Mobile

Swiftkey adds Swype-like gestures to its Android keyboard. Swell!

SwiftKey is one of many alternative keyboards available to Android phone and tablet users — and today it’s adding one of the features of its biggest competitors, Swype.

SwiftKey’s claim to fame has always been its ability to render intelligible language out of the mishmash of nonsense that your clumsy fingers make as you stab at the onscreen keyboard. With a linguistic analysis engine that draws upon textual data from across the Internet, as well as your own linguistic quirks as expressed in your Gmail, SMS, and social media updates, it’s surprisingly effective, having saved billions of keystrokes. (The company says the current total is 130 billion keystrokes saved. Probably about one billion of those are my own: I’m a terrible touchscreen typist.)

But you still have to lift your fingers from the screen, rather than just sliding them around from letter to letter, as you do with the also-popular app Swype (now owned by Nuance, a company that makes speech-recognition software). That wastes precious milliseconds!

With today’s update, SwiftKey Flow, you can use Swype-like gestures, dragging your finger from letter to letter without ever lifting it from the screen, and SwiftKey will do its textual analysis magic and come up with the correct word, even before you’ve finished swiping. Err, “flowing.”

SwiftKey, formerly known as TouchType Ltd., says its app is the top-selling for-pay Android app, with 15 million downloads of its $4 app. It’s available in 44 languages. The company, founded in 2008, is based in London and currently employs 70 people. It raised a $2.4 million Series A round in December, 2011.

SwiftKey Flow will be available for public beta testing in a few weeks, and you can sign up to test it on the company’s website.


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