App of the day: Swiftkey Beta X review (Android)

TouchType, the company behind Android keyboard app SwiftKey, has released a new version – SwiftKey X Beta - that promises to let you type even faster. But can the promise be true? We've been playing with the new app on our Samsung Galaxy S II for the last week in the office to find out.

 

SwiftKey X Beta

Format
Android (Gingerbread)
Price
Free
Where
Android Market

 

The new SwiftKey X Beta is available to download from the Android Market and is free to try. You don’t need to own the paid for app to be involved. All you need is an Android phone with Android 2.1 or higher on it.

Because the software is in beta it’s worth pointing out that it’s not Honeycomb ready and you may get the odd bug, however we’ve not experienced any major problems that have jeopardised our experience or use of our phone.

Download the app, install it and you’re pushed into a set up process that involves five stages.

Stage one is to enable the app, stage two to choose a language, stage three is where things get a bit more interesting. The new app lets you personalise the keyboard not by introducing new characters, but by letting you let the app scan your Twitter, Facebook and Gmail accounts.

The idea is that by doing so it can analyse how you write and therefore be better prepared to suggest the next word that you’re looking for.

In practice, we have to say that we are impressed, it works very well, although we’ve found that you get better results if you only type the first letter of the word you want next – it seems to work better that way.

We also found that at times it guessed the wrong word, something that meant every so often we sent out a message that was no what it was supposed to be, but this is easily stopped by actually reading what you’ve written before sending it, and not so blindly trusting the app from the get go. Don’t worry it not only seems better than previous versions, but also does learn what you write so will get better with you.

There is of course the worry that you’ve become that predictable, but ultimately it’s saving you time typing out messages. Next time you’re on the train look at someone typing on a T9 keypad and you’ll wonder how you ever did it.

Stage 4 is about typing style, whether you’re a rapid or precise – we can’t seem to see the difference to be honest, while stage 5 merely makes sure you set it up as the default keyboard on your phone.

Once you’ve done all that you’re off typing away, or more likely the case pressing words to complete your sentences.

The keyboard itself has been give an overhaul to bringing with it a more Honeycomb style to the proceedings and there’s haptic feedback to further enhancing your typing prowess.

Even if you don’t opt for the next word cues that appear above the keyboard the keyboard is nice to use and we like the added :-) emoticon button for cheeky messages.

Ultimately SwiftKey X Beta is free, easy to install, and more importantly easy to turn off if you don’t like it, however we suspect that you’ll want to keep it.

Yes it is eerie that the app knows what you are going to say next, but then if it means you’ve got more time to get on with other stuff that’s got to a be bonus.