If like me you grew up typing on proper keyboards, you may have gotten rather fast at it. Writing things down with pen and ink can seem unimaginably slow. But newer technologies can also seem to require a real slowing down — such as trying to type on a smartphone.
Even on the largest screens, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note series — phones that are so large and so like tablet computers that they’re called “phablets” — even on those phones, the on-screen keyboard is tiny.
It’s not just that writing a book on such a device is near-impossible, even composing short text messages can be painfully slow.
Enter predictive text. You’re probably already familiar with this — you start sending a message to a friend to say you’ll be late to the meeting, and you get suggested words as soon as you begin typing a letter.
SwiftKey, which is currently available only for Android phones and will not work on Apple’s devices, is predictive text on speed.
It uses not only dictionaries to guess your next word, but uses everything you’ve ever typed, or anyone has ever typed, to guess the next word.
The result is along the lines of this — you want to tell someone you’ll be late for a meeting, and SwiftKey can practically write the whole sentence for you, guessing the next word without you even typing in a single letter.
Because it knows you, it guesses (often quite surprisingly) who you are writing to and fills in the correct proper names of people and organizations and places.
I now compose text messages and emails on my smartphone at a fraction of the time it used to take — indeed, I probably compose things faster on SwiftKey than I do on a proper keyboard at my desk.
If you’ve got an Android phone I strongly urge you to download SwiftKey from Google Play and try it out.