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What is Swiftkey?
Swiftkey is a replacement keyboard, getting you much more customisation and — potentially — faster typing than the standard iOS keyboard. It’s free to download and use, with the only real cost being the non-standard custom themes, which cost 79p each.
You might not like it if you’re worried about data privacy, though, as it doesn’t half ask for a lot of permissions.
The reasons why we like custom iOS keyboards are all about the simple stuff. We like being able to type with a gesture rather than dozens and dozens of taps, and being able to customise how the keyboard looks and feels is pretty handy.
Without paying a penny you get three themes: black, white and a slightly naff Christmassy one. Unless you want something fancy, that’ll do.
One of the main draws of Swiftly is that it can learn your typing habits by hooking into your Facebook, your Gmail, Twitter, Evernote and your contacts. What this does is to inform the dictionary based on what you write about, who you know and so on. That’s pretty smart. This can be shared across devices too if, say, you use another Android phone or a tablet as well as an iPhone.
Don’t want all the fluff? There’s a good chance you’ll find Swiftkey faster and more accurate than the default iOS keyboard. That’s kinda the idea.
If you’re worried about people getting hold of your data, you may want to stay away from Swiftkey. It demands an awful lot of access to your phone and anything you sync the app up to (such as your Gmail account) because it uses a cloud-stored learning dictionary rather than one kept locally on the device.
Swiftkey assures us it’s not doing anything dodgy with our data, but if you’re at all worried you might want to try Swype instead. It’s just about as good as Swiftkey, but uses a totally local dictionary so doesn’t demand as many permissions. It’s not free like Swiftkey, though.
You need to give Swiftkey a while to get up to speed if you don’t want it to hook into your social networks and email, as its default dictionary doesn’t seem to be all that huge.
While Swiftkey is fairly polished at this point, it’s not totally bug-free. Very occasionally we find the keyboard fails to pop up. But it doesn’t happen too often.