Feeds

SwiftKey offers alternative for Android typists

But Swype remains an OEM-only option

The essential guide to IT transformation

Android users searching for a better keyboard can now buy SwiftKey, a word-prediction technology. This is good, because Swype will never be available that way.

SwiftKey works by trying to guess what word the user is going to type next, a bit like Google Scribe, only useful. SwiftKey allows faster text entry for those who can select their next word rather than trying to type it. Android users have a handful of keyboard options, though the most popular - Swype - reckons selling to users is a mug's game.

Trying to squeeze a QWERTY keyboard onto a phone's screen is always going to be a compromise, to say the least. These days even iPhone users can connect a Bluetooth keyboard, but those using Android are stuck with what can be squeezed onto the screen and what software can be used to ease that compression.

Swype is a marvellous thing - the user traces paths between letters making up a word - but Swype is betting its future on selling to manufacturers rather than users. The company reckons that trying to support the plethora of Android or Symbian hardware and applications is more effort than it's worth - manufacturers can integrate support for Swype at a low level, ensuring greater compatibility.

Having recently tried a Freedom Pro Keyboard on Android, we can attest to the integration problems. Freedom Pro bodges a Bluetooth connection with drivers still in beta, and while it works most of the time it also suffers from obscure compatibility issues, such as only working in landscape mode in certain applications.

Those problems should disappear, but they are indicative of the difficultly of replacing the input mechanism on a platform that wasn't designed with that in mind. Windows Mobile, for all its faults (and it had many) provided an interface specifically for developers wanting to replace the keyboard. Windows Phone 7 will apparently offer the same thing, assuming anyone is interested.

We've only had the quickest look at SwiftKey, which is being launched with a three-day discount price of 69 pence. But if you're not blessed with a handset supporting Swype, and can't wait for proper Bluetooth support, then it's probably worth taking advantage of the Android Marketplace's 24-hour money-back deal to take a look. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
EE plonks 4G in UK Prime Minister's backyard
OK, his constituency. Brace yourself for EXTRA #selfies
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.