Touch screen and smartphone technology brought much in terms of software flexibility and user interaction with the computer interface. They arguably pushed the IT industry forward by being the next important step in making computers less intrusive and more integrated into our everyday lives.
On the other hand, certain aspects of our interaction with suffered a step back in comfortability, most of all text input. There is a handful of applications on Android which try to deal with this problem by taking different approaches to the typing procedure, and here we will present the three we consider to be doing the best job.
SwiftKey, now in version 3, is one of the most popular Android apps out there, which confirms the aforementioned statement that text input on touchscreen phones is a major problem for an average user. Rather than just listening and reproducing users input on screen, this app tries to understand what the user is trying to say. This is important because touchscreen typing is usually full of mistakes caused by speed and small keys – SwiftKey corrects those as you type by guessing what you wanted to say. This guessing is getting increasingly better over time since the app learns from your habits and behaviour. SwiftKey supports more than 50 languages so the chances are it will work in yours, too.
One negative side of this app is that it is not free, although many people would say that it is worth the couple of bucks you will pay to get rid of the terrible stock keyboard. The other objections are directed mostly towards the lack of customizability (no way to change from the default clicking sound and poor choice in visual themes) and the ability to recognize certain words, especially those colloquial in nature.
TouchPal is another in the line of prediction based keyboard solutions, less popular than SwiftKey, but nevertheless rich in features and powerful. It boasts with the ability to understand the context behind the input and learn from your writing (even from your tweets and text messages!). It is highly themable, supports more than 30 languages (they promise to increase this number even more soon) and possesses a great dictionary which updates online. One of main advantages of TouchPal compared to SwiftKey is the price – TouchPal is completely free and has no ads.
TouchPal is not perfect, however. It lacks a cloud sync option which would enable users to bring their customizations and user dictionaries with them when they change phones. There were also reports of buggy updates which tend to frustrate users, as well as some really strange and counterintuitive predictions.
This app might not even need special introduction – it is often offered together with the stock Android keyboard on many devices. Swype takes a different approach to text input – instead of typing words by pressing virtual keys, you swipe across the keyboard in the direction of the letters you wish to type. Seems strange at first, but once you get used to it, â€œswypingâ€ﾝ will become your second nature. Aside from the original and handy input mode, Swype boasts with great accuracy and a lot of options which let you customize it the way you like it. In case you are having troubles with getting the hang of it, the creators prepared a useful set of tutorials to help you out.
There are two problems with Swype which are worth mentioning here. First, it is a bit more difficult to learn than its competitors (again, once you learn how to use it, the problem disappears). Second, the app is not available on Google Play so you will have to search for it somewhere else (we recommend the official website) – plus, the newest version which is available on the internet is beta, which means that it still might contain certain bugs. Have no fear, however, the app is fully functional and you should definitely give it a try.
In the end, choosing between these three apps is a matter of personal preference – they will all satisfy your needs with their quality. Still, we hope this article will help you figure out which one suits your typing style best.
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