Big updates to Android keyboard apps SwiftKey and Swype
The twin titans of the Android input app world both announced big upgrades today. SwiftKey 4.3 has exited beta, consolidating what were previously two separate apps into a single application. Simultaneously, Swype 1.6, a new version of the app studded with new features, has been released. The enhancements to both are considerable, renewing the battle over which app is the best system for entering text into your Android device.
If you're unfamiliar with SwiftKey or Swype, both are based on "swiping" to enter text instead of tapping on individual characters. This means you don't have to physically lift your finger up to go from one letter to the next. You just drag from character to character as fast as you can. This tends to make most users faster and more accurate when writing messages, and both systems include predictive logic that makes educated guesses about the words and phrases you're spelling out to improve speed further.
- One of SwiftKey 4.3's biggest selling points is that it can take a deep dive into your message history to better predict what you're typing. The app can be set to analyze your sent Google email, Facebook posts, and even sent tweets to determine commonly used words and phrases, so if you tend to write about Zbigniew Brzezinski a lot, SwiftKey will pick up on this immediately, saving you a lot of spelling angst.
- SwiftKey 4.3 also includes copious language options such as Canadian English, which includes additional logic that recognizes commonly used Canadian places and figureheads.
- Finally, one new SwiftKey feature is already being heralded as a godsend. Now you can undock the keyboard, move it elsewhere on the screen, and resize it to dimensions that are more comfortable for your fingers. This can be extremely helpful on larger devices like the LG G Pad 8.3 and Sony Xperia Tablet Z, both powered by Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processors. On these very large tablet screens, having a keyboard that requires swiping back and forth across its entire width can slow you down. The new release of SwiftKey means you can shrink the keyboard down to a more comfortable size no matter how big the screen is.
- Swype's updates are also worthwhile. Swype 1.6 also lets you resize your keyboard window, and even use a different keyboard depending on whether you're holding your phone in portrait or landscape mode. It also adds support for writing in two languages simultaneously, so if you switch between English and Spanish in the same message, Swype will suggest words in both tongues. Over 1,000 language combinations are supported.
- Swype, which is owned by dictation-software company Nuance, has also upgraded its voice recognition features, letting you speak in one language but type in another, for example.
SwiftKey 4.3 is available for $3.99 from Google Play and supports Android 2.2 and up. Swype 1.6 is also $3.99, with the same compatibility requirements.