TouchType Rolls Out New Android Keyboards

Newsfactor.com

Not satisfied with the keyboard that comes with your Android device? Now, you have yet another option in what is becoming a crowded market: the SwiftKey X.

TouchType on Thursday rolled out two new Android keyboard apps: SwiftKey X for smartphones and SwiftKey Tablet X. The two virtual keyboards are TouchType's second market offering. The company launched an Android keyboard app last year that has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times.

"The keyboard app market is definitely a growing space. I don't know how much room there is for everyone, and overall it remains to be seen whether it's better to allow innovation around the keyboard or just provide a really good one to start with," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis. "Even Apple is providing a split keyboard option for the iPad with the next iOS."

SwiftKey's Latest Bells

TouchType's latest apps offer an upgrade over the original, including what the firm calls a Fluency 2.0 language inference engine, which marks the latest evolution in artificial intelligence-driven text entry. Fluency 2.0 uses machine learning to predict and correct by observing how a user composes text and then predicts what they will likely type next.

TouchType also taps a cloud-based personalization service that learns from a user's message history to predict and correct words. Then there's Touch Interaction Modeling, a technology that conducts real-time analysis of the user's touchscreen typing precision to improve word accuracy and predictions.

Like the upcoming iOS, SwiftKey Tablet X offers a split-key layout for thumb typing on the larger touchscreen tablet form factor. Other new features include keyboard themes and customizations, support for more than 20 languages, and the ability to type in up to three languages at once with language-aware auto-correction.

Competing Innovations

There are other options, or, as Greengart said, consumers can depend on hardware makers to innovate. For example, Greengart said virtual keyboard app competitor Swype has the widest distribution. Swype allows users to move their finger from letter to letter to form words rather than press the virtual button.

"Many vendors have included Swype pre-loaded on some of their phones. With tablets there is even more real estate there to differentiate your keyboard," Greengart said. "Google encourages developers to plug in different keyboards and other elements into the Android OS."

Beyond Apple's upcoming innovations, Greengart also pointed to HP's work on the TouchPad keyboard, which has a numbers row.

"It's a trade-off as to how much of the rest of the screen you want to give up to have larger keys. Everyone's preferences may be slightly different," Greengart said. "HP gives you the option to change that around. Certainly the ability to have number keys available without having to go to a separate layout is convenient."

SwiftKey X supports all Android 2.X smartphones and retails at $3.99. SwiftKey Tablet X supports all Android 2.X and 3.X tablets and retails at $4.99.

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