I have been testing out the latest version of SwiftKey and Swype since some time now, trying to find out which of them I wanted to use full-time. But it was a rather hard decision, because both have their pros and cons.
SwiftKey Flow Beta
I started testing the latest version of SwiftKey in the beginning of February 2013 SwiftKey Flow Beta 4. Which is the version that is now renamed to SwiftKey Flow 4. This was the first version of SwiftKey that had the swiping feature to type, this means that you don’t have to lift your finger while typing. Me as a big fan of swiping, didn’t bother testing previous versions of SwiftKey because they didn’t have this feature.
SwiftKey can be downloaded here for €3.99 at the time of this writing. There is also a free version, but this is limited to one month, and it is not the latest version of SwiftKey, which doesn’t support swiping yet.
After SwiftKey, I started using Swype Beta for a couple of weeks. Swype can be downloaded for free here. This is still the beta version, but even for a beta version, it has some major features that are very useful.
Preparation of the review
Both keyboards have the functionality to connect to some social networks, gmail, and your smses to learn how you type. I connected all possible ways to the keyboards, so they were optimized as much as possible to the way I type. I am an non-English speaker at home, so in those there are certainly some non-English words which could have been confusing.
The typing experience
To start of this app review, the typing experience is compared. In ‘typing experience’, no swiping is used, just the typing of one key after another.
Both keyboards say that they have the best typing experience. When you start with SwiftKey, you see that it has a very powerful prediction tool. After some time you really see which words you say a lot, or which sentences you use a lot. After some more time, you don’t even have to type a lot anymore, because the prediction tool is that good. I had the same experience with Swype, but it takes longer to learn your words and sentences you use a lot in combination with each other. I also had the feeling that SwiftKey did a better job at predicting my text.
Now comes the part of the keyboard I use the most of all. In SwiftKey the swiping is very good, because you don’t have to lift your finger to press on spaces. If you look at Swipe, you have to keep lifting your finger after every word. Though, Swype will also tell you when words should probably be split if you swipe to words after each other which shouldn’t be connected. But as far as I know this is limited to only two words, and even then some words are not recognize to be split.
When you swipe a word in SwiftKey, after each word SwiftKey will introduce a space. This seems like a good point, but I kindly find it frustrating if the word you swiped was not the word you wanted. You should know that you can only change that word when you are at the end of that word. So what you have to do then is to remove that space (or use your finger to put your cursor behind the word) so you can change the word. If you swiped a word in Swype, no space is introduced. This means that you can immediately change the word you have just swiped to another similar word that you could have meant.
Another thing I don’t always like is the feature that SwitfKey puts your cursor at the end of that word if you tap on the word with your finger. The reason behind this is that you can then easily change the word to a similar word. But sometimes I just want to change one small letter in the word, so that means that I have to tap twice on that location. I sometimes forget this, ending up in trying to aim my cursor on the right place twice.
In SwiftKey you can select up to three languages at the same time, so you don’t have to switch between the languages you use often. As already told, I am a non-English speaker, but I write a lot of text in English, so this means I have to switch between languages often. This problem is solved by SwiftKey, because SwiftKey will better predict in which language you are typing. In Swype you can select favorite languages, which you can switch between in only two taps. But even those two taps are a lot compared to no taps at all. This is a feature missing in Swype.
I ended up staying with Swype as my major keyboard on my phone. The main reason for me is that the price is still too high for the features it is missing. Compared to Swype, which is currently still free. But if Swype would change from a free keyboard to a paid keyboard, I would probably choose for SwiftKey. The SwiftKey keyboard has a better way in predicting what you are going to type. Although SwiftKey also has some things I don’t like at all (spaces at the end of each word).
Version: SwiftKey Flow Beta 18.104.22.168 and Swype Beta 1.4.5
Test device: HTC One X (stock Andoid 4.1.1, HTC Sense 4+)
Time testing app: 2+ weeks