Fans of the Fleksy keyboard started to reach out recently to see if we knew why the company had seemingly gone quiet. Support emails were going unanswered, the website was down, and the Twitter account had no updates. All very suspicious, but the most we could get out of the company's PR was that more information would be available later. Well, it's later, and the information is that Fleksy has been acquired... by Pinterest, for some reason.
Partnerships between keyboard makers and smartphone manufacturers aren't new — we all remember when Samsung started using Swype's technology on its keyboard a few years ago. So it isn't a surprise to see Fleksy striking a deal with an OEM of its own, as a way to extend its reach and installation base and as a benefit to the manufacturer who won't have to waste time and resources trying to develop a fast and reliable input method.
The deal in question is with Chinese manufacturer ZTE who will start bundling Fleksy with its smartphones. This includes Fleksy's fast keyboard and correction engine as well as its recently added rich content (GIFs, stickers, and emojis) and customization features (keyboard photos, colors, and effects).
Google's default keyboard has gotten really good, to the point that it's hard to actually charge for a keyboard app even if it has a few tricks up its sleeve. Just like SwiftKey last year, Fleksy has now gone free in the Play Store (and Amazon Appstore). Instead of paying an upfront price, there are themes and extensions that you can purchase if you so choose.
Fleksy 5.0 is now up on Google Play, and it comes with more than just its usual promise to speed up how quickly you type. The team has added extensions to the third-party keyboard, which allow it to do things ranging from adding a number row to inserting GIFs and launching apps. It's great functionality, and if you've yet to give Fleksy a chance or you've been taking an extended break, now would be a good time to give it another go.
This release readies Fleksy for Android Lollipop, bringing along a spiffy materially designed interface and new themes that, while not completely matching the look of Google Keyboard, comes closer than the previous version of the app.
Android Lollipop has started rolling out to people in the months since version 3.3 of Fleksy hit the Play Store, and the third-party keyboard's developers aren't just settling for giving the next release a material theme. The beta contains a new interface, plenty of new themes, and keyboard extensions. This last category is the one we're most excited to see.
The Material keyboard themes look less like Google's and more like simple recolored versions of Fleksy, and while they're not particularly exciting, at least they're not indicative of the effort the developers have taken to make the app look at home on Android 5.0.
The Fleksy gesture-based, third-party keyboard is currently on sale for 75% off, which brings the cost down to 99 cents. It will remain at this price until Friday while the company celebrates its latest round of good fortune.
Fleksy has secured $2 million in funding from Digital Garage, Eniac Ventures, Middleland Capital, Highland Capital Partners, Militello Capital, and other investors. This comes less than a year after the product exited beta back in December of 2013, and it follows last month's announcement of the keyboard's first OEM partnership (it will come installed on the Samsung Gear S).
Turning to gestures is not uncommon for third-party keyboard designers looking to create the next revolution in mobile text input. Rather than produce something funky, Fleksy takes a traditional layout and replaces many of the non-character keys (backspace, enter, space) with swipes.
Update: A Fleksy representative contacted us to say that the keyboard will be available as a free download to all Gear S owners, but will not be pre-installed. The title of this post has been changed to reflect this.
The Gear S is an interesting device, not so much for its hardware as for its approach: Samsung decided to equip the smartwatch with a stand-alone wireless connection so it can work just fine on its own, thank you. Of course, that also means that for at least some of the time you'll need to operate it like a smartphone strapped to your wrist...
Auto-correcting keyboard Fleksy made headlines last month with its interesting support for Samsung's Gear 2 smartwatches, but don't let it be said that they're neglecting the standard Android app. Today the company is updating its unconventional keyboard to version 3.0, notably adding the "Fleksy Store" to the premium version. This store will offer themes for users to buy via in-app purchase. At launch (sometime this morning, US time) there will be six themes available, and anyone who's purchased the keyboard gets a free bonus theme.
According to a press release, Fleksy is also adding support for a whopping 17 new languages (some of which are dialects).
Come on, you can't be serious. This has to be a joke, right? No? Fleksy is actually making a tiny software keyboard for the Gear 2? Okay then.
Fleksy claims that its Messenger keyboard is the first one to be featured on the Gear 2, and we're not going to argue. Touching on the inevitable difficulty of typing on a screen 1.6 inches across, the press release says that "Fleksy’s sleek design and unparalleled prediction engine makes it virtually effortless." If you say so. At present the virtual keyboard is only for replying to text messages... not that there's much else you would want to type out like that.
When it comes to invisible keyboards, Fleksy doesn't have a lot of competition. Or none, actually. This keyboard uses aggressive autocorrect and prediction to make words out of the nonsense you enter, and today it's hitting v2.0 with some new features.