Swiftkey Beta keyboard

One of the great things about Android is the fact that you can change deeply ingrained parts of the operating system to suit your needs, and use applications like SwiftKey beta keyboard.  I've been using the closed alpha of this app for quite a while, and was excited when the guys from TouchType reached out to let us know the app was now available for all through the Market.  They also included a preview version for testing, so I was able to put the latest version through the paces of a busy day, and am thoroughly pleased.  Follow the break to learn a bit more, see some action shots, and read the press release.

swiftkey keyboard -- sms

There's lots of software keyboard replacements out there, so what makes Swiftkey special?  We touched on it a little in our original keyboard roundup (I heard there's an update to that in the works -- shhh!) and talked about the way Swiftkey can predict what you mean based on what you've already typed.  It's eerie how accurate it is sometimes, both with simple phrases and words and more complicated and off-the-wall verbiage.  To top it all off, it's localized in 7 different languages and learns as you type using what they call the Fluency Prediction Engine.  Be skeptical, I was as well.  But it really does improve with usage. 

Swiftkey language download 1  choose your language

When you first run Swiftkey you'll have to download and install a language module so it knows just how to correct your words and sentences.  It's simple, you just select from one of the supported Latin languages and charactersets, and the app installs it for you.

swiftkey settings  Swiftkey audio feedback volume  Swiftkey haptic feedback duration

Swiftkey has the standard settings included on most keyboard apps, as well as settings to adjust the volume of the audio feedback (thanks developers!) and the length of the vibration for haptic feedback.  Do yourself a favor and take the time to tinker with these -- you can make your virtual keyboard experience much more enjoyable with them set to your liking.

Then, you just type.  When you notice the word you want is chosen in the middle in bold, a press on the spacebar will insert it and you can begin typing the next word.  Just keep an eye on the selection box, because often the correct word is chosen before you even type a letter.  Before you know it, you're saving all sorts of keystrokes.  After a day of heavy mail and texting, I've got the latest version pretty well trained to the way I type.

Swiftkey usage stats

Swiftkey is currently available on the Android Market as a beta release.  Download it yourself and give it a try!

swiftkey QR code

Market link

(too new for AppBrain!)

Press release follows:


NEWS RELEASE
WED 14TH JULY 2010
Welcome to the typing revolution

  • ‐ A breakthrough in text prediction for smartphones
  • ‐ SwiftKey™ enables effortless touchscreen typing
  • ‐ Learns as you type to give even better predictions

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM — A British start‐up company today launches a pioneering new technology that is set to change the way people write on their touchscreen phones – by doing most of the work for them.

London‐based TouchType is giving away the beta of its SwiftKey™ software, which utilises patentpending language technology to predict whole words as a user types. The beta, currently available on smartphones running the Google Android™ platform, can increase
writing speeds by up to 50% with its powerful prediction engine. It was pioneered by two young entrepreneurs, Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock, who met while studying at the University of Cambridge. “We are really pleased to be able to launch SwiftKey™ Beta
after over two years of hard work,” said Reynolds, TouchType’s Chief Executive Officer.

“The incredible technology underpinning our application completely changes the way mobile users interact with their smartphones.”

Unlike old prediction technology that simply relies on word lists, SwiftKey™ uses complex language models that understand how words are combined within sentences.

“We’ve analysed over 50 billion words in nine major languages to build the models that drive our prediction engine,” said Medlock, TouchType’s Chief Technical Officer. “SwiftKey™ is the first text entry app on the market to harness the incredible power of statistical language processing. It takes predictive text to a whole new level, resulting in an unparalleled user experience.”

TouchType alpha tested SwiftKey™ with a group of over 5,000 alpha testers for six months. The feedback the company received was overwhelmingly positive. “I just typed the majority of a sentence without typing anything. It was like it was reading my mind,” one tester said.

SwiftKey™ has also received glowing reviews. “This is brilliant, absolutely brilliant,” said Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Editor for the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper. “This is the
best predictive text I have ever come across.”

Jerry Hildenbrand, reviewer at the influential Android Central blog, said: “SwiftKey™ is like an English professor is alive and working inside your phone. It’s still in beta, but it’s already an amazing little application.”

