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The best Android keyboard for super fast text entry

technologyEdward Kiledjian1 Comment

As I started exploring Android for the first time (switching from IOS), I wanted to find a fast way to enter text. The IOS method of a screen based keyboard is ok but very slow (and therefore not efficient). I realized that there are dozens of great Android keyboard alternatives.

Some of these keyboards are weird and won't actually improve your text entry speed (Slice is a great example of this).

Slice for Android

If anything, Slice for Android may actually slow you down ;-)

Having played with half a dozen alternatives, my main daily use keyboard is SwiftKey flow (beta) 

SwiftKey Flow Beta

What is Swiftkey Flow?

It is a gesture based keyboard which combines swipe to type functionality with Swiftkey's extremely powerful prediction engine. 

Swipe to type means you simply move your finger from letter to letter without actually lifting your finger. You can even insert a space by passing over the space key. What truly amazed and surprised me was how well it was able to decipher my (purposely) bad swiping. As long as I swiped close to my intended letters, the prediction engine was able to properly convert it.

The continuous text entry method (where you swipe over the space key instead of lifting your finger from the screen to mark the end of a word) requires some practice but really differentiates Swifkey Flow from the other competitors.

The prediction engine is so good, it will often guess (correctly) the intended word before you even finish writing it. In this case, you simply stop writing and it will autocomplete. For each word, it provides 3 guesses (the most likely one being in the middle and is used for autocompletion).

Improving the prediction

If you'll allow it, the program can log into your Facebook account, Twitter account and blog (via RSS) to learn how you typically write. You can perform this tune-up periodically to improve the prediction.

Some issues and the update 

It is important to remember that SwiftKey Flow is still in beta and the team is hard at work releasing bug fixing updates. They released such an update this week which fixed a boatload of issues here and there. 

One of the major fixes is related to the continuous text entry. With past versions, if it detected a bunch of the words then couldn't figure out the last one you are entering (in continuous entry mode only), it deleted the entire strong. With this version, it now saves everything it understood and only omits the last unknown word. They have also reduced the memory footprint however this is one area the development team has said it will continue working on.

It's important

As a content consumption device, you really don't care about efficiency on a tablet. The minute the tablet becomes a productivity device, then efficiency becomes critical. you spend a lot of your time entering text and this one tip can make you up to 20% more efficient. It's worth a try.