Right out of the iOS 8 gate, SwiftKey gives iOS users what they’ve been hoping for some time now, a slide to type predictive typing keyboard.
For Android users, custom keyboards have been a way of life for years, and many are well familiar with SwiftKey, and now SwiftKey is available for iOS devices thanks to iOS 8’s extensibility functionality.
Predictive Typing That Reads Your Mind
SwiftKey is a custom keyboard that provides predictive text suggestions as you type. What sets it apart from other similar predictive typing systems is its ability to personalize itself by learning your typing patterns and word choices. Over time, SwiftKey will learn how you talk and how you type, providing an incredible amount of accuracy in both predictions and autocorrection. Autocorrect even does a good job of adding in missing spaces in your typing, which is something I’m personally very prone to do when I type quickly.
To help manage this learning, you can link your app to SwiftKey Cloud, a central system that stores your patterns and allows you to sync them across different devices and platforms. By optionally linking your social accounts (Facebook, Google, or Twitter) or your Evernote account, SwiftKey can analyze your typing patterns from your own postings, and you can further improve the accuracy of the system.
One of the most exciting features of SwiftKey for iOS is the newfound slide-type ability so favored in the Android community. With SwiftKey Flow, simply draw out your word by sliding from letter to letter, and SwiftKey will use its predictive engine to give you extremely accurate results. Unfortunately, Flow is not available for iPads due to the huge memory requirements at this time.
Finally, SwiftKey supports different languages natively for both Flow and regular typing. What’s amazing is the support of two different languages at once using one keyboard. Simply add the second language you want to use, and start typing in either language. SwiftKey is intelligent enough to realize what language you are working in, and make its adjustments as needed.
SwiftKey Really Does Work Well
In my usage, I’ve found that I rarely end up typing words as I’ve become quite accustomed to sliding out text. The speed you can get via sliding is far superior, and thanks to SwiftKey’s predictive typing, far more accurate. Slide typing does work best with at least 4 letter words though, as three or fewer letter words sometimes causes problems. I imagine that this might improve as I use the app more and it learns my patterns.
I found that the app was also easily able to go between English and French without any trouble, even autocorrecting to add missing letter accent marks.
The biggest issues I’ve found with the app lie more in iOS 8’s somewhat fragile implantation of their extensibility APIs. Annoyingly often, the chosen keyboard that comes up would be the default iOS keyboard, requiring me to cycle to SwiftKey. Occasionally, SwiftKey and the iOS text field I was working in would lose “sync” causing the field to seem unresponsive even though SwiftKey was definitely trying to send text though. Hopefully the impending hot fix update to iOS 8 will clean up these issues.
Overall, I think SwiftKey is an amazing app at an amazing price of FREE! You can find SwiftKey on the iTunes App store with the launch of iOS 8!