Monday, 9 December 2013

Quick App Comparison: Swiftkey Pro vs Google Keyboard

One of the biggest things people do on their phones is to text, be it with SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, or whatever. As with everything, it's worth getting a good keyboard for the job. I mostly use either Swiftkey or Google Keyboard. Both of these are available for Android. IOS, due to its highly restricted nature, only has the stock keyboard, although you can do your typing in apps like Fleksy, and paste your stuff where you want it.

Please bear in mind that these are just my personal thoughts, feel free to comment if you disagree.

Google Keyboard is a pretty straightforward keyboard, with no real bells or whistles, aside from its swipe gestures, which now include being able to swipe to the spacebar to insert a space without taking your finger off the screen. As such, it has little to no customisability. Instead it offers simple stability which you can count on all the time. Oh, and you can download it free of charge, providing your phone is running Android 4.0 or higher.

Swiftkey offers you any amount of customisation. It includes 13 themes, and an extensive range of language packs, including Irish! Swiftkey also offers Cloud Sync, meaning that you can add words to your dictionary on one device, and have that word in the dictionary across all devices. In my experience, however, Swiftkey isn't quite as snappy in opening, closing, and general typing, as Google's offering. Swiftkey isn't free however. You can download a free trial for a month, but then you have to buy the full app for €3.99.

For phones, my keyboard of choice is most definitely Google Keyboard.

But, what about tablets? Here is where Swiftkey comes into its own. Google Keyboard takes up about half the screen real estate in landscape, and probably about a third in landscape. It still types perfectly well, but it's always seemed to me to be a terrible waste of screen. Obviously, the devs over at Swiftkey had the same thought. Layouts for Living allows you to change the keyboard to a two-handed split layout, or shift all the keys to the left or right. My personal favourite is the ability to completely undock the keyboard from the bottom of the screen, and move the keyboard around the screen to where you want it. While this does mean that text boxes don't move up to be above the keyboard, it also means that the keyboard only takes up a fraction of the space on-screen, allowing you to see much more of the app or webpage you're in.

Thanks to Layouts for Living, Swiftkey is much better than Google Keyboard for tablets, especially in landscape. It may be a bit steep, but if you type a lot on your tablet, it's well worth it.

Google Keyboard: Recommended for phones and smaller tablets
Pros:
  • Free
  • Stable
  • Smooth
  • Gesture typing
Cons:
  • Not so much customisability
Swiftkey Pro: Recommended for larger tablets (i.e. 10" tablets)
Pros:
  • Loads of customisability
  • Layouts for Living
  • Innovative developers
  • Cloud sync
  • Lots of languages
Cons:
  • Not free
  • Some small performance issues

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