SwiftKey 4 released for Android (hands on): Best keyboard for Android

Summary:The best mobile keyboard just got even better with the release of SwiftKey 4 for both Android phones and tablets.

SwiftKey 4 in use

I have been using the SwiftKey keyboard on both Android phones and tablets since its first version. SwiftKey learns how a user writes over time to provide predictive text entry that is uncanny in its accuracy. SwiftKey 4 has just been released that adds Swipe-like entry called SwiftKey Flow that can be intermingled with regular touch typing.

I have been using SwiftKey 4 for a while on both my Note 2 phone and my Nexus 7 tablet. The two versions work the same; the tablet version takes advantage of the bigger screen.

There are lots of new features in SwiftKey 4 to make even existing users happy. The most notable additions are:

  • SwiftKey Flow: Write by gliding your finger on the keyboard.
  • Multimodal - SwiftKey Flow can be mixed with tap input, with switching mid-word.
  • Mid-word completion: when you see the word you want just lift your finger off and the word will be inserted.
  • Flow Through Space: Gesture multiple words without lifting a finger, just by sliding your finger down to the space bar between words
  • Flow with next-word prediction: when you finish flowing a word, SwiftKey immediately shows you its best guesses for your next word

The strength of SwiftKey's predictive text accuracy is in the way it learns over time by watching what the user enters. It gets more accurate the longer it is used.

New users can benefit from this learning as the option exists at install time to scan the user's Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook entries to learn all at once how the user writes. If allowed to do this learning SwiftKey is very accurate right after the install. The developers are clear they do nothing with this access to users' social networks and email but use the information in the starting algorithm accuracy.

The SwiftKey Flow input method works much like Swype -- you enter words by sliding your finger over the keyboard to spell them. It uses the predictive entry that SwiftKey is famous for to make the entry very accurate at even a very fast rate.

The Flow entry can be mixed with regular key tapping, even switching among the two methods mid-word. You can use SwiftKey 4 whatever way works best for you with extremely accurate results.

SwiftKey 4 is now available in the Google Play Store for a special price of $1.99. The regular price is $3.99 which this writer also considers a bargain. It is the preferred keyboard for every Android device I use.

Take a look at SwiftKey 4 in action in the following video.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Apps


James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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