SwiftKey, the long standing champion of 3rd party alternative keyboards for smartphones and tablets, just raised the bar for customization, usability and performance for touch screen keyboards with release of Beta Version 4.3. The great minds behind what is lauded as the best, most accurate predictive text keyboard in the world, (even licensed by Samsung, BalckBerry and others for use in their own keyboards), think they may have completely changed the game for touch typing. And they may be right.
What makes 4.3 special is it's versatility. No longer are you bound to the constraints of the size, shape or orientation of your device. Previously, Tablet and Phablet (GIANT Smartphone) owners had real problems with typing quickly on their phones due to having to reach so far in screen to touch certain keys. SwifktKey knows our pain and aims to fix it. As Ben Medlock of SwiftKey puts it: "It’s a complete rethink on how you present your keyboard — allowing you to “undock” it from the base of the screen, resize it, and present it in a compact, split thumb-typing or regular way. We’ve dubbed this update ‘Layouts for Living’ because we think it’ll help you get more from your mobile devices, regardless of the context you’re typing in."
And speaking of "Regardless of the context you're typing in", SwiftKey has finally gone the "One Keyboard to Rule Them All" route this time. Previously, even the mighty SwiftKey app had separate Phone and Tablet keyboard apps. And buying one was not an all inclusive pass. You had to buy them separately, which always bothered me. Not this time. The very design philosophy itself with SwiftKey 4.3 eliminates that problem. With 4.3, you can position and configure your keyboard almost ANY way you want. It gives you instant access to a number of keyboard layouts, sizes and locations. With the new "Undock" feature, you can even drag SwiftKey around the screen wherever you want. ANYWHERE. It's definitely badass.
To Start, there are three keyboard modes that can be quickly accessed in the quick-settings panel where the size and undock buttons are:
- 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.
Having played around with it a great deal this morning, I can definitely say I love the changes. It is highly effective on Tablet too. much better than before. If you would like to try the Beta, grab it HERE.