SwiftKey, the popular keyboard app for Android devices, launched a new version overnight that incorporates a feature called SwiftKey Flow, letting users type by gliding a finger across the keyboard to connect letters, maintaining contact with the screen.
Sound familiar? Yes, it is very similar to the core functionality of Swype, made by a Seattle-area startup that was acquired by Nuance Communications in 2011. The SwiftKey Flow feature had previously been available as a standalone preview, but the release of SwiftKey 4 makes it a part of the London-based company’s primary app.
So what about those similarities to Swype? Via email, SwiftKey chief marketing officer Joe Braidwood declined to say whether the company has been contacted by Nuance about the feature or any of Swype’s patents. However, he made it clear that SwiftKey believes it has come up with a better experience, based in part on its predictive technology. He writes …
What we can say is that we’ve been working on SwiftKey Flow for about a year. When we started, we realized we could take a fresh approach to gesture typing by more thoroughly harnessing the power of natural language processing and machine learning. This is the approach we took when building the more advanced language prediction engine that SwiftKey is famous for, and we applied our learning when considering how gesture typing could be improved. As such, SwiftKey Flow offers a much more accurate typing experience than any other continuous input method, and because of this it not only inputs the word you want, but instantly predicts the word that’s most likely to come next as well. It also lets you enter entire phrases without lifting your finger off the screen thanks to its powerful engine. No other gesture typing keyboard lets you do either of these things.
Features include “Flow Through Space,” which lets users enter multiple words at a time by gliding to the space bar in between.
We’ve contacted Nuance to see if the company has anything to say.
SwiftKey 4 still allows for tap typing, and adjusts to the user’s typing style over time with its personalized autocorrect and prediction technology. Users can improve the personalized predictions by granting access to their email or social media accounts.
SwiftKey 4, normally $3.99, is available now at a promotional price of $1.99 or as a free upgrade for existing SwiftKey users.