The popular keyboard replacement app SwiftKey app continues to improve. After gaining the flexible Layouts for Living option in October, the latest update to the beta channel brings two long requested features – emoji support and a dedicated number row.
SwiftKey 4.5 beta introduces a popup panel with over 500 emoji organized in five categories – people, objects, nature, places and symbols – that you can use (and abuse) to spice up your text messages. The feature is only supported on Android 4.1 and above; due to system limitations, Jelly Bean devices will show black and white graphics, while on KitKat you get emoji in all their colored splendor. The app that you use also plays a role here; for instance, Hangouts will show its own custom symbols, though the symbols themselves are the same.
SwiftKey, known for the intelligence of its word prediction feature, baked a little of it in the emoji feature – typing “cat” or “Santa” will show the corresponding symbol in the suggestion bar, for easy insertion. Don’t worry, if you hate emoji, you can turn off the feature from the settings. Just like with words, the app also learns your usage patterns, so, for instance, if you often add a certain emoji symbol after the name of an individual, the app will begin to suggest it every time you write that specific name.
Another highly requested feature coming today is the dedicated row for numbers, which should let you type even faster, especially if you have to enter figures often for some reason. This extra keyboard row can be turned off from the settings if you wish so.
You can take the SwiftKey 4.5 beta app for a spin right now by downloading it here. If everything goes to plan, the new features should make it to the stable channel in a matter of weeks.