The virtual keyboard on Android smartphones was once so bad that apps emerged to fix it - unintentionally encouraging new technology innovations. Swiftkey, a drop-in replacement keyboard, has evolved beyond autocorrecting typos into actually predicting what you will write next and understanding the context.
SwiftKey 4, which was made available today, uses natural language processing to understand the context of words. Those insights are similar to how Google's Now personal assistant makes its recommendations, SwiftKey chief marketing officer Joe Braidwood explained. He also hinted at "exciting things" to come and said that major R&D efforts were underway at the company.
"We can create things that go beyond input," Braidwood said. This technology has arrived during a "perfect storm" in the industry where developers like Swiftkey have access to powerful devices with smart sensors, he added. Version 4 still remains focused on building a better virtual keyboard.
SwiftKey's contextual technology combines with "flow," gesturing typing that's similar to the Android app Swype (it too has language prediction based on typing history), to make inputting text in SwiftKey 4 faster.
Words complete before you type them, and the next word could already be predicted and displayed on your screen before you even write it. SwiftKey understands the input, and is not limited to word prediction, Braidwood said.
SwiftKey can now handle over 60 languages with the same auto-correction and next word prediction capabilities, the company says. Other version 4 changes include a refreshed interface for making corrections and machine learning that will adapt to your typing style.
Here's what all of that input prediction and gesturing looks like: