17
Oct
swiftkey

The minds behind SwiftKey are machines. They're constantly striving to make an already-great keyboard even better, and adding new innovative features. Today, SwiftKey hits version 4.3 in the form of a public beta, and it's a zinger – it's packed full of new, useful stuff.

The most notable difference with this new build is the marriage of the phone and tablet versions of the app. Finally – one apk to rule them all. In SwiftKey's world, anyway. As a result of this marriage, the team has dubbed this build "Layouts for Living" – a name which may not make a lot of sense at first. Allow me to explain.

Screenshot_2013-10-16-14-38-12 Screenshot_2013-10-16-14-39-52 Screenshot_2013-10-16-14-41-15 Screenshot_2013-10-16-14-41-28

Since this basically combines the two former versions of SwiftKey into one, it also brings both sets of layouts to all screen sizes. It now offers quick access to various keyboard sizes, layouts, and locations. With the new "undock" feature, you can drag SwiftKey around the screen wherever you like. It's pretty badass.   

There are also three different keyboard modes, all of which can be accessed in the same quick-setting panel as the sizes and undock button:

  • Compact: On many larger phones it can be difficult to enter text and hold the phone with just one hand. This new feature minimizes the width of the keyboard and allows for easier typing with one-hand or gesture typing using SwiftKey Flow. It also frees up more of the screen estate on tablets.
  • Full: Users with large screens can now opt for a full-width keyboard with left-right cursor control keys and a backspace key above the “Enter” key. By placing the keys closer together, this new layout mimics the experience of two-handed typing on a physical keyboard.
  • Thumb: For people typing on tablets in landscape and with wide phones in portrait the keyboard can be split into two sections, enabling fast, comfortable typing with both thumbs.

Screenshot_2013-10-16-14-37-49 Screenshot_2013-10-16-14-39-35 Screenshot_2013-10-16-14-39-27

In addition to all this, there are a few other, more subtle, features tucked away in SK's settings – like the option to enable arrow keys (which for some crazy reason is called "PC Layout" on tablets).

As always, you can grab the latest version of the SwiftKey beta here. It's a good one.

Screenshot_2013-10-16-14-24-49 Screenshot_2013-10-16-14-43-12

San Francisco, CA, October 17, 2013 — SwiftKey, the leading Android keyboard app, today announced public beta access to its latest version, dubbed ‘Layouts for Living’. The SwiftKey 4.3 update provides users with new keyboard layouts that can be resized and moved anywhere on a device, empowering people to type however they want to, regardless of screen size.

Through extensive user experience (UX) testing and feedback, SwiftKey recognized that an increasing lack of distinction between the phone and tablet form factor means users are demanding more flexibility when they type. For example, commuters in cramped trains may want to type one-handed with their left thumb, while a professional writing a document on a tablet may want to type with both thumbs. SwiftKey’s latest update aims to adapt to everyday situations such as these as well as any number of others – it’s up to each user. With Layouts for Living, SwiftKey liberates users with a huge variety of layouts.

“Allowing people to manipulate the location, size and layout of the keyboard not only makes it easier to type – it gives our users a more personalized way to interact with their technology and each other,” said co-founder and CTO Ben Medlock.

“We are committed to creating world-class user experiences that marry our powerful language technology with interfaces that learn and adapt to each user’s needs.”

In addition to being able to size and place the keyboard anywhere on the device, version 4.3 of SwiftKey also includes three preset keyboard modes:

Compact: On many larger phones it can be difficult to enter text and hold the phone with just one hand. This new feature minimizes the width of the keyboard and allows for easier typing with one hand or gesture typing using SwiftKey Flow. It also frees up more of the screen estate on tablets.

Full: Users with large screens can now opt for a full-width keyboard with left-right cursor control keys and a backspace key above the “Enter” key. By placing the keys closer together, this new layout mimics the experience of two-handed typing on a physical keyboard.

Thumb: For people typing on tablets in landscape and with wide phones in portrait the keyboard can be split into two sections, enabling fast, comfortable typing with both thumbs.

Consistent Experience

As devices of varying sizes continue to enter the market and the line between tablets and phones blur, a consistent SwiftKey experience is an ongoing priority for our fans. Responding to your feedback, SwiftKey has merged the phone and tablet apps to give a seamless experience across all device sizes.

With SwiftKey Layouts for Living, current and future customers can use one unified SwiftKey app across all Android devices. Leveraging SwiftKey Cloud, which was introduced in SwiftKey 4.2, the app also creates a cloud-based hub for each user’s personal language profile to be shared with any phone or device. SwiftKey Layouts for Living offers a beautiful user experience for all users, across all of their devices no matter the screen size.

The SwiftKey Layouts for Living beta is available to the public now and can be downloaded athttp://beta.swiftkey.net.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • http://www.xboxmp.com/ Dustin DeFoe

    Any info on how the pricing works? I already have the tablet version but would like it on my phone as well. I was considering buying it, but if it is going to be available for free via my existing license then I will just hold off. I love swiftkey...by far my favorite keyboard.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      No word on how the transition in the Play Store will work. You can try the beta now for free.

    • Nick V

      I have the beta on both my tablets and my phone. Works great so far, and the FLow feature seems a little smoother to me.

  • Alberto Blasi

    are the themes always the same horrible ones?

    • http://www.baronsofbullshit.com/ seriosbrad

      yes, despite users requesting otherwise every new version. myself included.

    • Sqube

      Probably. I use the black and white one because it's, you know... the least bad of the lot, IMO.

    • woj_tek

      what's wrong with them? they are plain and nice - I actually prefer them to google stock one.

      • Swiftkey Get New Skins, Faggot

        You have shitty fucking eyes if you think these skins look good. Never design anything, ever. Thanks.

        • andy_o

          Better to have shity eyes than have whatever shitty thing you obviously have.

          • le_lutin

            a shitty lack of perspective maybe?

        • sixtyfour

          I can't tell if I'm commenting on an AP article or if I'm talking to a 12 year old on my Xbox! Good times.

        • Mike Horton

          You must be fun to be around at parties.

        • Brad

          Haha, I got a genuine laugh from this comment.

      • Alberto Blasi

        Even if they were better than the stock aosp (which is far from being true, imho) they still don't match the rest of the interface. They just feel out of place.

        • Guest

          If done right, those themes that Swiftkey have can be paired with a proper theme. It jut takes a little thinking and design sense. It really helps they aren't rainbow colored; they are neat and tidy, pretty compact and sweet. Not too bad and certainly doesn't deserved to be called horrible.

        • woj_tek

          DGNDE? for me they fit better in holo ui then stock, but that just my opinion...

    • http://j.mp/scottbeamer Scott Beamer

      I like some of the themes. My fave though is "Cobalt" (which is the default on a fresh install).

  • Steve Freeman

    Wait...what? I paid for both...

    • Lasse

      Me too :(

      • Marc Laferriere

        Me 3. I'm kinda pissed about that

    • markymark

      Not sure if you guys are serious. You paid what? 5 bucks? Probably less. Get your head out of your ass. Writing good software takes time and effort. How about you don't eat takeaway this week instead of depriving developers who actually deserve the money.

      • Chris Hutchinson

        Yeah I bought both but the used the tablet one for a couple of years now so I think i got my moneys worth.

      • Steve Freeman

        How about being less of a prick? Paying twice for basically the same software is frustrating. The fact that they finally are merging them proves they realize it should have been a single application all along. There may have been some technical hurdles preventing it previously, but if they thought the way you do they wouldn't be consolidating it into a single application now.

      • Nick V

        I have both, paid for both, and happy that I did. anyone who complains should run to an iOS device, where there is no choice. The developers of this app are great, and they produce great software. Stop crying and be appreciative that is was 5 bucks and forever updates.

    • Krisztián Kelemen

      i got both in a 50% sale... now we are even :D

      • RitishOemraw

        I got my phone keyboard when it was Amazon's free app of the day. When this launches I will own both for free :D

        • anzensepp1987

          SK doesn't have to launch the new version on Amazon.

          • sweenish

            But they have been keeping it up to date on Amazon.

    • faceless128

      so did i. this is awesome!

  • Mehmet Fatih

    The undock mode looks badass!

  • nawa

    Now I just want them to make a nice-looking theme (just copy Google Keyboard, please!), so I could buy it. Hate current themes.

    • xHabeasCorpusx

      Yeah, I have to theme the APK every-time they update. Holo looks ok but the rest are so damn hideous.

      • Vitaly

        Could you share your theme?

      • http://j.mp/scottbeamer Scott Beamer

        That's funny, I like (some of) the themes. My favorite though, is the default (Cobalt).

    • sweenish

      I'd prefer something much more like fleksy for appearances. It's super pretty.

  • johnforamerica

    Can't wait until it's out of beta and I don't need to have two swiftkeys on my phone! (the old & beta are separate apps, it doesn't replace the current version)

    • inzandity

      I wish they would open up the beta channel through the Play store and do it the right way to avoid having the multiple versions

      • Nick V

        because going to their website and downloading it is so hard? I thought the same thing too, but then I headed over, downloaded it, and with a total of 5 minutes, I had it all installed on three devices.

  • Eric Lammertsma

    Can I finally disable prediction from the keyboard so I can enter email addresses, urls, etc whenever I want? That always seemed to me like such an obvious yet painfully absent feature. It's always even easier to switch keyboards back to the default instead of wrestling with SwiftKey, and at some point I just quit switching back.

    • Alex

      I know what you're saying and had a similar complaint. If you change long-press duration to something like 200ms(or lower) it makes entering numbers waaay faster! Go Swiftkey settings >> Advanced to find the setting.

      • Eric Lammertsma

        That actually doesn't solve the problem of entering an e-mail address. If you try to type "j.smith@email.com is John's email", SwiftKey will automatically turn the j into a word and mess the whole thing up so it becomes something like "John. Smith@email. Come is John's email". There's absolutely no way to fix that that I can find. The fastest way I've managed to figure out is to switch to a different keyboard. The fastest way with SwiftKey is to just let it butcher what you're typing and then go back and backspace all the spaces and crap it added.

        If they would add a simple feature to disable prediction, suddenly everyone can type usernames, e-mail addresses, URL's and all the other incredibly common non-words we all use. As much as I like the better prediction SwiftKey has, the inability to turn it off is probably the primary reason that I went back to stock.

        • Alex

          Aww dang my comment was meant for the person below you who spoke about a dedicated number row.

          I do agree with you though. I use the "clean up the crap after typing" method. It does seem that SwiftKey changes into "email mode" in some fields. It has a handy @ button which can auto-input @gmail.com. I'm not sure how app/website devs can make use of that feature though...

        • Chase

          All you need to do is type it out and backspace after each period. Toward the end the other predictions will be removed and you can select and save the middle word, your email address, and then in the future you should only have to type a few letters for it to predict it

          • Eric Lammertsma

            That's what I call a hassle. It's much, much faster to select a different keyboard, and you're only solving the problem for one e-mail address, which is only marginally useful in a work environment. I'm not going to spend upward of 10 seconds typing every e-mail address, URL, and anything else that isn't a word.

            Also, I've tried that solution of course and I'm pretty sure (switched back to stock a few months ago) it simply doesn't work. SwiftKey has no way of properly predicting that you want to enter an entire e-mail address if you only gave it the letter j to work with before hitting period. It's going to turn that into words like "just" or "jump" since it would be much more annoying if it plopped e-mail addresses down every time you hit period. The fact is that SwiftKey simply can't handle non-words. The only "solutions" are variants of wrestling with the inability to turn off prediction. With a keyboard like Google's stock keyboard or Swype (which is also noticeably more responsive, btw - even on an HTC One) you can simply stop swiping and touch type anything you want, which makes it incredibly fast for these situations.

            SwiftKey has great prediction and when I only need to type out an e-mail with proper prose, it's blazingly fast. However, it loses that advantage if you have to type anything at all that isn't (and shouldn't) be in the dictionary. Regular typing is certainly faster with SwiftKey than with any other keyboard I've tried, but in practice, I find it to be the opposite. It's one of the slowest I know. Just try it. Type out some semi-technical e-mail with SwiftKey and do the same with Swype. You'll blast through the text bits but end up losing to the obnoxious prediction where you don't want it.

    • Ritchie

      Have you tried going to SwiftKey "Settings"->"Advanced"->"Spacebar completion mode" and selecting "always insert a space"?

  • david coffey

    They have 9 or 10 color themes available. If you can't find one to your liking, then you're a bunch of vaginas.

    • You’re a faggot.

      All of the themes look like something you'd find on a 1996 Geocities website. They're fucking terrible for such a top grossing app and there's no reason to continue to neglect what customers have been asking for for years.

      • david coffey

        Hi, 'You're a faggot'. If anything, the themes appear to be simple, if anything. Colors are smooth and vibrant, however, unlike a geocities website from the late 90s.

        Have a good day, you're a faggot.

    • Simon Belmont

      I usually go with the regular Cobalt one (bluish). This time of year (fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc), I switch to Pumpkin.

      Hoping they make one that matches the white/gray style of KitKat. Although, I may just stick with Cobalt because I love the blue color.

    • Nick V

      This made me laugh. :-)

  • RitishOemraw

    "like the option to enable arrow keys "

    That has been in there since like forever right? I have arrow keys on my phone's Swiftkey keyboard

    • anzensepp1987

      But not on SK Tablet.

