Back in October, we blogged about a new Android keyboard called SwiftKey Flow. Android already has several dozen keyboards, so a new keyboard is hardly newsworthy. However, SwiftKey Flow had us salivating, simply because of the folks behind it. SwiftKey’s other keyboard – SwiftKey X, has the best prediction engine in the market. Once it gets used to your typing style, it often manages to effortlessly predict word after word. In spite this, SwiftKey never managed to cement its position as the default keyboard on my phone. The sole reason for that is its lack of support for gesture typing. Gesture typing, pioneered by Swype, is the best way to type on touchscreen mobile devices. It’s not only a lot faster, but it also takes a lot less effort, and requires only one hand.
SwiftKey Flow promises the best of both worlds. It boasts of SwiftKey’s renowned prediction engine, and supports gesture typing. After teasing us for months, SwiftKey announced the open beta of Flow a short while back. Like the original SwiftKey, the new Flow keyboard also can scan your messages, Facebook and Twitter posts, and Gmail conversations to learn your typing pattern and build up its dictionary. Flow also keeps on learning as you type. So, the longer you use, the better it gets. The Flow is meant for both tap-typing and gesture-typing. While gesture-typing is identical to Swype, it doesn’t seem to support all the bells and whistles of Swype. However, Flow does have a couple of unique tricks up its sleeve. It features instant predictions, which keep on changing as you keep swiping. And it supports continuous typing, which SwiftKey calls “Flow through Space”. You can type entire sentences without lifting your finger, by simply gliding over the space key to begin a new word.
It’s hard to review SwiftKey after using it for less than six hours. However, one thing that’s amply clear is that SwiftKey still has a long way to go because it can match Swype’s accuracy. Gesture typing often leads to wrong guesses, and since the prediction engine tries to predict the next word, going back and correcting mistakes is annoying. I also missed Swype’s convenient single tap replace while using SwiftKey. SwiftKey Flow’s biggest challenge is that it is trying to tailor itself for both tap typing and gesture typing. Right now, its split personality is holding it back.