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What is it?
As Google's Android is an open mobile platform, stock applications and services can be replaced by 3rd party equivalents. As this is no different for soft keyboards, there are many replacements that fight for the title ‘best alternative keyboard on Android’, each bringing something unique to the table. Some of these replacements are for instance Swype, Better Keyboard, ThickButtons and Slide Keyboard. A more recent addition to this pack is the SwiftKey Android replacement keyboard.
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What Makes SwiftKey Different from the Rest?
SwiftKey is different by doing something most keyboards do, but better: word prediction. As the developers call it, ‘Intelligent Prediction’ makes use of a custom built engine dubbed ‘Fluency’. With ‘fluency’, SwiftKey is able to remember and learn from your previous writing pattern and then adjust its prediction based on this. SwiftKey is even able to learn from previous SMS conversations, providing new users with a flying start.
Even without this feature the SwiftKey prediction is not only restricted to a word when typing, but is able to predict a word even before typing has started. Even though not always correct at first, it is a unique feature with a lot of potential.
While in a sentence, the predictions become increasingly more correct, as both the first few letters are analyzed in combination with the sentence structure. In combination with the ‘fluency’ engine, results are becoming increasingly more accurate, saving the user a lot of time. Even when keys are missed at first, SwiftKey's auto correction seems to understand what is meant and (tries to) suggest a word that makes more sense. The intelligent prediction claim is indeed valid as SwiftKey has by far the best prediction mechanism of any of the options in the Android Market.
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Besides the prediction feature, the SwiftKey alternative keyboard for Android has a lot more up its sleeve. Overall, it is a pleasant keyboard with a very rich set of features built in. The keys are well positioned and very precise when typing. The usual features, such as long pressing a key for alternative options, are present. As a result, the learning curve for Swiftkey is not very steep, contrary to, for instance: Swype, Slide Keyboard or ThickButtons.
The SwiftKey Android replacement keyboard supports a basic set of languages with more being added continuously. As most of the languages besides English are still in a Beta phase, not all of them might have the same predictive capacity at first.
Swiftkey also has a few minor but very pleasant additions, such as gesture support, and a variety of input options. Customization options are also available aplenty, with the usual Auto Complete, Auto Accept, Auto Caps and a variety of keyboard layouts being supported. On a minor note, SwiftKey does not support T9 Input. With SwiftKey’s superior text prediction mechanism present, this will probably not be missed too much.
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Swiftkey, the Best Replacement Keyboard on Android?
Although this is not an easy question to answer, for those that like the traditional way of inputting, so no swiping, sliding or voice input (which Swiftkey DOES support, however), Swiftkey is hands down the best keyboard available in the Android Market. With its superior intelligent prediction method in place, the keyboard actually gets better the more you use it. Furthermore, the keyboard itself is well designed and feature rich, with a pleasant layout and plenty of customization options. In the end, Swiftkey for Android is definitely worth the $3.99 purchase price.