I'm a huge fan of text expanders. Seriously, they are necessary to me. As a regular user of both Mac and Windows, I have sought out solutions on both platforms and rely on them daily. That's why I've always felt horrified that there weren't any great options on Android. After all, mobile devices are already input-impaired, it only makes sense that we need quality shortcuts. As it turns out, such a shortcut has been under our noses for quite some time, tucked away where few would look and only available with the stock Android 4.1 (or higher) keyboard.
Swype is far from an unfamiliar face in the mobile world. It has served some of the finest Android phones as an included keyboard, permitting one-handed writers to swipe out words rather than peck away with their thumbs. During this time, it was unavailable as a separate download, and using it was somewhat of an exclusive experience. It has since entered the Play Store, and it's now making the jump up to version 1.5.6 less than a month later.
If you're in the market for a new Android virtual keyboard, you could do a lot worse than SwiftKey, especially since it's just been updated to version 4.1. In the company's ceaseless drive to improve every nook and cranny of the app they've added three shiny new themes: Regal (purple), Pitch (black) and Dusk (navy blue). In addition, both the smartphone and tablet version of the swiping, predicting, multi-language keyboard are on sale for half off.
Time for a little history lesson. Way back in the summer of 2010, when smartphone screen sizes were still reasonable and people were still complaining about how hard it was to type on them, a little company called Swype Inc. thought it had the problem of touchscreen input licked. Android users went crazy trying to get into the beta for their gesture-based software keyboard, and tech blogs threw around words like "innovation" and "miracle" like rice at a wedding.
When we first laid eyes on Minuum back in mid-March, it was love at first sight (for me, anyway). A touchscreen keyboard that only takes up one row sounds like an absolute godsend. Personally, I instantly threw money at the screen so I could get early access to this little gem – that was the first day of the company's Indiegogo campaign. During that day, it blasted past its original $10,000 goal, proving that my desire for this fantastic-looking piece of software to come to fruition was shared by many.
When it comes to aftermarket keyboards, we're big fans of SwiftKey. The prediction engine is second to none, Flow's gesture typing is full-on awesome, and you can customize it to look however you want. Honestly, what more could you want from a keyboard? It's things like this that have made SK a hit with users around the world.
Given that sort of global success, the folks at Swiftkey compiled a blog post with some fun facts about how users in different regions use the keyboard.
We generally have a rule at Android Police HQ: we don't post about Kickstarter/Indiegogo projects at least until they've been funded. Too often things turn into vaporware and people's money ends up wrapped up in things like Diaspora that never take off. Today, we're making a rare exception to talk about Minuum, because this video starts off as "Oh, that's kinda cool," and quickly shifts to "Holy crap, that's amazeballs!"
As you can see in the beginning of the video, the concept is fairly simple.
It's not Jelly Bean yet. Well, I mean it is. It's the older Jelly Bean. Not the newer Jelly Bean. I'm sure this isn't confusing. However, Verizon is getting ready to roll out an update to the Galaxy S III that will bump the phone from 4.1.1 to 4.1.2. Unfortunately this isn't the 4.2 upgrade most users were likely hoping for. Among the listed improvements are a better keyboard and the ability to take pictures while on a call.