If you've been using you're a heavy user of your Android smartphone you will probably be bored of your stock, fairly basic keyboard, in fact it's likely that you will have found an one of the many unique ideas such as Swype or Thumb Keyboard.
However what if you want a standard style QWERTY keyboard, you don't want to swipe your fingers across a keyboard like Swype and you want to use all your fingers, unlike thumb keyboard. Well that's where the new SwiftKey X has it's place.
SwiftKey X looks just like a regular keyboard, but it has takes benefit of 'the new version of TouchType's advanced Fluency language inference engine... the world's most accurate prediction and correction technology'. This means that SwiftKey X has incredible text prediction and intelligently learns form what you have typed both previously (from Gmail, SMS, Facebook and Twitter) and what you will type (anything you type while using the keyboard). In fact one of SwiftKey X's boasted features is that it becomes so intelligent that it can predict the next word you will want to type. In my tests it did fair far better than I expected and came up with a reasonable suggestion a lot of the time. The more I used it I could definitely see the keyboard learning new commonly used words and phrases that I personally use; a major benefit that saves a surprising amount of time. The suggested words appear in a convenient bar located just above the actual keyboard letters, similar to that of the stock Gingerbread keyboard.
SwiftKey says that its personalisation system is cloud based which doesn't seem to make much sense, bust presumably your own personal data file will be stored online for use with other phones.
Multi-linguists will have an easy time with this keyboard. A wide range of languages are available (mainly European languages) and up to 3 can be used simultaneously! The is particularly useful as you can enter text with multiple languages without having to change any settings. I tested this using English (UK) and French (Fr). The system works really well and it was easy to type in multiple languages, even your predicted words can be in multiple languages. Another use is that perhaps half of your contacts peak another language, now you needn't change any settings to message them.
Typing styles can be changed as well. Are you a messy typist that relies on predictive text or a typist that often has to input words carefully and add lots of new custom words. I find that both methods work well, I personally prefer the method which relies less on the predictive as I find that even without this style enabled the word suggestions are still very good but I don't use them a lot. Also to note, the auto correct for words is superb, you do not need to type particularly accurately for SwiftKey X to recognise your word.
Not only are your words remembered, but also your typing style. The keyboard will learn how you input certain letter and learn from it. Let's say you often miss the B key and press the C, the keyboard will learn from this based on what words you actually intended tp type and tailor the word predictions around this.
Since Android 2.2 Froyo most keyboard now include the option for voice input, providing you have the corresponding Google app installed. SwiftKey X is no exception. Simply tap the SwiftKey button at the bottom of the keyboard and you will be presented with a menu box. From here voice input can easily be selected. On this menu other options can be chosen such as share, support and settings.
Special characters and numbers are easy to input too. Set the option to long press keys for accented letters or use the symbol key located at the bottom of the keyboard. This key brings up the number pad and some commonly used punctuation while pressing the newly appeared key will feature emoticons, some other symbols and arrow keys.
The final main feature is gestures. Unfortunately there seems to only be two but they are certainly time saving. Swipe the keyboard down to hide it and swipe across the keyboard to delete a word.
SwiftKey X is very sleek. It has a pretty bog standard design with smooth edges and a clean font for the lettering.
The design for speech input and special characters is well fitting and the pop up boxes match the keyboards theme. 3 theme are available to choose from. The original 'Light': black lettering on white keys, the new 'Dark': white and green lettering on grey/black keys and the Honeycomb-esque 'Neon'.
Despite the complexities of this keyboard the settings are fairly simple and are easily understandable even for non 'techies'. The settings can be accessed either through the SwiftKey X button on the keyboard or via the app launcher.
Language profile: allows you to choose your languages, you will need to download at least one to begin with. Up to 3 can be equipped at a time but more can be downloaded. Also from here you can allow the keyboard to access your Facebook, Gmail, Twitter and SMS to give the keyboard a head start with its predictions even before you start using it.
Theme and Layout: this is where you change your keyboard's aesthetics. As well as themes and options such as arrow keys and foreign accented characters you can also change the layout. The default layout is QWERTY but other options such as AZERTY, QWERTZ and Russian are available. Most keyboards do not have such an option.
Stats: Tracks your usage statistics; Efficiency and Keystrokes. It's not clear what efficiency is but I believe it's how accurate the keyboard predictions are. Keystrokes shows your total characters entered and the 'keystrokes saved'.
Advanced: Change settings such as 'typing style', how the spacebar functions, sounds and haptics and even the sensitivity of gestures.
SwiftKey X is by far the best Android keyboard I have used. It's both fast and responsive. The built in support features make it accessible to all users and the settings are easy to change. The unique AI engine which learns how you type is incredible and I expect we'll see competitors soon. I particularly like the multilingual features (even though I don't use them that much) and the word selection bar. The themes are clean and have polish. It is clear that SwiftKey has had a lot of resources and man hours spent perfecting it, hence the excellent repertoire of reviews and comments coming from big names such as Forbes, Techradar and Androidcentral (a full list is viewable on the SwifKey website). I suggest you check out SwiftKey X, unfortunately there is no free version and for tablets there is an alternative, more expensive app.
Click to view SwiftKey X on the Android market
Visit SwiftKey X's website where a host of excellent videos are available as well as much more information about the app.