Further quotes about SwiftKey:
“The app is actually fairly epic. The damn thing reads my mind.” – John Furneaux, Huddle.net

“Great idea, the keys on some of these phones are incredibly tiny, and if you’re not used to your touchscreen keyboard… something like this to help you speed up writing will surely help.” – Stuart Miles, Pocket‐Lint.com

“It’s incredibly fast and the text prediction is simply brilliant… I used to be a huge Swype junkie, but I truly find this faster.” – Intx, XDA Developers Blog

“Very good! It’s going to save me a lot of time, so I’m sold.” – Hermione Way, Techfluff.tv

“Thanks for making the best mobile keyboard out there! It's absolutely astonishing how well the prediction works. It just makes me want to keep on typing!” – Alpha tester


 
There are 51 comments

zambalis says:

First

BoNg420 says:

Why the hell do you people got to post "First"

Post an actual comment at least about the story or relevant. Quit spamming. I swear ever other topic I look at on here some idiotic moron has to post "First" We don't care if you were the first person to post on this. There's no prize for being the first to post. Sorry its just annoying, I moderate another forum and always delete these type of posts. Grow the F up and everyone else tag his post as spam.

myriad46 says:

Second

There's some variety for you. Lighten up. Some of us have nothing better to do.

You just proved his point. So about the article.... This keyboard looks great. It reminds me of HTC's keyboard but with more features and more customizable. Great job Devs. Keep up the good work.

VDub2174 says:

What does your post have to do with the story?

Basecall#AC says:

Twentieth.. Like me i'm a perfect example

Issemann says:

ROFLMAO!!! Relax bro... You're going to pop a blood vessel.

i was within the first 50 to download of the marktet! woot lol. this should be fun!

stalker says:

good.. new keyboard is coming.. good good.

transfixt says:

Unable to find it using CyanogenMod 6.0.0-RC1 for droid. Anyone else having the same issues?

normio2 says:

Same problem here.

x1208x says:

Auto Correct/Text prediction really sucks and no voice to text button.

JCool525 says:

Just downloaded and installed on my evo. I'm going try it out and see if I like it or not.

image2nv says:

If they combined this with Swype I think that would be interesting.

L3k0 says:

Isn't swype so awesome? I can't use anything else....only change for gmote that doesn't work that well with swype... Backspace, hello developers...lol who am I kidding they don't care...

ogreen32 says:

I like this keyboard better than the HTC keyboard so far. I'm using it on my rooted nexus running cm6. This keyboard will be part of ny paid app pledge if it becomes a paid app. It's awesome.

etnpnys says:

Does it have multitouch? Does it let you just hold a key down to access the rarely used numbers or special characters?

icebike says:

Its free. Download it and try it out.

Blueman101 says:

it needs a speech to text button.

finanandroid says:

This is pretty sweet, actually in am writing with it, very good! The only concern is the fact that when you email somebody you most be open the whole contact list and choose from there no automatically as htc auto contact

icebike says:

What does your phone type when you just hold down the space bar?

Mine says this. I am a beautiful person. I am a beautiful person. I am a beautiful person. I am a beautiful person. I am a beautiful person. I am a beautiful person.

Very weird.

No mix button.

VDub2174 says:

It's an inspirational application.....lol

I just installed it on my Dinc and it isn't better than stock. it makes me have to type slower so I quickly uninstalled it

Rudementry says:

This is just like the PS3 word prediction software. Nothing special.

icebike says:

If that's what you think, you haven't given it a real trial.

FicTioN says:

I don't know if I can tear myself away from swype long enough to give this keyboard a shot although it does sound very intriguing.

Asterisk says:

Needs russian. How is it better than Smart Keyboard Pro, apart from prediction shizz anyhow?

aplittle says:

Thank you for using "verbiage". Everyone at work runs around talking about verbage this and verbage that, and it drives me crazy. So again, thank you. and this looks like a nice replacement keyboard, I think I will give it a try.

Aaron

Chondog says:

I'd love to see how this could be faster than Swype. As one posted above, combine Swype with this and it would be untoppable.

Installed at work tonight. With some practice it could possibly be as fast as swype as it learns what comes in sentences. Pretty damn cool actually. I really love swype so will play around with this and see which I like better. It is very fast once you get used to it. EVO

sigmapinick says:

Tried it out, uninstalled it... It was nice, but I am used to the normal droid keyboard... If I am going to make a switch it needs to be for something that will drastically improve my typing speed and accuracy... Hoping Swype is the answer... Its free. give it a try but it really didn't blow me away. Plus I don't like the idea of a third party being able to record my keystrokes.

mkashen says:

SwiftKey is a amazing I highly recommend it.

santinelli says:

Swiftkey is Incredible. Love it better than any of the keyboards (Including Swype) BUT.... Ya JUST CAN'T INSTALL IT AND EXPECT A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE.

