Everything you need to know about Swiftkey 4 (video)

February 20, 2013
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Swiftkey 4 Swiftkey is already one of the most popular keyboards on Android. It boasts an above average text prediction and pretty good auto correct. It can also learn how you speak via your Facebook and Twitter posts as well as your texts and Gmail account. Of course, that was all back in Swiftkey 3. Swiftkey 4 has been released and with it comes new features and revamps of older ones. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about Swiftkey 4. We’ll start with the price. It’s been lowered from the usual $3.99 to $1.99! We’re off to a good start already. As always, if you’d rather watch than read, the video is at the bottom.

New Swiftkey Text Prediction

The text prediction in Swiftkey has always been its strongest feature. Even back when it was in early beta, people who used the keyboard were very impressed with it’s ability to complete sentences based on one or two words. According to the official Swiftkey 4 change log, the text prediction has undergone another revamp to make it even better than before.

During my testing, I was able to see a discernible difference on my Galaxy Note 2, which is my daily driver. On my Nexus 4, which I use to review applications, the text prediction really didn’t increase at all. So you may need to use it for a little bit or learn your texting patterns from the various places it can learn things before you see the improvement. So far, most sentences still require a little typing here and there, but it’s definitely gotten better.

Swiftkey Flow becomes official

This is the big feature that everyone is talking about. Late last year, the popular keyboard said it would start implementing gesture typing into its famous keyboard. Not long after, Swiftkey Flow beta was announced and released. People seemed to really enjoy it and it also happens to look cool. Now, it’s an official feature in Swiftkey 4.

Users of the beta probably won’t notice any difference from the beta aside from some possible minor fixes. It works as it should. You swipe some letters and it spits out a word. About the only issues we ran into during testing was sometimes contractions didn’t get added correctly. For instance, “its” and “it’s” along with similar words don’t always get the punctuation when they need it. This can be frustrating sometimes. One other issue, if you watch the video, was the keyboards inability to type the word “swipe”, instead defaulting to the competitor name “Swype” for some odd reason. Aside from these little annoyances, the keyboard worked well and is even comfortable and fun to use after a short time.

Flow through Space lets you type whole sentences at once

This one took a second to figure out and it’s still a pretty challenging. The concept of Flow through Space is to enable people to use Flow to swipe entire sentences in a single swipe. It’s probably one of the coolest features in a keyboard ever if you can get it to work right. It will mess up pretty often unless you take your time and do it flawlessly.

Here’s how it works. You swipe out a word. Instead of lifting your finger, you swipe down to the space bar, then swipe back up and continue by swiping your second word. Wash, rinse, and repeat until you have a full sentence. Once this feature gets polished up, it’s definitely going to be a texting dream come true, but for now it’s definitely something that’s more fun to play with than actually use productively. We also had a problem with lag when sentences got too long, which seems to occur at about 6-7 words and it was tested on both a Nexus 4 and a Galaxy Note 2.

Overall Impressions of Swiftkey 4

The core of Swiftkey gets an updated while some new features were added. Text prediction and typing words remains the best way to get your $2 out of Swiftkey 4. Until manual typing dies, that’s the way it should stay. So we were pretty happy with the improvements in things like themes, text prediction, and other core features that Swiftkey 4 updated.

The new features are about half and half. Swiftkey Flow in Swiftkey 4 works very well 95% of the time. Unfortunately, you’ll notice that 5% a lot more than you notice the 95% if you use a lot of contractions. This isn’t to say that Swiftkey Flow is bad, because it isn’t. In fact, it ranks right up there with the best in gesture typing. They all have their problems, after all. However, if people told you it was the end-all-be-all of gesture typing and it screwed up once, it might alter your perception of the keyboard. It’s great, but not perfect.

Flow through space is an awesome concept, but we would’ve liked to have seen better execution. It’s a feature that probably won’t get used much anyway so most probably won’t be using it. However, if Swiftkey 4 cleaned it up, made it better, and worked out the bugs, then this could be a seriously great tool for people who love to text. Maybe in future versions, but we wouldn’t recommend it today.

It’s definitely worth the $2 because it was worth the $4 back when it costed that much. It’s even worth the $2 for just the Swiftkey Flow with the improved text prediction. But if you want this just for the Flow through Space feature, you may want to hold off until it gets a little better.

If you want to check it out, you can find Swiftkey 4 in the Google Play Store here.

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