This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication - Western Union memo, 1876
THE LITTLE Android keyboard app that could, called Swiftkey, has announced its latest beta version entitled "Layouts for Living".
Following on from its recent innovations including swipe gestures allowing users to type without their fingers ever leaving the touchscreen, and cloud syncing of user dictionaries across devices, for Swiftkey version 4.3 the predictive text powerhouse has turned its attention to the layout of the keyboard.
The main reason for doing this appears to be merging the tablet and phone apps. These have been separate entities up to now, with the former offering a split keyboard to allow two finger texting for the stubbiest of thumbs. From now on there will be only one app, with more tailoring options.
However, this new version goes further still by offering users the chance to change their keyboard layout and functionality according to the situation, along with the biggest innovation of all, the ability to "undock" the keyboard from its usual position at the foot of the page.
There have been a few attempts at "floating" apps for Android, with varying degrees of success, but Swiftkey seems keen to take it to the next level. We can see this being particularly handy on large tablets and for gaming, but on the whole it's a "nice to have", as opposed to some of the other innovations that have been the backbones of previous versions.
We've had a quick hands-on this afternoon and we're impressed, up to a point. It feels very smooth, works very intuitively, and generally behaves as Swiftkey users have come to expect.
But there are still, for our money, two glaring omissions. There's still no option to have a separate number row, and there's still no support for Emojis, and those were at the top of our wishlist. Maybe in Swiftkey 4.4. µ
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