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

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.

TOPICS: Mobility, Android, Apps
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

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  • Apparently,

    if you were to lay it on your chest whilst having a wank, it will return a pre-set text to incoming calls: "I'll get back to you - I have my hands full!"

    Android is so hands above the competition, I couldn't even imagine jerking around with any other manual input devices!
    • Mildly amusing, but let's be grownups

      Is the thinly veiled allusion to self gratification really appropriate in a tech professional forum? Unless, of course, you're about 13 or 14 years old, in which case it's totally understandable and you're probably still giggling about it. You will need both hands though to type, though.
  • "Best Keyboard For Android" = "Best Keyboard For Any Mobile Device"

    Meanwhile, over in Jason O'Grady's column, they're arguing over how to persuade Apple's developers to support alternative keyboards. Because on IOS, keyboard support is not something that is automatically handled systemwide like in Android, it has to be specifically coded into every app.
    • Agree

      I'd never get an iPhone, but I was seriously thinking of a 920 (for the camera) until I realised I wouldn't have swype any more.
      It's android's killer feature as far as I'm concerned.
  • Swype

    I like Swype better
  • Swifkey 4 is broken

    Ever since I updated my Swiftkey, it has stopped working. I never used to use SD card on my S2 (more than an year old) but now Swiftkey is blackmailing me into getting an SD card. It has become apple like with Swiftkey asking me to get an SD card just like Steve Jobs started teaching people how to hold their phones. The whole thing is broken. There are a whole lot of people reporting bugs
    • Whole load...?

      Hmmm, sensing a no small amount of hyperbole in your post there, abledoc. You stated "There are a whole lot of people reporting bugs" yet a cursory look at Google Play reveals pages of 4 and 5 star reviews. "The whole thing is broken" you say. Just how is it broken or you given to making random idiotic statements without any justification just because you're an unhappy camper...?

      Me, I downloaded it at 5AM this morning, half asleep, enabled flow and wacked out three Facebook posts bemoaning the fact it was so bloody cold. Worked just fine for me. And I've NEVER used any flow type keyboard before.

      Dunno if what you say is true, that Swiftkey does need an SD card, but at 3 or 4 bucks (US) would it really kill you to buy one?

      To equate this to Apple's AntennaGate is laughable...
      Lost In Clouds of Data
    • Works for me

      I've been using SwiftKey 4 for a while and it's working fine on both the Note 2 and Nexus 7. Not sure what your problem is.
  • happy to try it!

    I have been looking for a replacement for the standard HTC keyboard on my DNA. I am not a fan of it and would like something new. I will def give this a try!
  • BB10 has Swiftkey baked into the OS free, and then makes it better

  • Works Great

    Wow I installed it and let it setup, it is so fast and very accurate. I am horrible when it comes to typing on these things and it took my errors and put the thoughts together just like I was trying to say!
    I have the writing comprehension of a 3 yr old on these devices sometimes. this makes it look like I passed the 5th grade at least!
  • What's the difference between this and the stock "swift" keyboard in JB?

    I am a relative Android newb, but am curious about this because I've seen a lot of people recommend it. My Galaxy Nexus running Jellybean has a "swiftkey" functionality that looks a lot like this app, as a native feature. Is this app significantly better? Genuinely curious. I like the native one a lot. I would be willing to give this a whirl if there was a discernible difference.
    • in the same boat

      I love the stock gesture typing in JB (whatever it's called) on my Nexus devices. I was very skeptical at first but it's uncanny how well it works. I'd be curious how Swiftkey compares to this as well.
    • Difference between JB and SwKey: Arrow Keys!

      I've used SwiftKey & Swype, but preferred Swiftkey's prediction ability and keyboard layout, so I defaulted to SwiftKey. However, I do really like the idea of swyping (if it is accurate).

      I got the nexus 4 a couple months ago and have been using the stock JB keyboard, which has pretty accurate swyping, but really missed not having arrow keys for making small corrections. Now that SwiftKey has the swyping function, I can have the better predictions, swyping and ARROW KEYS! Maybe there was another way to get arrow keys on my JB keyboard, but I couldn't find any simple way of doing this. For me, this was the big difference.
  • I find it slower than typing

    I find I spend so much time trying to remember how to slide across the keyboard between point to point that I lose track if what I am typing.

    I know that this would obviously get better with practice, but in the end I don't see the point? At least with a normal on screen keyboard you can quickly use two thumbs if needed. You can only use one finger with this and as I said - it's just another input method to get used to.
    • keep using it, you'll probably like it

      I didn't get it the first few times either but stay with it. Its not even necessarily faster, it just feels better. Use with 1 thumb is the way I normally use it. The reason its better is you don't have to hit the letters exactly - it usually figures out based on approximiate path. Thumbs on a phone never felt that good to me. Quickly plan out your path beforehand and do it. Long words can slow you down but get in the habit of looking at suggestions. On my nexus 7 I usually prefer thumb typing in portrait mode because you have to swipe such long distances.
  • Wipe da Swype?

    why would you not mention this technology?