How the Smartest Android Keyboard Got Even Smarter

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I’ve long recommended SwiftKey as a third-party keyboard for Android smartphones, and many others agree. According to the Android Market, the paid version has enjoyed between 100,000 and 500,000 installs, while the free version has seen between a half-million and a million downloads.

The keyboard shows intelligence by predicting the next word before tapping a single letter. But the new SwiftKey X, a private beta version now open to the public, is even smarter. The demos in this video show the improved personalization that’s made possible through the cloud.

The original version is customizable through scanning a user’s SMS messages. In that way, the software can learn how you communicate, then leverage that information for improved word prediction. The new SwiftKey X expands upon that concept by learning from your Gmail, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Yes, you’re giving access that data, but in turn, you receive a more personalized keyboard experience, which can save time. SwiftKey’s privacy policy may help the squeamish in terms of data use:

In relation to our Apps such as SwiftKey, learned language data generated and stored on your computing devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, is never accessed by, or transmitted to us unless you wish to use additional features or services which would require the use of such data. Where we offer any additional services or facilities that do require use of data which might include personal information, such as server-based personalized services, then we will always seek your consent to the use of such data before providing such services or facilities.

By allowing this learning process, word prediction can be even faster than auto-correction, considering you might not have to type any letters in the next word. Using TouchType’s Fluency Prediction Engine, the company says one-third of next words are predicted correctly without any characters typed, and 80 percent of words can be predicted with just two characters.

 

Another improvement is how SwiftKey X virtually expands the size of the keys most likely to be tapped next. This is akin to how Apple designed the iOS keyboard: the sensor area around the keys most likely to be tapped next is actually expanded. SwiftKey X also supports multiple typing profiles: one for precise typists and one for the fast and furious that rely heavily on auto-correction or prediction. Essentially, these features mean that even the most cramped software keyboard can work for more people because of the intelligence built in to the product.

I’ve installed SwiftKey X on my Nexus One, and there’s no going back to the stock keyboard for me. I’m already used to the word prediction, thanks to the original SwiftKey, but I’m already seeing personalized improvements. Thanks to the cloud and access to my other communication methods, SwiftKey X is pretty good at guessing family names and even the devices I use. I’m sold on it for Android phones and since it’s a no-cost beta, I highly recommend you look at this intelligent phone keyboard.

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