Keyboard replacement developer TouchType has released a beta of its newest software, SwiftKey X, out to the public. Previously only available to the service's VIP subscribers, the keyboard replacement will be available for free for a limited time.


New Hotness

The newest version adds a lot of features, most of which are designed to help you get words onto the screen quickly. SwiftKey's game has always been one of text prediction: its ability to learn from your SMS and language modules made it perfect for those who find themselves relying on auto-correct a lot.

SwiftKey X goes one step further than just SMS; this time, the app is able to search your Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail for new words and commonly typed sentences. Being able to predict the next word you are likely to use gave the original SwiftKey a bit of a spookiness - things have only gotten worse from here.

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Besides learning from things you've previously typed, the beta enables the program to learn from what you're currently typing, fixing common errors and learning them for the future. This is definitely helpful for those of us who have large fingers, making it difficult to hit the same key consistently.

Listening to the users, TouchType added a commonly requested feature that lets you remove words from not just the custom dictionary, but the built-in one too. Excellent.

Here's the full changelog:

New features:

- Next generation Fluency inference engine
- Personalization from Facebook, Gmail, Twitter
- Machine learning based adaptive interaction modelling framework
- Advanced language detection
- Redesigned installer process
- Redesigned settings menu
- SwiftKey shortcut launcher on keyboard
- New typing styles framework
- New robust text handling framework
- Keyboard theme framework
- Improved response times
- Improved battery usage
- Navigation keys
- New line key always available (via long press on smiley button)
- Redesigned Language Module download service
- Enhanced typo and spelling correction
- Select primary prediction on punctuation
- Improved email address entry
- Accented characters now populated dynamically
- Remove any word from predictions, not just learned words
- New dark theme
- Numerous bug fixes and general improvements

Improving The Installation Process

Because SwiftKey requires you to configure a number of settings before it is ready to be used, the installation process has been presented in an easier-to-understand method than just a series of screens. I'm a big fan of this, as it was a little difficult to know what stage of the installation you were at in the past. It was even easier to get lost while trying to find your way back to what you'd started.

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Upon installation, SwiftKey X also asks you a simple question: are you an accurate typist or a sloppy one? Choosing either one of the options changes the configuration to suit people who rely on autocorrect or prefer to hunt-and-peck to be precise.

The new version thankfully offers a much-needed theming upgrade, giving users a dark theme that looks a little less robotic than the default white layout. I find that this theme blends in with Android a lot better (especially Gingerbread) and doesn't give off a "Hey, look at me! I'm different!" vibe as loudly.

The Bottom Line

I've only had a chance to play around with SwiftKey X for a couple hours (thank you, TouchType, for the pre-release) and I can say that it definitely feels like a different keyboard. The changes that have been made in the new version are substantial, and improve on the product as a whole.

While I believe that there isn't one "true" keyboard replacement for Android due to a multitude of different personal preferences, SwiftKey is definitely one of the top ones you should consider. The beta is free to take part in until SwiftKey X graduates to becoming the next official version of SwiftKey; it will be free to past customers, but beta testers will be locked out until they pay.

Happy typing!

Matt Demers
Matt Demers is a Toronto writer that deals primarily in the area of Android, comics and other nerdy pursuits. You can find his work on Twitter and sites across the Internet.

  • Mike

    Every time i get to the Personalize step it kicks me back out to the setup screen before I can type in any info. then it says, "You must complete this step before you can use Swiftkey X". Then let me log in to Gmail and I will complete the step! When I try Facebook it just goes to a blank white screen and doesn't do anything.

    I'm using a G2 with Cyanogen 7.0.2

    • Gauntlet

      I had this problem on my X10i, if you have a swiftkey folder on your sd card try deleting it and installing again. That worked for me.

  • ocdtrekkie

    The one thing that still bugs me is losing my learned language files between betas and devices (tablet and phone). I'd love it if there was a way to sync them.

  • ixfnx

    Are there any security precautions for installing this? I'm under the impression that this app will be sending every keystroke to a third party location, including usernames, passwords, serials, cc#'s, etc... Isn't this something of a security threat?

    • Chris

      Not to mention that he said it can search Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail for things. It sounds nice, but I don't want anything searching through all my emails.

  • malik187

    I was in the middle of the install and had swiftkey set as my default keyboard. My phone went to sleep, and now I have to put in my pin but the keyboard is not set up. Im locked out. any help?

  • Slipgate

    what is the difference beteween this and the normal swiftkey? The added twitter/facebook/gmail stuff? Cuz I don't have twitter or facebook and I don't need it to pour through my emails to find words. I don't talk the same in email as I do text.

  • Slipgate

    ...................anyone? (stupid wordpress is making me make a longer comment)

  • Slipgate

    awesome, thanks! -_-

  • http://androidpolice.com jselt

    i had to switch to android keyboard to imput updates to get thru the installation.

    • Chris

      Sounds like a Swiftkey fail to me.