SwiftKey Autocorrect Android App Gets Gesture-based Typing [Video]
Today (Feb. 20) app maker SwiftKey introduced a new version of its autocorrecting keyboard app for Android phones and tablets, called SwiftKey 4. The new version, which sells for $4, adds additional languages, as well as the ability to slide a finger over the virtual keys to trace out words.
IPhones and Android phones are getting good at figuring out what word you meant to type when you were mashing your thumbs on the screen. But neither smartphone operating system tries to guess what the next word will be.
That's where SwiftKey comes in. The software has a built-in understanding of how people talk (in dozens of languages) and learns your idiosyncrasies as you use it. To demonstrate, an employee for SwiftKey (a British firm) began typing the word "hello," and the app suggested, "mate" as the next word, which he could just tap on to select instead of typing it out. When he typed "hey," however, SwiftKey guessed that the next word would be "dude."
With a dramatic flair, the company calls this "mind-reading capability." But sometimes, frankly, that's what it feels like.
(Unlike iOS devices, Android models allow you to install different onscreen keyboards. You download one like any other app, then go to Settings in the Android operating system and choose it as the default.)
Today SwiftKey introduced the fourth major upgrade since the app debuted in 2010. SwiftKey 4's big addition is "Flow," the ability to slide a finger across the keys to connect the letters, instead of having to tap the keys one by one.
Android owners may recognize this as resembling Swype — another keyboard app, as well as a feature built into some smartphone models, such as the Samsung Galaxy S III. Swype also has an impressive understanding of language and ability to predict the next word. (A beta version of Swype 1.45 is available for free download. Visit it directly from the browser of an Android phone or tablet.)
One interesting enhancement, though, is SwiftKey 4's cutely named "Flow Through Space" feature. Instead of lifting your finger from the keyboard before starting a new word — as you have to do with Swype — you can simply slide it over the spacebar and start tracing out the next word. For example, "how<space>are<space>you?" becomes, "How are you?" with SwiftKey. Tracing the same pattern on the Swype keyboard app yielded "Gleefully."
Beyond Flow, however, the app is still fascinating for what it was already able to do. It supports a plethora of languages, now 60 with recent additions. (Swype has a still-impressive 55.) The newly added languages include logical additions such as Thai and Vietnamese as well as off-the-beaten-path tongues such as Albanian and Bosnian. [See also: Software Revives Dead Languages]
You can set the keyboard to recognize up to three languages at once. So, for example, you can write in a mixture of English and French, and the app is still able to guess what you mean.
SwiftKey 4 is a free upgrade for people with the previous version. And for everyone else will be on sale at $2 for the next week before jumping to $4.