Like anything, it takes time... Time for YOU to be comfortable with it, time for IT to learn your typing....

So, install it, and give it a week... :)

I went through the alpha, and at first completely hated it, but then I got used to it, and am completely in love with it.

The changes they have made from Alpha to Beta are significant, and am happy to report it is my main keyboard now. :)

Acroanidd says:

I paid for and loved better keyboard. I got into the beta of Swype a while ago, switched to that, loved it and thought i would never leave but after a few hours of texting and typing, i must admit this keyboard is simply amazing. very highly recommended!

Big_Ern_20 says:

this doesn't show up in the market on my HTC hero. anyone else with a hero figure out how to download this?

VDub2174 says:

I couldn't find it either through searching but it worked when I scanned the barcode.

Couldn't find it either... tried to scan the bar code and searching the market using keyword search

dmoreno#AC says:

SwiftKey is outstanding!!! Definitely better than the stock HTC Keyboard. Not a huge fan of swype, therefore this my keyboard of preference.

crcr says:

No voice button option, no go for me ...

Smokeaire says:

I will keep the beta until it expires, it is my second favorite keyboard, Swype being number one.

icebike says:

You definitely have to play with this for a while. You can't just put it on the phone and type two text messages and give up.

It will be way faster than swipe, because the prediction is far more elaborate, some times predicting entire words and sequences of words before you even type a single character. When that happens, a single tap writes entire words. Swype can't come close to that for speed.

Being Beta, it still has some really irritating habits. If you get a word typed with a wrong letter, you can't always back up prior to the error and carry on, because when it does find the word in its dictionary it will append the entire word so you end up with a mess like "OccasioOccasionally" with your abortive attempt followed by the complete word from the dictionary. When this happens you have to erase the entire mess and start over. It doesn't always do this of course. Most of the time you can just continue entering subsequent letters of the misspelled word and it will figure it out.

This is a different concept than Swype. Its not about trying to "fix the keyboard", its trying to assist the typist, predicting entire word sequences, and if you get in the habit of stabbing the space bar as soon as your word shows you can get really fast.

Just don't even think about putting an extra space at the end of a sentence, or double spacing between word to SET THEM APART. You can't do it.

It's funny. I've tried all the different keyboards (swype, better keyboard, etc), and I tried each one for a few days.

But no matter what I keep going back to the stock Froyo keyboard.

I liked swype second best, but it drove me crazy that using punctuation or proper nouns of any kind seemed to be beyond its capabilities.

I'll give this a whirl and see if its any better

modalblunder says:

The skinny keys are a big turn off for my manly hands. I might have to stick to swype, but i'll keep this on as default for 2 more days just to give it a shot.

JeffDenver says:

Can anyone please explain to me WHY it is so damn hard to add arrow key or an "enter" key into these virtual keyboards?

I mean, I'd like to be able to buy a phone without a hardware keyboard, but I cant do precision movement with virtual keyboards (in 4 directions), and I can enter line breaks with them. I can do this with my Droid's hardware keyboard real easy though. Its incredibly annoying.

That being said, this is the best virtual keyboard I have used so far on Android and very nearly rivals Apple's.

scribe4food says:

Can someone tell me where I can get Swype at? I look on the Android Market place and cannot find it.

L3k0 says:

http://swypeinc.com/ you need to sign up for it and your phone should be able to accept non market applications...cause they will send you a link to download direct to your phone...good luck

scribe4food says:

Thanks. Much appreciated!

scribe4food says:

I wish the keys were bigger, but I definantly like this better than the stock keyboard on the EVO. I kept hitting the directional arrows below the space bar on the stock EVO keyboard, which created more headaches than not.

Andromedo says:

Is it just me, or is anyone else having trouble d/ling the English-US language pack?

It is giving a connection error immediately. I'd say maybe their servers are over loaded but it errors out so fast it is like it isn't even trying. Even tried disabling WiFi for grins.

Derk#AC says:

Already available on AppBrain when I tried 5 min ago!

McPlot says:

It does not work in all apps. No voice options. I uninstalled it. I hope it gets better after the Beta is over.