This article compares three keyboards for smartphones: Swiftkey, Swype and Google Keyboard. My first choice would be Swype, but both keyboards are much better than almost all default Android keyboards, including the very disappointing default Samsung Galaxy S4 Keyboard, which is said to use Swiftkey algorithms. But let’s start with Swiftkey.
Swiftkey: weaker than expected
Drawback 1: spaces management. One of the advantages Swiftkey is also a weakness: the automatic adding of spaces (typography). If you auto-correct a word with a comma behind it, Swiftkey will add a space, which you’ll have to remove manually. In general, I had many spaces problems with Swiftkey. No show stoppers, but small annoyances if you care about typography.
Drawback 2: multi-language recognition. Another weakness of Swiftkey is advertised as one of its strength: “There is no need to switch between languages – you just start typing and SwiftKey figures out which language you are using!”. Well, in my case (typing mostly French, German, English, sometimes Spanish), the automatic language leads to misrecognition of words. Extending the dictionary to 2 or 3 languages forces you to be much more precise when swiping words, els you’ll get unwanted words in other languages as suggestions. I suppose it is not a problem if you use very basic language, but as soon as you try to use uncommon text language, Swiftkey may not recognize your words. Here is an example in French, trying to type “Deux pêches pourries”. Swype gets it better than Swiftkey:
Drawback 3: price. At 3,99 one would expect the perfect keyboard. Swiftkey is excellent, but still not perfect.
Advantage 1: text prediction. Swype offers next word prediction, which works much better than word prediction on Swype.
Swype: closer to perfection
Advantage 1: inserting punctuation. Swype gestures are the fastest way to insert punctuation. They also allow you to keep control about spaces. Inserting standard punctuation is loads faster with Swype than with Swiftkey. One exception: French punctuation is not well supported (in French “double punctuation signs” require a non-breaking space before).
Advantage 2: capitals. Swype capitalization Gesture is simply the best option for capitalization. It works especially well for German (all nouns are capitalized) and for formal second-person pronoun capitalization.
Drawback 1: next word prediction. As the Swype website says, “Swype automatically inserts a space between words when you Swype the next word in your sentence”. Unfortunately, this is incompatible with next word prediction. You’ll have to hit space after a word to see the next word suggestion – a huge loss of time and efficiency. Swiftkey’s prediction flow is much better.
Google Keyboard: free but still unavailable
Google Keyboard isn’t available to non-nexus devices for the moment. It could be a threat to both Swype and Swiftkey.