POPULAR ANDROID KEYBOARD ALTERNATIVE Swiftkey has offered an early Christmas present in a beta that adds two of the features most requested by user feedback.
An annoyance for many has been the lack of a separate row of numbers, which previously had been accessible through long presses. This new version sees that option arrive with a choice of a fourth row containing the number keys or a number pad off to the side. For those who prefer wide open spaces the option can be turned off altogether.
But perhaps the most exciting yet inconsequential feature is support for Emojis. The Unicode compliant emoticons are now supported by both Blackberry and the iPhone, with Android compatibility on an app by app basis.
By adding the cheeky critters to the keyboard, Swiftkey will allow Emoji support for a wide range of apps. 500 are available, which should be enough to sum up most emotions when words aren't enough.
There's a twist, however. Swiftkey is well known for its almost spooky predictive skills for identifying the word you'll want next, and now its predictive text is stretching to Emoji too.
As well as learning the particular Emojis you use in a given context, such as the phrase "I love you" and a heart, it will also suggest them as alternatives to words as you type, so typing p-i-z might offer you both the word "pizza" and a picture of pizza.
Swiftkey co-founder and CTO Ben Medlock said, "SwiftKey 4.5 beta introduces two of the features most requested by our users so we're really pleased to bring them into the product. Emoji make typing and messaging so much more fun and expressive.
"SwiftKey understands you so it will learn to suggest the emoji most relevant to you. Plus, the optional number row brings that extra level of customization for users. We hope everyone enjoys testing out our new beta - every bit of feedback helps us make SwiftKey better."
The new version is available now at beta.swiftkey.com. The beta version will be time limited and once beta testing is complete it will become the paid version at the Google Play Store. µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