day-to-day life better by making it easier to type on my phone.  I don’t even use many of SwiftKey’s newer features.  I’m actually still using SwiftKey 3 and they’re up to version 4.3.  My theory? Why mess with a good thing?  I recommend SwiftKey to everyone I know that uses an Android phone.  You can get a free one month trial and if you like it the app is only $4 anyway.  You can get the free version from the Google Play Store here. Worth every penny in my opinion.  I don’t get any sort of compensation if you buy it or not.  I’m just a huge fan.

If you try it out, or if you already use it, let me know what you think.

Check back next month for my next App of the Month.  If you have a favorite app for either Android or iOS let me know what it is.  I always love an excuse to try out a new app.