Swiftkey Flow Beta Rethinks Gesture Typing

Swiftkey Flow, the popular Android keyboard’s take on Swype, is launching today in beta. It seeks to combine gesture-based typing with the Swiftkey’s strong predictive text capabilities.

I have been using the beta myself for about a week and have been very impressed. As someone who prefers to thumb type on a mobile device, I found Swiftkey Flow’s predictive capabilities strong enough to make me use the swiping feature. The new version is available from the Swiftkey site for the company’s “VIP” beta testers. 

The beta launch includes what Swiftkey is calling “Flow Through Space,” whereby users can glide their finger across the keyboard amongst letters and the spacebar without needing to lift it for new words. A key component of this is Swiftkey’s predictive text technology, which attempts to learn what you are likely to write based on your past usage.

 

You can also give Swiftkey access to your Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, or SMS for greater insight about how you write. My favorite: Swiftkey will take in an RSS feed of your blog for further analysis.

While Swiftkey Flow is very convenient for lazy typing, I found it best for shorter phrases, such as what one would use with text messaging. The predictive text is still above the competition, but longer, more complex writing is still better accomplished through traditional typing. This is especially true of working with a Google Doc or other long form writing (that is if you are crazy enough to try this on a mobile device. Count me crazy).

Yet trying Flow reminded me of the first time I tried Swiftkey. Many times I was rather amazed at how well it was able to learn what I attempted to say. Also, its corrective capabilities made it a far more reliable way to type. Even with the recent improvements to the stock Android keyboard in Jelly Bean 4.2, Swiftkey remains far and above the king of keyboards on Android.

After sufficient beta testing, the app will then be available through Google Play.

“Our community is a vital part of this process,” community manager Evan Tapper said in a statement. “We rely on their feedback to ensure the product is in the best possible shape before it hits the market. But it’s about more than that – it’s about engaging with our users and building products that people really love to use.”

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