One day my grandchildren will accumulate around my dry collection of gadgets and glance with distraction during a tiny hardware keyboards found on a initial generations of smartphones. They’ll giggle and ask if a phones also had to be trustworthy to a windmill to work.
Looking longingly during a cosmetic keys that once felt ideal to me, I’ll remember that while a transition to typing on potion screens was a tough time in my life, we couldn’t suppose returning to a keyboard that wasn’t intelligent adequate to envision my difference and adjust to my needs.
Now that we can implement third-party keyboard apps on both Android and iOS, developers are aggressively (and creatively) operative to speed adult how we submit content while pardon us from typos or annoying autocorrect flubs.
They’re rethinking how we correlate with a keys—even a thought of keys altogether. You can still daub letters, nonetheless we can also appropriate your finger around a screen, chuck in chunks of pre-typed text, pull characters or even foreordain to your phone. Some are commencement to move desktop-like shortcuts and facilities to a palm of a hand.
Not all a options are combined equal. we looked during no fewer than 10 infrequently named apps—from Minuum to Fleksy—found in a
App Store and
Play store to find a handful to recommend. And given Google has accessible third-party keyboards for many longer than iOS, your options for Android phones are some-more advanced.
Swipe to Type
Pressing down on keys has done clarity for a century or two, nonetheless on a prosaic aspect where there’s room for dual fingers during most, another gesticulate can be better: a swipe.
Swiping to form means shifting your finger from notation to letter, while a intelligent keyboard tries to figure out a word you’re suggesting. Think of it as bond a dots for words. Swiping is a categorical text-entry process for apps such as Swype and SwiftKey (which also let we pat out letters), and it’s an choice on a local Android and Windows Phone keyboards, too.
Swype and SwiftKey keyboards—available on iOS and Android—can interpret a sloppiest squiggle lines for difficult difference such as “existentialism” or “unnecessary.”
I’ve found that swiping is many accessible when I’ve got usually one palm free, generally on incomparable shade phones. It helps when we don’t have to lift adult your finger. (Try reaching for that Q pivotal one-handed on an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.)
But we can form faster when we have dual thumbs available—especially on a roomier screens. Thanks to good pivotal spacing, SwiftKey is also easier to form on than many deputy keyboards we tested, including Swype. At 50 difference a notation with tiny or no typos, it beats Google’s Android keyboard for me, nonetheless we can form 55 WPM on my daily driver—Apple’s new iOS 8.
That’s partially given SwiftKey has nonetheless to move over some of a facilities from a four-year-old Android app to a new iPhone app, including a ability to change a distance and tone of a keys, and entrance a emoji keyboard. (Fleksy, another keyboard for iOS and Android, is another good choice if we wish that tradition pivotal size, a quick remove gesticulate and present emoji access.)
Many new iOS app keyboards can be glitchy, SwiftKey included. In iMessage, it frequently blocks partial of a messages on shade and intermittently it is delayed to cocktail up. The association says it is operative to repair those issues and to move underline relation to a iPhone app.
Still, SwiftKey stays my tip keyboard deputy because, like a desired one in a decades-long relationship, it’s good during finishing my sentences.
SwiftKey isn’t a usually app that suggests difference as we type. Both Google and Apple’s keyboards now do this. But in iOS 8’s initial month, SwiftKey is already smarter during presaging my difference than a rest. It suggests my often-used phrases (“done and done” and “k”), people (my boss’s name) and places (my favorite grill or my spin class).
To implement these keyboard apps, we download them and afterwards go into a phone’s keyboard settings menu, where we capacitate them. To get all a facilities in iOS, many need we to take a additional step of extenuation “full access.”
Apple warns that this gives a app builder a ability to “transmit anything we type.” SwiftKey says a usually delivery function for a customary word prophecy is from a keyboard to a phone’s SwiftKey app, where a estimate happens. Yet as an additional precaution, Apple’s possess keyboard automatically appears when we have to submit a password.
If we opt into SwiftKey’s Cloud feature, that scans your email and social-media accounts to offer improved word choices, a app encrypts and transmits your information to a company’s servers. But given a elementary app works so well, we motionless not to share some-more info.
But what unequivocally puts a receptionist like me in a quick line are apps that yield shortcuts for content we form often.
Both iOS and Android offer content expansion, that means we can insert a prolonged fibre of difference with a elementary shortcut: Type a letters “eml” and your email residence appears. But these options are buried low in a settings menus, and we have to remember all of a shortcuts we make up.
A new $1.99 iPhone app called KuaiBoard creates adding prolonged phrases or addresses passed simple. It isn’t meant to be your categorical keyboard—in fact, there are no letters. Instead we toggle to KuaiBoard when we need to insert large chunks of content by attack a Apple keyboard’s creation icon.
Tap a symbol compared with content you’ve added—for me, work address, cellphone number, dual email signatures and an email template we send frequently—and boom, it inserts it automatically.
KuaiBoard also requires full entrance in iOS, nonetheless a company’s owner
says a information saved to your house is stored usually on a device.
On Android, we became bending to AI.Type, that offers a identical functionality while bringing a full-size keyboard with lots of other tricks: swipe-to-type input, predictive text, a quarrel of copy, pulp and remove buttons and many more.
While it isn’t as good as SwiftKey during presaging my vocabulary, it is a many entirely featured mobile keyboard I’ve used. And it’s also entrance to a iPhone soon.
Draw Letters, Speak Words
The hardware keyboard might be dead, nonetheless a stylus isn’t. A flourishing series of apps modify your scratch to content with varying results.
MyScript Stack for a iPhone hasn’t been good about noticing my messy penmanship. Besides, a autocorrect suggestions are mostly impossibly wrong. MyScript Stylus Beta for Android is many improved in those areas. we don’t find possibly as useful as a keyboard apps, nonetheless they are value a try for those who write faster than they type.
Android’s keyboard options are still richer and some-more entirely featured than what is accessible for a iPhone, during slightest for now. When it comes to voice input, for instance, we have to use Apple’s possess keyboard in iOS, while in Android, third-party keyboards confederate with Google’s possess absolute debate recognition, or glorious alternatives such as Dragon Naturally Speaking.
Still, with heading options like SwiftKey and AI.Type accessible on both platforms and apps like KuaiBoard stuffing in a iOS gaps, it’s considerable how well—and how fast—we can now demonstrate ourselves on small, prosaic pieces of glass.
—Write to Joanna during email@example.com or follow her @JoannaStern.