      • RitishOemraw

        I see, I wonder why....so much extra space it would make sense if it was the other way around

  • Armus

    SwiftKey is nice but they keep ignoring a feature we've asked for four months, dedicated number row! I went to Kii keyboard because they had a number row and swype. It doesn't predict as well but at least it had the features I want. You'd think SwiftKey could add this simple feature.

    • dandmcd

      They've ignored virtually every feature request since the app first released. Chinese, RTL language support, number rows, emoji, more themes, etc.

    • Leonardo Farage Freitas

      Agreed. Number row is a must now a days with the higher resolution and bigger screens. After using S4's keyboard and all. Just installed the beta and I was hoping for the number row.. oh well.. hoping for next beta to add this feature :P

      But I do have to say that the addition of these new layouts were nice..

  • andy_o

    They should pick up the slack after Keymonk and bring effective two-thumb typing. Also,one othe big reasons Swype can be more accurate with multilingual typing even to the point of not having to look at keyboard is that it lets you select language.

  • cheapo

    I'M HAPPY I DIDN'T BUY THE TABLET VERSION!

  • Mystery Man

    Why no emoji ._.

  • Brad

    I actually have the tablet version installed on my phone currently... I wonder if it'll just resolve to regular swiftkey when it's ready for prime time. Merge the entries or whatever... The phone version is from Amazon App store and I don't want to rely on that anymore.

  • Matthew Fry

    And what of those of us who have both the tablet and phone versions?

    • faceless128

      we have two swiftkeys? i know i enjoyed them both.

  • Bronislav Shtrom

    STOLL

    • Alex

      I think you're accessing the question mark the slow way. If you just swipe right on the button quickly (don't hold it down first), you'll get the question mark instantly. Similarly, if you swipe left on the button quickly you'll get an exclamation mark.

      Unlike you, I use comma quite a lot, so want it kept on a quick access key.

      I'm also not sure what the point of the comma on both keys is though. I can't see any reason for it to be on the ",!?" key.

      • Bronislav Shtrom

        slow

        • Alex

          Sure, but I imagine that people wanting the ! key didn't like requiring a long press. People tend to use commas a lot and having to long press to get to it would stop me using the keyboard straight away. Commas are more common in writing than !/?.

          The swipe functionality is much faster than a long press and the current layout allows very quick access to "." and "," (the most commonly used punctuation marks) and still quick access to "?" and "!", as long as you do a quick swipe rather than long press and select.

          • Bronislav Shtrom

            Not true. The complaint thread for returning it to the way I described went to like 20 pages, and all the Devs said was basically "just deal" and that's it.

            It would at least be so much better if they took out the extra comma.

  • http://www.mobilesmith.com/ Janelle V.

    I can't say I'm crazy about the visual appeal of these themes...couldn't they come up with something better?

  • Simon Belmont

    So, I guess this makes the tablet version of SwiftKey obsolete? Ah, well, I've used it a lot on my tablets over the years, so I feel like I've gotten my money's worth.

    As for regular SwiftKey, it was one of the first FAOTD purchases I got from Amazon years. Easily the top one that I use, and my favorite keyboard.

  • LockesKidney

    yea cant say im ever going to undock my keyboard. another rather useless gimmick from SK

  • Mark

    The ugly themes made be defect to Swype.

  • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

    I've been a Swype diehard for years, but lately I've been using the Google Keyboard with "Gesture Typing" as it's just about as accurate, much lighter, and an all-around good enough replacement.

    I also tried Skiftkey's "Flow" a while back, but couldn't get used to it, and the autocorrection kind of sucked, iirc. HOWEVER, this new "Compact" feature alone is probably enough to get me to switch to it on my Note3, at least until Swype and/or Google play catchup with a similar one-handed mode.

    (edit: oh, and I still always have to have the non-swype "Hacker's Keyboard" installed, JUST for the TAB key completion when at the terminal :). Why can't the other keyboards add a TAB key?!)

  • Cuvis

    Finally, a decent keyboard with cursor keys. There goes the only reason I kept AnySoft around.

  • McAlister

    And when you talk your text, does it punctuate it correctly now ? Or it still write virgule(in French) when you tell virgule.

  • Guest

    So for those who bought Swiftkey for the Phone.... and didn't rebuy the same product as a tablet version.... which paid version is going to be "golden" and buyers of which version are going to be forced to upgrade?

  • Ian

    Dumb question, but how/where do you switch between compact / Full / & Thumb?? Can't find any settings for it anywhere....

  • http://j.mp/scottbeamer Scott Beamer

    This is my fave keyboard app, but there are two improvements I'd really like to see.

    1) Add emoji

    2) Improve "flow", Swype is much better at it.